That familiar scary carved pumpkin that shows up every Halloween on the family porch is a ubiquitous holiday decoration at this time of the year. When the pumpkin is carved in more unique designs, that tells the neighborhood you are not only creative with a carving knife, but really in the Halloween spirit. The typical carved pumpkin has the two eye holes carved out, along with a nose and a toothy grin. But if you want to put a new look into the carved pumpkin, you can using a symbol that has been around since the seventeenth century: the Puritan gravestone skull and angel wings. Suffice it to say the Puritans did not observe Halloween since it was a pagan holiday to them. The symbol alone might make others take notice of the design and wonder where it came from, especially if they live outside of New England. But there are many older cemeteries in New England where this symbol can be found on gravestones, along with rosettes, whorls, and other simple designs. For further reading on the history of Puritan Gravestone Art, click here. If you are ready to carve your pumpkin for Halloween, let’s get started.
For this project you will need: one medium sized pumpkin, a serrated kitchen knife, ice cream scoop, a linoleum cutting knife or craft knife, newspaper, and a large mixing bowl. Set the newspaper on the surface where you will be carving the pumpkin. Using a pencil, draw a circle around the top of the pumpkin where the stem is. With the kitchen knife, cut off the top of the pumpkin. Start to scoop out the inner flesh with the ice cream scoop and place into the mixing bowl. You can use the flesh in that pumpkin pie. If you love roasted pumpkin seeds, include those in the flesh for later separation. Once the flesh is removed, you are ready to carve the design.
The skull and wings pattern can be found here. You can either directly print this pattern from the site, or download it to your computer and print it. Once printed, cut along the outside of the pattern so it can be traced onto your pumpkin surface. Then fill in the details with a black marker. Before you start carving, note that the only hollow areas will be the eyes. Everything else will simply be engraved, using the linoleum cutting knife or craft knife. As you engrave the surface of the pumpkin, gently brush away any pumpkin shavings on to the newspaper. The wings require some detail work but will look beautiful once done. When your pumpkin is finished, replace the “lid” where the stem is and set it outside on your porch. Or you can also leave it in the center of your dining room table. Your Puritan pumpkin is complete!