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Carving Artificial Pumpkins

Oh. My. God. I discovered this weekend that carving artificial pumpkins is totally flipping addicting!

I’ve always loved carving real pumpkins, but never really got adventurous with the designs, knowing that the thing would be mush in a week or so. I recently found some artificial pumpkins on sale, picked up a few, and suddenly I found myself carving pumpkins non-stop! If you aren’t familiar with these fake pumpkins, they are made with a solid type of foam that make them both carvable and realistic looking. They come in several shapes and sizes, and even color variations, including white pumpkins.

final white pumpkin carving Carving Artificial Pumpkins

Artificial Pumpkin Carving

Funkins Carving Tips

I started out with one of my little pumpkins to get an idea of what it was like to work with the material. For the most part, it was just like carving a real pumpkin, which as we know can be a bit challenging sometimes. The foam is thick and requires as much pressure to cut it as a real pumpkin.

small funkin pumpkins Carving Artificial Pumpkins

Mini Funkins Pumpkin Display

The tools I used at first was a very cheap wood carving set, which for this kind of job, worked just fine. They made perfect little squares and circles, and sliced through patterns pretty well. A little saw might have been better for longer cuts, but most of the stuff I was working on were small, short cuts. I experimented with carving out only the skin of the pumpkin, leaving the “flesh” intact. That turned out OK, but the foam looked pretty ragged.

But then my husband brought out the Dremel power carving tool and it was like a hit of crack, I swear to you! I still needed the carving tools to make the small squares, but the Dremel was my new tool of choice.

That is, until I started making mistakes with the Dremel. Mistakes that were hard to fix and that started to tick me off.

Fixing Pumpkin Carving Mistakes & Troubleshooting

Getting Sharp Corners

Some of the mistakes I made with the Dremel might just have been because I didn’t have the right drill bit to use. But regardless, it’s pretty hard to get into tight angled corners with a round cutting bit. You get ‘sloppy’ corners that don’t look like they are supposed to:

dremel corners Carving Artificial Pumpkins

Cutting corners with a Dremel

The way to get sharp corners is to go back in with a straight carving tool and carefully clip out the remnants that the Dremel left behind. Easy peasy.

Paint Fraying and Peeling

I noticed that sometimes the dremel breezed through the foam pumpkin, but left behind some frayed paint coating like this:

frayed edges funkin pumpkin Carving Artificial Pumpkins

Frayed Edges on the Funkin from Dremel cutting

The way to get rid of it was to go back with a sanding bit and clear away the flakes of paint. DO NOT peel them off, because they will peel away from the part of the pumpkin you want to stay intact!

Ragged Cuts in the Artificial Pumpkin

Once that sanding bit came out, it was hard to stop. I was able to clean up a lot of my mistakes with it. Rememer the ragged cuts in the foam I got from the wood carving tools? Smooth as can be with the sanding tool. Plus it made it look much more realistic instead of bad exposed foam:

jagged pumpkin cuts Carving Artificial Pumpkins

Jagged Cuts in the Artificial Pumpkin

After I cleaned up some of the edges, I ended up getting really anal retentive about making all of my edges smooth. So I took the Dremel bit and sanded over every single one of my previous cuts and edges. I would never go though this much trouble for a real pumpkin – but since I knew the artificial pumpkin would last, I wanted to make it as perfect as possible.

Fixing Cuts You Didn’t Want to Make

The most frustrating part was when I didn’t hold onto the Dremel hard enough and it went awry on me. That sucked. So instead of letting it ruin the pumpkin pattern, I incorporated the mistakes into my design.

I started making swirls on the sides of the pumpkin, with the intention of the ends looking clean like they did in this first shot. But then the Dremel made a big hole on the end of the swirl like in the second shot:

pumpkin cutting mistakes Carving Artificial Pumpkins

Pumpkin Cutting Mistakes

So I could have made all of the swirls wider, which would have been a huge pain. Instead I just went back and added random ‘dots’ to the swirls, to make it look like they were there on purpose. I liked that look better in the end, anyway!

swirl design elements Carving Artificial Pumpkins

Turning Carving Mistakes into Design Elements

But the one thing I couldn’t fix this way was that one of my more fragile carvings broke right off.

attaching broken pumpkin pi Carving Artificial Pumpkins

Attaching Broken Pumpkin Pieces

My attachment point was t-i-n-y, so I had to use something very thin to attach the pieces together. A toothpick would work if I had a little more width to work with. But I didn’t, so instead I used two small segments of floral wire. I stuck them into both ends, and gently pushed them together. I found out the hard way that Funkins are stronger than skin, and in my first attempt the wire shot right into the end of my thumb. OUCH. So please be careful with this step!

