Professional Pumpkin Carver Turns the Festive Practice into Art

When most of us were kids, pumpkin carving at Halloween was a relatively simple affair. You carved a scary face, you put in a candle, and that was about it. But these days, pumpkin carving is a true art form. There are even televised competitions for it, on shows like Halloween Wars. Now, via Wired, we’ve learned just how complex pumpkin carving can get. Two-time Halloween Wars winner James Hall takes us on a step-by-step process in the video below:

The first level is the classic “basic” Jack-o’-Lantern. The kind we see on greeting cards, or in the opening credits to certain iconic slasher films. Level two is still your basic entry pumpkin, with a few more accents to give it an extra edge. This is what most of us usually can accomplish. Level three is the “realistic level,” which is where stuff starts getting difficult. And where it really helps if you’re a decent artist.

The fifth level goes into layered carving, while level six takes us into back carving territory. Level seven is when it gets really hard, as it’s all about 3D carving. This is when it goes from “carving” to “sculpting.” Once you get to level eight, you’re sculpting backgrounds into the pumpkin. And once you’ve reached levels nine through thirteen, you’re adding extra parts, lights, and even mechanical components.

The pumpkin carving work of Halloween Wars winner James Hall.


When you see James Hall’s work on these pumpkins, you see why he managed to win Halloween Wars twice. But if you follow his instructions, you still have time to have some of the best pumpkins on your street this Halloween. If you head on over to James Hall’s YouTube channel, you can see his pumpkins for the Krayt Dragon from The Mandalorian, and the Eyeball Monster from Big Trouble in Little China. Maybe all this will inspire you to create your own pumpkin work of art.

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