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Carving a foam pumpkin (success and failure)

Have you ever had an idea that seemed simple to accomplish but turned out to be a total disaster? Yes? Ahh, I feel your pain.

The failed first experiment

After attempting to carve a Luigi's Mansion foam pumpkin with a Dremel tool (see images below), all I really accomplished was making a HUGE mess of my dining room and getting foam fuzzies in my hair.

Even on the highest setting, the various attachments for my Dremel were not enough to carve fully into the pumpkin while being able to move the Dremel. My final try was an attachment that instead of carving, would shave down layer by layer. Since I never worked with foam pumpkins before, I had no idea the foam would just SPRAY EVERYWHERE in little particles.

Seriously, it was worse than glitter. And as a contact lens wearer, I HATE glitter.

The successful (and dangerous) experiment

I still had more foam pumpkins at home and didn't want to completely give up on this idea. Thanks to those big brother remarketing ads online, an ad for a "hot knife" came across my feed. In Gina-terms, a hot knife looks to be an x-acto knife that gets heated up to killer temps. It really seemed like something someone made up one day in their house, not an actual tool!

Hot knife
The hot knife of death

After looking at it more in depth, I saw folks saying they used this hot knife specifically for carving foam pumpkins! Into the cart it went.

Time for a PSA on the hot knife: IT GETS HOT. Like really really hot. I honestly felt like I was a kid using the stove when mom wasn't home with this thing. Yes, I'm a 32-year-old adult and yes, using this tool was scary.

Since I still had bad memories of the failed Luigi pumpkin, I decided for a different stencil this time around. Something a little more simple was better for this experiment, anyway. I used a Cricut machine to cut a Gengar stencil and loosely taped it to the pumpkin.

Tracing a stencil onto a round object is a tough job. I've failed many times at it over the years. But I seem to have decent success with loosely taping it to the pumpkin and holding flat down when I'm tracing a section at a time. It takes a little double checking here and there but does the job well enough.

After giving the hot knife time to heat up (PLEASE make sure you keep a close eye on it and always ensure it's on the stand properly), the best way I found for carving was to sit with the pumpkin in my lap. After testing a few spots, the hot knife started to move through the foam like butter. Then I just took a pen and poked the pieces through.

Gengar carved pumpkin
Poking a carved piece through with a pen

After I finished using the hot knife, I went back with the Dremel and used some attachments to try and clean up the edges of the carved spots. This was especially helpful in areas that were curved.

While there's certainly room for improvement, I was quite satisfied with this carved pumpkin! The hot knife and Dremel were both useful for this project so I'm happy things didn't "go to waste."

Even though using the hot knife was scary AF, I definitely will make another foam pumpkin next year with this technique.

How do you like to carve pumpkins?! Let me know!



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