Post updated: 8/4/2021
Not into a scary Halloween? Learn how easy it is to do this cute pumpkin carving idea that makes a cute jack-o-lantern to decorate for Halloween.
The carved pumpkin can also be made into a candy tote for trick-or-treating when you use a craft store foam pumpkin.
If you don’t need a tote, leave off the handles to make a cute carved masked pumpkin Halloween decoration for your home.
I have never been a scary, ghoulish Halloween fan. I have always liked the cheery, smiling pumpkin and happy black cat side of the season.
That didn’t change much when I had two daughters who always wanted to be pretty princesses or cute animals when they were little.
I used to make their costumes and either bought plastic pumpkin or ghost totes for them to carry their candy haul home in.
I love to decorate with pumpkins in the fall, but not carving them as it is a messy job and the pumpkin rots quickly.
Instead, I have learned how easy it is to carve cute and clever pumpkin faces and designs into craft store foam pumpkins using a hot knife.
What is a Hot Knife?
A hot knife is a craft style knife or a hot wire wand pen that you plug into an electrical outlet to get hot. You plug it in as you would a glue gun and the blade or wire depending on which style you use gets hot.
When the knife blade or wire is hot enough, a it cuts through the foam pumpkins like butter, making carving them a breeze with no mess.
I used the hot knife made by Walnut Hollow. It comes with 2 extra blades. Refill blades are available to buy separately.
One blade is enough to carve one or more foam pumpkins if the carving is simple – for more complex carving, you may need to replace the blade after awhile.
I made a monogram wreath last fall using a hot knife. It is an amazing tool that allows you to cut with precision quickly through foam and more.
Where to Buy Foam Pumpkins
I picked up 3 foam pumpkins to create cute pumpkin carving using a hot knife at the craft store. When I saw them, my mind went immediately carving a cute and pretty design into them.
I used the medium size pumpkin in the photo above to to make the tote I am showing you how to make in this post.
I also used a hot knife to carve the small foam pumpkin into a Pumpkin Candy Jar as well as carving the tall one using my house address numbers. When you place a battery-operated candle inside it, and place by a front door, the carved numbers light up to greet trick-or-treaters.
If you haven’t seen these foam pumpkins at the craft store you will be amazed at how real they look until you pick them up. You expect them to be heavy, but they are lightweight and hollow.
Cute Pumpkin Carving Done With a Hot Knife
To make the pumpkin tote or as my daughters used to call their Halloween totes, a pumpkin purse… you will need to gather these materials.
I found all the supplies to make the tote at Michaels craft store.
- Foam pumpkin – I used the medium size
- Electric Hot knife – knife blade style or hot wire pen style
- Purse handles – I used two clear acrylic ones, but one will work as well as any type of purse handls.
- Cat eye mask
- Ribbon – 16 inches
- Silver button or clip-on earring, two silver beads
- Large-eye sewing needle
- Orange craft paint and glitter
- Paint brush
- Small piece of sandpaper or a nail file
- 4” piece of wire or a paperclip
- Wire cutters and point nose pliers
Time needed: 45 minutes.
How to Carve a Cute Design on a Pumpkin
- Figure Out Handle Placement
Place the handles where you want them to go. Make sure you leave a big enough space to create a circle on the top of the pumpkin to cut out the lid so candy can go into the hollow pumpkin.
- Mark Placement
Mark the hole placement with a marking pen.
- Make Holes
Use an awl to make the holes in the pumpkin.
- Optional Step
If your handles are not orange, you can paint them using craft paint. Rough up the smooth surface on the purse handles with sandpaper. Clean off the sanding grit and then paint the handles with orange craft paint.
- Add Glitter
Right after you apply a second coat of paint, sprinkle orange glitter over the wet paint. Let dry. Flip handles and repeat the process on the other side.
- Place Mask On Pumpkin
Place the mask on the pumpkin making sure it is centered and aligned with where the handles are going to go. Use a marking pen to trace the inside of the eyes on to the pumpkin.
- Cut the Eyes Out
Use the hot knife to cut the eyes out. Then cut a circle in the top of the pumpkin to create the removable lid.
- Foam Pumpkin Carving TIP
If needed, use a small piece of sandpaper or a nail file to smooth the cut edge of the foam or plastic pumpkin.
- Attach Ribbon
Thread an 8-inch piece of ribbon through a large-eyed sewing needle. Push it into one hole and through the pumpkin. Use a pair of pliers to help get it through.
- Weave Ribbon Through Hole
Then put the needle in the other hole on the same side working from the inside to the outside of the pumpkin to weave the ribbon through.
Repeat the process with the other 8” section of ribbon on the other side of the pumpkin.
- Attach Handles
To attach the handles: Place them together and thread the ends of the ribbon through the handle holes.
- Tie Ribbon Into a Knot
The ribbon will look like this as each end goes through the holes on the handles. Once each end is through, make sure there is an equal amount of ribbon on each side of the handle.
Pull taut and tie in a double knot under the handles.
- Clip Ribbon Ends
Clip the ends of the ribbon into an inverted “V”.
- Place Mask On Pumpkin
To stop the elastic on the mask from rolling off the pumpkin. Use a paper clip (open it to a “U” shape) or a piece of wire to hold the elastic in place.
The tip of the wire will go right through the pumpkin. Once both ends are on the inside of the pumpkin – twist them to secure and cut off the excess with wire cutters.
- Add Beads for Eyes
Clip a silver earring on the mask to create a nose.
To attach the moving silver eye beads – thread a needle with black thread and knot one end. Place the needle through the hole in the bead until the knot is inside the bead.
You may have to push it in with another needle. Don’t pull the knot out of the other hole on the bead. Attach the hanging bead by sewing it to the center top of each eye.
How to Carve a Pumpkin Into a Tote for a Boy
If you want to make a trick-or-treating tote for a boy, Instead of using a sparkly cat mask, use a dog mask or use black leaves to make a mask shown below.
Photo: Steve Giralt
Notice instead of beads for the eyes, they used painted acorns.
How to Light the Cute Carved Foam Pumpkin
You cannot place real candles in foam pumpkins. Use battery-operated tea light or votive candles to light the purse to use as a decoration when it is not holding candy.
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