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Unearthed Jack-o’-Lanterns

Embrace the quirks of nature for this project, inspired by plant roots and leaves. Pass over perfect-looking pumpkins and opt instead for those with cracks and unusual shading. 

Photography: NGOC MINH NGO

Source: Martha Stewart Living, October 2015


  • Felt roof-deck protection (tar paper), #15, by Warrior Roofing, $20 a roll,

  • White pencil or china marker

  • Heavy-duty scissors

  • Hot-glue gun


  1. Print leaf templates and tile as needed. Trace templates onto tar paper with pencil or china marker; cut out with heavy-duty scissors. Score and fold leaves as indicated on templates to create look of veins. Cut a 12-inch piece of wire, bend one end into a small loop, and hot-glue to back of leaf. Repeat to make desired number of leaves. To make tendrils, wrap 18-inch-long pieces of wire around a pencil (as shown).

  2. To assemble vine: Cut 2 pieces of wire to desired vine length; twist together to create main vine. Add leaves and tendrils by twisting wire attached to each around main vine several times. 

  3. For the carved pumpkins pictured above, download our root-design templates. Scale them to fit the size you need, and print. Then etch the designs on the pumpkins, following these basic instructions.

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