One of the most fun (and messy) activities of the fall season is pumpkin carving. Whether you’re doing it with family and friends or for the sake of showing off your prowess to the neighbors, carving a Halloween pumpkin is a traditional experience that shouldn’t be overlooked. If you’re a seasoned carver and steady of hand, you’ll find listed below 10 websites with downloadable stencils tricky enough to try your patience, but that will be sure to have your trick-or-treaters oohing and ahing.
Scroll down to find the free patterns. My favorite is the Owl Mask, found under the 2016 list. With its many small, delicate pieces, this particular stencil will take some care in cutting, but the finished product is sure to be very pretty and mysterious.
This is a fun site with everything from the standard ghoulish faces, black cats and zombies to such familiar characters as Lord Voldemort, E.T., and Freddy Krueger. I recommend exploring, as there are close to 200 unique patterns to choose from. My personal pick from this site is a pattern of Jack (the one with hands) from The Nightmare Before Christmas. The only drawback to this site is that it is not free. To print the patterns, you have to join the site, but you can pick between different levels of membership. If you’re interested in only one or two stencils, I recommend the $2 sampler.
You can find some very tricky and intricate patterns here. These will require that you not only cut into the pumpkin, but also shave away portions of skin to achieve a more textured, layered look. My favorite from this site is the Unicorn. The mane and tail on this one could be difficult to cut without accidentally losing some of the details.
This site has a variety of patterns, many of them non-traditional. There are a number of portraits of famous actors and cultural heroes. My picks from this site are Alfred Einstein (have fun with his hair) and, listed under the “Other” category, the Theatre Masks.
There are several stencils on this site that look rather tricky, but I like the Scarecrow stencil both for the challenge it presents (be careful with the cornstalks!) and as a more cheerful Halloween option.
Spookmaster, like Zombiepumpkins.com, is not totally free. They do have some free options, but to use the majority of their 200 + patterns, you have to subscribe to the site. My choice from this site is, unfortunately, not one of the free ones, but this nasty-looking Joker is very cool and quite challenging. You’ll feel proud of yourself for managing it.
The World Wildlife Fund has a number of free animal-themed stencils on their website. Scroll down to view your options, and then click on the link at the top of the page that reads, “View all stencils, download art, and instructions.” I love the gorilla.
The History Channel has several free templates to download, many with patriotic themes. I like Mt. Rushmore or the Lincoln Memorial, but if you prefer something a little more traditional, there’s also a great flying bat in the second row from the bottom.
This is a great howling wolf stencil, and big enough to still be recognizable in case you mess up somewhere. For other free patterns on this website, check the link in the navigation bar at the top of the page.
Hopefully these sites have given you some good ideas. Now, pick a pattern, and get carving!