Illuminated by candles, jack-o-lantern carving is believed to date back to 19th century Ireland. Much like gargoyles, the frightening carved faces were meant to keep evil spirits away, while also celebrating Halloween and the end of the harvest, also known as Samhain.
Mr. & Mrs. Squash
If carving is not in your skill set, painted or hand drawn designs can be applied to real or artificial pumpkins with very little effort. Because they are not carved, they will last throughout the fall, including Halloween and Thanksgiving.
Most carved pumpkins have eyes, a nose, and a mouth. The shapes and angles determine the expression. The nubby teeth, in the left photo, create a friendly face for young children. On the right, glowing light and mysterious fog take a simple carving to the next level.
This fashionable character is camera-ready for the next Tim Burton film. The black-outlined carvings are an unusual touch, and the hat gives this pumpkin lots of personality.
This carved pumpkin owes its devilish good looks to the absence of a nose. That one little detail, plus the intensity of the light within, gives him a more ghoulish appeal. The orange skin has been removed from the teeth to create a fiery translucency.
Fierce and Fabulous
Jagged teeth, angled eyes and an eerie glow make this pumpkin a formidable character.
Glowing Eyes in the Darkness
Visitors won’t stay long in the presence of these disembodied faces. LEDs produce high intensity light, which flicker like candles and may also change color.
Choosing a short squat pumpkin sets the stage for these menacing characters. The one on the left appears to be glaring and possibly snickering at viewers. The other has fleshy, bloodshot eyeballs highlighted in a creepy orange light. Glow sticks produce softer, otherworldly light in a variety of colors.
Maybe the tooth fairy forgot to leave him money, or perhaps his dentist is on vacation. We may never know why he is so angry, but the message is loud and clear!
Good Mother or Cannibal?
Wild animals often carry their young by the scruff of the neck. Since the teeth are rounded, and the little one does not look frightened, I think she is a mother protecting her baby. What do you think?
The soft rounded features on this gentle kitten create an adorable expression.
This adult feral cat hisses in warning, driving everyone away.
Monsters Under the Bed
Most children believe there is a monster under the bed or hiding in the closet. This monster reaches out to grab passersby if they get too close.
This cute bat reminds me of the movie, “The Little Vampire.” The orange skin had been peeled off the bat to create bold contrast and to achieve a translucent effect when lit.
Things that Go Bump in the Night
Vampire bats, black cats and scary faces are all traditional Halloween decorations.
Nightmare before Christmas
Tim Burton fans will recognize Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King. The stitched mouth and curved brow lend an ominous quality to his expression.
Tinkerbell & Frankenweenie
Disney’s Tinkerbell and Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie are sure to charm your guests.
From the Scream movie franchise, this disturbing face may haunt your dreams.
It says welcome, but the jagged cuts look more threatening to me, as if to say, “Get out!”
Day of the Dead
The intricate details of this skull are remarkable. The orange is the perfect background to contrast with this floral skull, a perfect specter for the Day of the Dead.
I am not sure what kind of monster this is, but my what big teeth he has!
These creepy critters have human faces, with thick vines for arms and legs. The wide-eyed stare and twisted fingers look menacing, as if they might spring forward upon unsuspecting viewers.
Fire Breathing Dragon
This dragon was carved from pumpkin, and the artfully arranged flowers and leaves resemble flames. This multi-layer composition offers textures and fine details, harmonized by the many shades of orange.
Let’s Go Wildcats
To create the delicacy of this fierce wildcat, a piece of pumpkin was carved lying flat. The finished cat was reattached to the round opening, and any cut lines were carefully concealed.
I hope you have found a few inspirational ideas for your Halloween pumpkins. Which design is your favorite? Do you like to carve or paint your pumpkins? Please let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading!
Happy Halloween & Happy Crafting!