My Halloween Pumpkins Pt. I

I started carving our family pumpkins when I was in grade 7.

At the time there weren’t any of those namby pamby pumpkin carving kits you see the kids using today.  Nope.  I had my dad’s Buck Knife, a soup spoon and a box of bandaids.

These are the actual pumpkins.






I have that buck knife around here somewhere.

Yup.  A gift from dear old dad.  As the years went by and my pumpkin carving become more elaborate I had my father (who was a machinist) make me a set of pumpkin carving tools that I still use to this day.

My dad also supplied me with my first reciprocating saw, bequeathed me all of his fishing tackle and taught me how to chop wood.    I was the last of 3 girls so I was his final chance at having a son.  Apparently when he didn’t get one , he decided to just pretend he did.

So in honour of my dad and his influence on me and my pumpkin carving, this week I have for you a selection of the pumpkins I’ve carved throughout the years.

Before you get too excited, I am a good pumpkin carver, but not a GREAT pumpkin carver.  Use them as inspiration for your own pumpkins this year.

Trust me … I used Internet inspiration for some of my own.

Up first … the Man in the Moon.  Circa 2005.

I took me a while to decide to post these pictures.  The reason I didn’t want to is because I can’t really tell you  how to  carve a pumpkin like this.  It’d be like trying to teach your mother to use a computer over the telephone after she’s dipped into the homemade wine the neighbours brought over recently. And by recently I mean 17 Christmases ago.    Almost impossible and infuriating for all involved.

I can tell you, to do the a sculptural pumpkin you need to first remove all the rind from the pumpkin.  I use a potato peeler and a really sharp knife.  Then I just start carving away with a soup spoon, a teaspoon and a knife.  I also use the pumpkin carving tools my father made me.

I usually let the pumpkin dictate how the face is going to look ’cause it’s way to difficult to argue with a vegetable.  (or fruit depending on how picky you are)

Check back tomorrow for “Chomper”, an easier version of the sculptural pumpkin.
Also see Pumpkins III and Pumpkins IV if you like.

→Follow me on Instagram where I often make a fool of myself←


  1. Vikki says:

    I read recently that, in the “olden days”, the Irish used to carve potatoes instead of pumpkins. I want to see a potato you’ve carved……a whole family of little potato heads. (You are an excellent pumpkin carver though!!)

  2. Mary E Thomas says:

    Ahhhh….for the love of a father! How blessed and talented you are..I am sure the two can not be ‘un-entwined’.
    You speak of your father in such a casual, easy way and of his having taught you so much…it warms my heart.
    Thank you for sharing not only your talents and knowledge, but, also, your heart! You do enrich the world.
    And, to think, this brought on by the mention of the pumpkin carving tools he made for you!

  3. Alexandra Dare says:

    Wow, Karen. That man in the moon pumpkin is a work of art! I love that subtle glow you get with that particular carving when you put the candle inside and turn off the lights… Ahhhh, teach me your ways…

  4. karen n says:

    Karen! those pumpkins are amazing! and namby pamby is now my favorite word (words)I would have to wear chain mail gloves up to my elbows to attempt this

    • Karen says:

      Karen! It’s Karen! I get really embarrassed with everyone saying “those pumpkins” are great. I’ll admit the “Man in the Moon” pumpkin is pretty good, LOL, but the Native Indian ones I did in grade 7 aren’t exactly praise worthy! I feel like a goon. ~ karen!

  5. Anemone says:

    Yeaa right i cud attempt something like that!!! It might end up a big giant hole in the pumkin or maybe Jason or Freddy’s face. Its brilliant but that kinda of 3-d kinda carving…no can do. i am not that skillful

  6. Judith says:

    I really am impressed.I didn’t grow any this year – now I’m really sorry.

  7. Jen A says:

    “’cause it’s way to difficult too argue with a vegetable” LOL Ha ha!

    Great pumpkins.


  8. Natalie says:

    Very nice!

  9. Looking forward to seeing more of your pumpkins. Despite my best efforts mine always end up with the classic triangle shaped face features.

  10. Lesley H says:

    You had me at ‘machinist’. My big brother is one of those and don’t they make the best tools EVER?! I’d love to hear more about your tools!

    And also, you’re a big fat liar! Not a great pumpkin carver? Come on now!

  11. deborahinPS says:

    Oh my! Your carved pumpkins are pure gorgeous Karen. I’d dub you the Pumpkin Goddess if I were boss :)
    A three year old would have better skills than I possess, a knife wouldn’t be anywhere near the gourds here.
    I admire your skills and look forward to viewing your pumpkin artwork :)

  12. Connor says:

    Gorgeous! I now feel entirely inferior again. This was my first year not just cutting out a face, I scraped in a translucent hanging bat, instead. I had felt rather accomplished about it until this! Hadn’t even thought of going 3D! :)

  13. Wendi says:

    My favorite pumpkin carving tools are actually made for clay. I bought a full set of clay carving/molding tools (to actually carve apples…don’t ask) and realized they were perfect for small details on pumpkins.
    Lookin’ good Karen!

  14. ModFruGal says:

    Will we get to see the custom tools?

  15. maggie says:

    Wow Amazing!!!!! Not much for Halloween or pumpkin carving but these are terrific. I am, though a “reel” good fisherman or woman or fishing person whatever! Your Dad would be proud of me.

  16. Cheryl says:

    Speaking of wine….how does 17 year old wine taste? I found several bottles in my basement that are close to that. Do you think it’d be worth opening them, maybe saving them for the cooking pot, or just chucking them?

  17. Not great? Oh I beg to differ. You are gobsmackingly brilliant!!!

  18. Shannon says:

    Out of curiosity how much do you usually spend on a pumpkin for carving?

    It’s not something many aussies do & I saw a display of “carving pumpkins” in my local grocery store last week for $20 each!!

    That isn’t normal is it?

    • Karen says:

      Mmm … no $20 seems a bit excessive! Pumpkins must *really* be rare in Australia. Here they run around $5-10 depending on the size. Even cheaper if you go straight to a pumpkin patch to buy them.

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