A trip to the pumpkin patch has become an annual event, being scribbled onto the calendar alongside the December Christmas Tree hunt, and June strawberry picking trip! But once you’ve got your pumpkin, what will you carve? Why not try something a little more ambitious this year?

Expert 3D pumpkin carver, Simon McMinnis, has put together some tips for the Mr Plant Geek website:

“I pretty much started out like everyone else when it comes to pumpkin carving. Triangle eyes, basic jagged mouth and finished off with a tea light inside that would fill the room with a traditional burnt pumpkin smell as the candle singed the pumpkin lid. This satisfied my early years until I started growing giant pumpkins!

My heaviest home grown Atlantic giant pumpkin was 765lbs (56 Stone) and 4.5ft wide. Too wide to fit through the side gate! Although, my PB for a giant pumpkin still is nowhere near the world record of 2624.6lb!

Effectively, I had grown my own canvas which opened my eyes to the whole new world of 3D pumpkin carving.

So, over the past 8 years, I have been offering 3D pumpkin carving displays at various events around the country and the style is also becoming more and more popular worldwide. To carve a pumpkin in a 3D style, you treat the pumpkin as you would carve a piece of wood, but using very different tools. Basically, you are removing the skin and carving into the flesh of the pumpkin to the desired depths whilst at the same time not trying to break through into the cavity. You are creating a sculpture rather than a stencil if you will. These carvings don’t require a light inside and are best displayed underneath a light to bring out the shadows.

Here are my 5 tips for successful 3D carving:

  1. Choosing the perfect pumpkin – Typically, ugly pumpkins are great for carving. Your stereotypical round Cinderella pumpkin is not much use for carving faces, etc. You are looking for a pumpkin that is going to be suitable for your design. So, a face would require a tall and narrow pumpkin so you can use the pumpkins shape to your advantage to get the contours of the face in.
  2. Clean the pumpkin- Remove soil etc. Soil will only speed up the decay and not to mention spoil the look of your carve.
  3. Plan – Before you commit to hacking away at the pumpkin, you need a plan! Maybe draw out what you are thinking and try to get the proportions in place. You don’t want to be getting carried away removing pumpkin pieces only to find that was where an ear was going to be.
  4. Carving – To carve in 3D, we use clay-carving loop tools which are pretty safe to use. Large loops for removing the rind and bulk flesh then gradually work down the sizes towards detail. The final process uses fruit carving knives for the finished touch. Don’t just grab the nearest kitchen knife for this job! It will only end in tears, for you or the pumpkin!
  5. Making it last – if you want to keep your carving looking as fresh as possible then when it is not displayed you can wrap it in cling film and keep cool, but not frozen!!! The fridge is ideal…. if it will fit.”

To see the examples of Simon’s work, visit his Facebook page and Instagram profile!

  • Pam Pollard

    Question… do you clean out the pumpkin when making a 3D pumpkin?

    October 24, 2022

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