Halloween is my family's favorite holiday and every year each person picks a pattern they like and I carve them a pumpkin. I enjoy doing it but every year I spent hours carving 3-4 pumpkins that only lasted a few days. Two years ago I decided to give foam craft pumpkins which are also called Funkins a try. Craft pumpkins are made of a foam like material that is hard to the touch yet easy to carve into. They are hollow inside and have foam walls that are about 1/2 an inch thick. They come in several shapes, sizes and colors just like real pumpkins but I wish that they had a few more sizes and shapes to choose from. They cost about twice as much as a real pumpkin when they are full price but I purchase mine at Michael's where they frequently have them on sale or I use a coupon which brings the price down to about the same price as a real one.
The steps to carve craft pumpkins are basically the same as a real pumpkin with a few exceptions.
1) Pick the pattern you want to use or if you don't want to use a pattern, you can do something free hand. You can transfer the pattern on to the pumpkin by using a poker from a pumpkin carving kit and make small holes around the pattern or you can use a pin to do the same thing. I find that this method is harder to see on the fake pumpkins than it is on real ones so I use a piece of tracing paper and trace the pattern on to the pumpkin instead. You can also go over the pattern with a ball point pen and press down hard which will give you a faint outline that you can then darken with a marker before carving.
2) Once your pattern is on, it's time to make a hole for your light. If you are not going to be lighting your pumpkin up, you can skip this step and go without the hole. With fake pumpkins, you CAN NOT use a candle they will burn or catch fire. There are many single bulb electric and battery operated lights you can use some that even look like candles. For one of my pumpkins, I wanted it to have a green glow so I inserted a whole string of green mini Christmas lights and they worked great. You can make the hole on the top or the bottom of the pumpkin but I personally prefer doing it on the bottom because to me it looks neater and you can place it on top of the light rather than having to reach down inside.
3) You are now ready for the fun part, the carving. To carve one of these pumpkins you can use the pumpkin carving tool sets they sell in stores, good old fashioned kitchen knives or my favorite tool which is my Dremel. They carve very much like the real thing except instead of the juicy mess you get with a real one, you instead get more of a dusty mess. It is a good idea to wear protective eye gear or a pair of glasses and a mask over your nose and mouth to protect them from the dust. If you are using a power tool like a Dremel, it is a must to protect your face and I highly recommend that you do it outdoors or you will be cleaning up dust for months. I was able to achieve the same cuts as I do on real pumpkins and even was able to etch my design on them as well. For those of you who have never tried etching, it is a technique that instead of cutting out parts of the pumpkin and removing them you only take away a few layers of it so that the light shines through the etched areas and illuminates your design that way. If your cuts look rough or jagged, you can smooth them easily with a piece of sandpaper or in areas that are harder to reach, you can use a nail file.
Even though I miss having seeds to roast, I love the way these fake pumpkins turn out and hope that you follow these simple instructions and carve some too.
Update On Mar 13, 2010: Pumpkin carving patterns or templates can be purchased in just about any store these days and you can also find many free pumpkin carving patterns on the internet which is where I found the Disney pumpkin patterns for my pumpkins. You can also use simple pictures from coloring book pages for something even more unique.
Update On Jul 12, 2010: I was in Michael's Arts and Crafts this weekend and they were already setting up all of their Fall decor including the Fake Craft Pumpkins. So far I have not seen any new sizes of styles but hopefully they will be getting more in soon.