Some of the paint chipped when the part broke off, so I touched up the seam with a little bit of off white paint. I’ve zoomed in very closely in this photo, but you can’t really see the fix if you’re standing and just looking at the pumpkin.

Pumpkin Carving Patterns

I have a lot of posts of pumpkin stencils I’ve drawn myself or hacked out of clip art:

Disney Pumpkin Stencils

Scary Pumpkin Stencils

Cute Pumpkin Stencils

Spongebob Pumpkin Stencils

Hello Kitty Pumpkin Stencils

Avengers Pumpkin Stencils

Discussion

12 comments for “Carving Artificial Pumpkins”

  1. [...] Make these pumpkins last by carving artificial pumpkins! [...]

    Posted by Scary Pumpkin Stencils | Fantasy Jr. | September 30, 2009, 10:23 am
  2. [...] Make these pumpkins last by carving artificial pumpkins! [...]

    Posted by Ni Hao, Kai Lan Pumpkin Carving Patterns | Cartoon Jr. | September 30, 2009, 10:25 am
  3. [...] these pumpkins last by carving Funkins pumpkins! Spongebob Pumpkin Stencil Patrick Pumpkin [...]

    Posted by Spongebob Pumpkin Carving Patterns | Cartoon Jr. | September 30, 2009, 10:30 am
  4. [...] Carving Artificial Pumpkins | Craft Jr. [...]

    Posted by Barbara the Virtual Coach's Journal - Page 16 | October 1, 2009, 8:48 am
  5. These are SO COOL! I am tweeting this right now :)

    Posted by Amanda | October 1, 2009, 8:10 pm
  6. Hi:

    My name is St0ney, And I run the stoneykins.com pumpkin pattern website

    I just added a link to this page on my pumpkin carving forum.
    (Some Great Tips)

    There is a section on the forum for Foam pumpkin carving, along with a real pumpkin carving section.

    Check out the Forum for more great carving tips. and for some great carving Idea’s

    Happy Carving !

    St0ney

    Posted by St0ney | March 9, 2010, 10:42 am
  7. [...] of free pumpkin patterns, plus if you want your pumpkins to last, here’s a guide on how to carve artificial pumpkins, [...]

    Posted by 101+ Kids Outdoor Activities, Outdoor Crafts & Outdoor Games | Fantasy Jr. | July 21, 2010, 2:48 pm
  8. [...] permalink Heres some handy tips on funkin carving with a dremel over here…. http://www.craftjr.com/carving-artificial-pumpkins/ [...]

    Posted by 2 new jackolanterns - Page 4 - Halloween Forum | August 15, 2011, 4:04 pm
  9. [...] countryliving.com via Ana on Pinterest Source: None via Keisha on Pinterest Source: craftjr.com via Kristen on Pinterest Source: marthastewart.com via OedipaMaas on Pinterest Source: [...]

    Posted by Decorar: Halloween…blancas y radiantes calabazas | ideasdecorar.com.ar | January 3, 2012, 9:47 am
  10. [...] if you want to make these pumpkins last for many years, use the carving artificial pumpkins tutorial on Craft [...]

    Posted by Classic Disney Pumpkin Stencils | Cartoon Jr. | July 23, 2012, 11:50 am
  11. [...] and carve it into one of those artificial pumpkins? I’ve done both – I posted a whole page of tips back in 2009 if you want to go the “Funkins” pumpkins route. I think both have their merits between the authenticity & nostalgia of carving a real pumpkin [...]

    Posted by Retro Witch on a Broom Pumpkin Carving Pattern @ Vintage Fangirl | October 12, 2012, 2:15 pm
  12. [...] craftjr.com via LeAnn on Pinterest « Станислав [...]

    Posted by Идея как да си изрежете и украсите тиква за Хелоуин | October 19, 2012, 9:36 am

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