diy project: janice’s illustrated + carved pumpkins

A lifelong crafter, I have always loved Halloween. However, as I grow older, I find myself conflicted about how much enthusiasm I can display for this kid-centric holiday. Is it weird to dress up and walk around your neighborhood at 28? The answer is yes. This year, I gave in a little and decided to host a pumpkin-carving party for my friends. I provided hot cider and donuts as an incentive. Giving in to our inner ten-year-olds turned out to be incredibly fun. I highly recommend it!

Whether you have parties to attend, trick-or-treaters to feed, kids to outfit or not, I hope you’ll pick up a pumpkin and try out these lovely carved designs from Janice Nadeau. Her designs are sophisticated and lovely, and they look great in the day and spectacular at night. While the intricacy may seem intimidating, Janice’s instructions are very straightforward and she’s even included the templates for us, making the project easy as pie. Thank you for sharing Janice, and Happy Halloween everyone! — Kate

CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!

I participated in my first pumpkin-carving contest at the very beginning of my career as an illustrator. My work integrates a strong interest for illustration and pattern, and the carving projects I’ve done since then fully reflect this passion. With my latest pumpkin, I created patterns inspired by nature, and tried to evoke the magical effect often seen in the way light is softly diffused by lanterns.Janice Nadeau



1. Using a knife, cut a hole at the bottom of the pumpkin big enough to allow you to scoop out the seeds and pulp. Smooth down the inner walls of the pumpkin.

2. Choose the pattern you would like to carve out, print it and tape it on the pumpkin. Since pumpkins vary in size and shape, you may have to enlarge or reduce the size of your pattern to fit the pumpkin.

3. Using a nail, trace the pattern on the pumpkin by punching holes along the lines so your pattern is printed directly onto the pumpkin once you remove the paper.

4. With the linoleum cutter, draw your pattern by linking all the dots made with the nail. Do not carve completely through the pumpkin meat.

5. Following the outline just cut, remove the outer layer of the pumpkin while remaining inside the pattern’s lines. Do not carve completely through the pumpkin; leave a portion of the meat to give a frosted glow to your pumpkin once it is lit.

6. Drill holes wherever you want the light to shine through.

7. Place a tea light inside. If you did not carve through the skin of the pumpkin at any point, it is necessary to cut a hole at the back of the pumpkin for safety and ventilation.

  1. what a sweet way to play with pumpkins this season! the floral and foilage designs are wonderful and the step by step doesn’t seem as complicated as i would have thought. now it’s off to the pumpkin patch this weekend! thanks for this lovely post, kate!

  2. Rachel says:

    beautiful pattern! reminds me of russian painted eggs!!!

  3. Cate says:

    Where can I buy linoleum cutters?

    1. Carol says:

      SEE Amazon

      Linoleum Carving Set
      by Alvin and Co.

  4. Jennifer says:

    beautiful!!! love the alternative to the jack o’lantern. had similar things on my brain yesterday with pumpkins

  5. Elizabeth says:

    What beautiful patterns! I don’t think I have ever seen pumpkins with just the outer layer carved like that. So Stunning! If I wasn’t in the middle of a move this would be my next project! There’s always next year!

  6. ASH says:

    this is so pretty! i want to get another pumpkin just to do this :P

  7. This is awesome. I am going to try that leaf one out on Friday…so excited!

  8. These are so pretty. I think Doug has some lino cutting tools that I’m going to ‘borrow’ for this project. Can’t wait to try this. Thanks.

  9. Cat Horn says:

    These are such great designs. I think the large one is my favorite, It reminds me of the PA Dutch Hex signs I grew up with. And the technique you used it very nice, I like the shaved look better to cutting holes. I bought a set of wood carving tools to carve my pumpkins with last year. They are great for this type of work and not too expensive either.

  10. Kelly says:

    So beautiful! Many artist supply stores carry lino cutters, with the most common brand I have seen being Speedball.

  11. Sarah H says:

    What kind of lighting do you recommend? I don’t like the scorching that occurs with candles, and battery-powered tea lights seem to be too weak to shine through the pattern.

  12. Julie K. says:

    These are absolutely beautiful!

  13. Thanks everyone!
    Sarah: I used 2 tea lights in each pumpkin. If you cut about half the thickness of the flesh, the light will shine through the pattern.

