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Jess's Jack-O'-Lanterns

If you've read my 'About Me' blurb, you know I love writing, cooking, and watching television. But another favorite creative outlet is carving pumpkins for Halloween! The hubby and I really get into it, and can easily spend hours designing and carving in the days leading up to All Hallows' Eve. Over the last couple years, we've been improving our techniques and tools, and though we'll never reach the heights of the professionals, we've produced some jack-o'-lanterns that we are very proud to show off to the neighborhood. Enjoy!

The 2013 Collection

The Last Unicorn (in both her forms)

Sadly, almost no one knew what these were supposed to be. Everyone thought they were a generic unicorn and possibly a Disney princess. Maybe if I'd been able to actually do the Red Bull design I'd worked up ... Yeah, who am I kidding? The movie probably had niche appeal even back in the day. Sigh.

The Witch King (Lord of the Rings)

My husband has dreams of doing this for a costume one year. For now, he decided to settle for carving a really cool pumpkin.

And for the kids ...

Strawberry Shortcake

Wonder Woman

The hubby did this design for our older daughter. He created the template by modifying a color image he found online. And Wonder Woman won the popularity test with our neighborhood trick-or-treaters this year. Probably because she's very recognizable for all ages!

The 2012 Collection

The Pale Man (Pan's Labyrinth), Frank (Donnie Darko)

We decided to do these designs a year ago. The hubby carved Pale Man and I did Frank. These were our first major non-cut-through designs. We used templates we found online, although I modified mine to make the eyes a lot freakier.

For this one, I modified a template I found online to make the spider creepier. This was my "test pumpkin" for my first non-cut-through design.

Scooby Doo

This was the hubby's test design for his first non-cut-through. Our daughter requested something that wasn't scary!

Jack Skellington (A Nightmare Before Christmas)

Jack was my "test pumpkin" for my new carving saws.

The 2011 Collection


I'm really proud of this one, because I created the design from scratch using various online images for inspiration.

Headless Horseman

This was my husband's attempt to exorcise his demons. The Headless Horseman scares the bejesus out of him!

The 2010 Collection

Sleeping Beauty, Ash (Army of Darkness)

These were our first attempts to branch out beyond creative faces for our jack-o'-lanterns. The hubby wanted to honor his beloved Bruce Campbell and I wanted to do something fun for our daughter. These certainly whet our appetites for more challenging designs!


  1. Holy crap! Those are amazing! My favorite is the spider. I'm hoping the Frank one doesn't give me nightmares... How much time does each one take?

  2. Seriously awesome, Jess and Hubby. Wow! I think I like the dragon the best.

  3. Thanks, guys! Glad you liked them. We really enjoy making them. Sunbunny, it can take several hours from start to finish. I find it pretty absorbing though. I go into Zen mode. I'm just carving away and never thinking, "When the heck will I be done with this?"

    Of course, this year I had to break the carving up into multiple evening sessions, and even then I had to take lots of breaks and keep changing positions!

  4. Oh my God! I would never have the patience. I don't even have the patience to clean them out properly.

  5. Oh, my God! I expected good ones, but these are fantastic. You're really good, Jess!

  6. My goodness, Jess! Those are incredible.

    (The most creative I've ever gotten with a pumpkin is roasting the seeds.)

    So the "non-cut-through" ones--you sort of skim off most of the skin, but leave a thin translucent layer? How on earth do you not accidentally puncture it right as you're finishing? Are you blessed with fabulous luck?

    Gus, have you updated your profile pic to fit the darkest of timelines?

  7. Wow, those are amazing! All I ever managed to do with a pumpkin was refuse to let Dad throw it away, let it rot, and ruin a shelf-ful of books (I was about 6 at the time).

  8. Whooooahhhh Jess !!

    (with the same tone as Lost's season 5)

    You guys are "artistes" (yes, pronounce it in French).


  9. FYI Jess,

    in order to get a "whoooah" from me, it has to be REALLY spectacular....

    (or you have a polar bear as a pet and a crazy neighbour who looks strangely close to Michael Emerson)

  10. Again, much thanks all! Josie, we used linoleum cutters to scrape down the flesh. They have several different blades, give you good control, and let you cut away relatively thin layers at a time. The key seems to be to scrape the inner wall of the pumpkin really thin (to about a 1/2"), so that you don't have to scrape too much away from the front to get good translucency. Shining a flashlight in the top while you scrape helps you judge if you need to scrape more. As you can see, the hubby did better with Pale Man than I did with Frank. I probably could have gone thinner. But I *was* afraid of going too deep!

  11. Awesome pumpkins! I don't even carve ours - that is the kids' job but if I did I would be lucky to create triangle eyes! Your work shows a great deal of talent, skill and patience. Well done!

  12. Those are AMAZING!!! Bravo!!!

    How on earth do you do "non cut-through"?

  13. Jumpin Jesus, Holy Cow! These are amazing Jess, I am so impressed. The spider is my favourite too, Such a great combo of non cut-through and cut-through.

  14. Dear God! These are incredible! Like Doc, I'm always pleased when the triangle eyes come out looking sort of like triangles. Fantastic job, Jess. You should be very, very proud.

  15. Jess - any chance we can see this year's when they are done??? Pretty please?

  16. Yes, I was planning to add them. I'm working on my designs now. I may be getting too ambitious though. We'll see how things turn out!

  17. Wow! Just, wow! I love the imagination and the artistry of these. Wonder Woman is a treat.

  18. Great job!! I love the Wonder Woman one. I miss 1980s Strawberry Shortcake. :(

  19. Thanks, ladies! I'm glad you enjoyed them. And just so you know, sunbunny, my girls do occasionally still watch "old school" Strawberry Shortcake. It's still around. :)

    (Also, I just discovered that if you click on the pictures, you can see a slightly larger, more detailed version of the images. Neat!)


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