Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Geeky Pumpkin Carving Patterns

by Sara N.

It's one week until Halloween. Do you have a pumpkin pattern yet?

Vintage Halloween art from squidoo
If not, don't worry. The Internet has you covered. There are patterns out there for just about any geeky fandom if you look hard enough. And to make your life even easier, I've compiled some of the best ones for you.

You can create gorgeous, topical, geeky pumpkins using patterns or templates. Simply tape the pattern to your hollowed-out pumpkin, poke holes along the line of your pattern, then cut out the holes. Insert the candle, and magic will happen.

Pattern links:

First, some self-promotion: Click here for S4's exclusive (and frighteningly adorable!) carving pattern of the bear cub triplets from Pixar's summer hit Brave.  

If you want something more terrifying, you can always count on Pink Raygun to have nerd-friendly pumpkin patterns, including The Walking Dead, True Blood, Watchmen, Harry Potter, Supernatural (Yes! Finally! My own Dean Winchester!) and many more. (Psst, Laurie: They have Hawkeye!)

Examples from the Zombie Pumpkins website.
Zombie Pumpkins always has a good selection of templates you can download. They've got classic movie monsters (Freddy Krueger, Chuckie, The Joker, Jason Vorhees, etc.), popular film heroes (The Avengers, Captian Jack Sparrow, Bella Swan — if nothing else, you can make and smash her — Chewbacca, etc.), television terrors (Dracula Mr. Burns!) and video game figures, plus a whole section of Tim Burton characters (I'd go with Beetlejuice, but you've got tons of other options, too). Also, Cthulu. This website does charge for its downloads, but it's fairly cheap, particularly if you go in with a few other people and download several patterns for you all to use.

Ultimate Pumpkin Stencils has a set of Game of Thrones house sigils. Imagine the Stark direwolf and the Lannister lion battling it out on your front porch! They've also got a collection of Disney and Muppet stencils (naturally, I'm pining for Miss Piggy), and the best Bane stencil I've seen this year. These are a little pricier, but they'd all look great aglow on Halloween night.

Examples from Ultimate Pumpkin Stencils

If you're in a Doctor Who mood, arteclair on deviantART has a fantastic pair of Weeping Angels that would look great flanking your doorway.

Here's a different kind of geeky: Get your political nerdiness on with these patterns from the Pumpkin Lady, featuring George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, the Liberty Bell and more. There's a charge for these patterns.

Examples from Pumpkin Jack Carving.
Pumpkin Jack Carving has amazing patterns for advanced carvers interested in trying out shading techniques. Here you'll find patterns for characters from Doctor Who, Buffy, and the Avengers, plus tons of classic villains (Darth Vadar! Pennywise the clown! Sigmund Freud!) and, weirdly, iCarly, plus many more.

This website is probably also the only place you'll find a pattern for Isaac Asimov's face. Be warned that these will take time and patience to execute.

Another challenging group of patterns is available at Fantasy Pumpkins. The dragons are gorgeous, but I have so far not worked up the courage to attempt them. Star Trek fans: There's also a pattern for the Enterprise.

Haven't found anything you like?

Make your own! Here are a few suggestions on finding a picture you like and making your own using a variety of software, from MS Paint to PhotoShop. You can also do it by hand by tracing an image or drawing it freehand. (This is how I created the carvable Brave Bears.)

Learning how to carve with a template:

If you haven't tackled this type of project before, here's an online guide for carving a pumpkin using a template; visual learners can watch this YouTube demonstration. Those who want to try the more advanced designs that require shading can watch this video tutorial. Once you've carved your pumpkin, you'll want to keep it fresh until Oct. 31. This site has some suggestions for keeping your design from shrinking. (Think Vaseline and plastic wrap.)

My suggestions for pumpkin success: 
  • Buy tools. The cheap orange plastic tools they sell at your local megamart will be fine for your precision cuts. If you get serious about carving, invest in a nice wood and metal set. 
  • Use big metal serving spoons to scoop out the pumpkin guts. Glop them onto a layer of old newspapers. (Remember those? Who's useful now, Internet news sites?)
  • When you transfer the pattern onto your pumpkin by poking holes through it, smear a thin layer of baking flour across the pumpkin surface to help you see all of the tiny dots. It'll wash right off when you're done.
  • If you decide you want to season and bake the seeds that you remove from your pumpkin and you leave them out overnight to dry, make sure you don't also have cats, or you might wake up to find this: 


If you carve an amazing pumpkin this year, please share it with us on our Facebook page, or tweet us a pic. We want to see how you celebrate Halloween!

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