  14. oh wow, soooo beautiful!! carving pumpkins has always been one of my favorite parts of halloween.

    we actually featured pumpkin carving on our blog today, too! great minds think alike! :)

  15. Great idea to have the light glowing through, ( by not cutting but carving ON the pumpkin ) beautiful effect- very pretty.
    Check out this post by the way about pumpkin carving :

  16. Natalie says:

    I like to save a few pumpkins for Thanksgiving, and carve them with leaves and other designs – they look nice with all the gourds, leaves, and other fall decorations on the dining room table or on your buffet. Something fun and different! Pumpkins aren’t just for Hallowen!

  17. hoahhh~ those pumpkins are uber pretty! such a great idea to use the carving tool.

  18. Jocelyn says:

    I saw one of the glowing pictures on, and just HAD to come check it out! Wow, beautiful, really!!

  19. Wow… very pretty!! Wonderful post.

  20. My Design Guide loves orange as an accent color – and these carvings are so detailed and textural…..wish we could keep them around all year.

  21. darbie says:

    lovely! they look beautiful all lit up. i also took my pumpkin carving to the next level this year and made some picasso inspired jack-o-lanterns! funtimes!

  22. Merry says:

    These are absolutely gorgeous. I confess I was going to just cut the top off my pretty pumpkins and take & bake the seeds this year, but this looks like an afternoon project of pure design bliss!

  23. bicocacolors says:

    I just found a treasure!
    This blog is awesome, I love it!

  24. tioedong says:

    beautiful. Linked.

  25. erin says:

    These are stunning! I can’t wait to try this. I tried a similar method with partially carved areas on my jack-o-lantern this year:

  26. Tanya says:

    So so sooooooo pretty

  27. Judith says:

    Do the pumpkins last longer if you carve them like this?

  28. I loved this and had to try it! Unfortunately it didn’t work very well for me. I think the “shell” of my pumpkin was too thick so no matter how deep I carved with the lino cutter the light from one tea light wasn’t enough to shine through. It must only work with thin skinned pumpkins! I ended up putting a flashlight inside the pumpkin to get these photos:

    1. grace says:

      love the chevron stripe idea, amanda!

      grace :)

  29. These are so fantastic! What a great idea. I will definitely try this out next year. :)

  30. These are so unbelievably beautiful. You got my hubby’s attention! He wants to try and carve it up.

    Thank you for sharing these. I’m going to share it on our blog.

  31. Sophie says:

    Stunning pumpkins! There should be far more of these around!

  32. Nina says:

    Very pretty! I believe Martha Stewart has rolled up some christmas-light string around a stable glass, then put that inside the pumpkin (hole in the bottom of it then).

  33. Nina says:

    Oh, and she also recommends treating the cut surfaces with vaseline so that they don’t become brown as fast.

  34. nea says:

    where can i get the pattern for the ornate pumpkin with all the flowers and dots?! i would love to carve this pumpkin, but..the pattern isnt here. help please?! lol

  35. Jen says:

    We are using this project for my upcoming wedding and the pumpkins will serve as centerpieces on the tables. But we are also having troubles getting the designs to glow. We have decided to scrape out a lot more of the meat from the inside. Also, exacto knives and wood chisels work quite well in the carving if linoleum cutters aren’t available.

  36. Beautiful artwork! You can also use a Dremel Tool to do the engraving.

  37. Nicky H says:

    Thank you SO much for posting this wonderful idea! I used your template this year and (I didn’t put enough pin pricks, so it was a little off) but it was so much fun and I got a great reaction! Thank you!

  38. Megan says:

    I was actually looking for some fresh pumpkin carving ideas and at the same time with patterns with them coz It’s really hard for me to carve freehand and i found this. Way too cool! Cheers!

  39. Jasmine says:

    I hate to be the party pooper, but this did not work. At all. We printed the template out, got all the necessary equipment, but our pumpkins were too thick. You end up having to carve really deep in, to have it light up. It took 15 minutes per flower. We have a jack o lantern competition yearly, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pumpkin thin enough to have this possibly work. Good luck to all those who try it out!

  40. Sarah says:

    Amanda, where can I get these patterns? They are incredibly beautiful.



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