DIY Calligraphy Pumpkin + Free Templates

If you know me, you know Halloween is my FAVORITE holiday. Costumes, candy, pumpkin errything, spooky stories and movies - what's not to love?

My favorite way to decorate for this holiday is pumpkins for two main reasons. One, they are so versatile and add seasonality to your porch without being tacky (read: inflatable graveyards). And two, THEY FEED ME. Roasted pumpkin seeds, anyone?

I generally paint my pumpkins, but this year, I decided to try my hand at carving. You know those pumpkin carving pros that can make beautiful sculptures out of gourds? Yeeeeah, that's not me. Truth be told, I'm not crazy about knives - that's why I generally opt to paint them. But with these templates, it's so easy even I can turn these orange veggies into eye candy.

Here's what you need:

  • A pumpkin. Obviously.
  • Template. I have two free templates for download at the end of the blog post. For these, the white areas inside the circle are the areas to be cut out. You'll see what I mean! For my pumpkin, I chose the Trick or Treat design.
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Graphite pencil
  • Knife
  • Carving tools (optional)

First things first - cut off the top of your pumpkin and scoop out those guts. DEFINITELY save the seeds. Once you have the template printed out, it's time to transfer it to the pumpkin. There's lots of ways to do this, but the simplest way is my favorite. Cover the back of the template in graphite. For this, a dull pencil works best - much easier to cover a wide space! Make sure that there is graphite behind all elements of the design you want to trace. Then cut out the design and tape onto your pumpkin.

After it's all taped down, it's time to trace! Using a sharp pencil or a ballpoint pen, trace along the black lines using a LOT of pressure. The pressure will push the graphite on the back of the template onto the pumpkin. That gives you the perfect line to cut.

Now it's time to cut! Okay, so you have a couple options here. The first is a traditional carving. For this, you will leave the words untouched and carve out around them. You don't need anything special to do this - just the little carvers that come in the kits! Because there are lots of small spaces, you want your knife to be little and flexible.

The other option is to carve away the skin of the pumpkin instead of cutting the entire way through. These look really lovely in the day time AND at night - a little tealight inside will make the areas of thin skin glow. This is what I did. There are lots of ways to do this. I started out with a Dremel that's made just for pumpkin carving (remember how I said I love Halloween but don't love knives? Thus, the crazy pumpkin carving tool). I really can't recommend this enough. It's GREAT for really fine detail, and it's on Amazon for less than $20. 

If the pumpkin is only going to be visible during the day, you don't need to worry about how deep you carve out the areas around the letters - the difference in color and texture will pretty clear. But if you want to put a candle in that bad boy at night, you need to really thin out those areas so the light can shine through. I use little carving tools (but a linoleum cutter will work just as well) to cut the areas deeper.

And that's it! Here's the final product.

Not bad, right? You can download this template and another below. Be sure to post your final product on Instagram and tag @MNYKcalligraphy so I can see your beautiful work!

Trick or Treat Template

Boo Template

And this isn't the only sweet pumpkin action we'll have on the blog this week! Up next: making a pumpkin keg. HELL YES. A big shout out and hugs to my Wedding Consultant Amber who came by to supervise my carving and take pics. She is a DIY queen and specializes in working with couples who want handmade elements for their big days.  Check her out!