Haunted mansion, pumpkin carving tips

A bin of harvested pumpkins. (File photo.) ((AP Photo/Keith Srakocic))

October 24, 2011 11:04:16 AM PDT
A master pumpkin carver has created several ghoulish attractions out of gourds for Screams in the Park, the Chicago area's new haunted attraction inspired by the real life frightful misdeeds of legendary Dr. H.H. Holmes.

Visitors take a step back in time as they enter the sprawling gothic mansion where Dr. Holmes committed his horrific crimes. Rosemont-based Steve Dahlke offers live carving demonstrations Friday and Saturday night (October 28 and October 29).

Screams in the Park
9703 Bryn Mawr Ave
Rosemont, IL

Now-October 31

    Steve's pumpkin carving tips:
  • Children should always have a parent present when carving. Spread newspapers on the table for easier clean up.
  • Plan your design ahead! Before carving, draw a sketch of your finished pumpkin design. Then use markers to draw the pattern onto your pumpkin.
  • Professional patterns are available at craft stores or on-line if you are artistically challenged.
  • Open your pumpkin from the bottom ? not the top! This will give a more attractive final look. Remove the seeds and pulp.
  • Invest in pumpkin carving tools ? they are inexpensive and work well. Make sure the knives have serrated edges. They are available at craft stores or big box stores.
  • Use battery-operated electric lights or votive candles (inside glasses) inside the pumpkin. If using candles, punch a few holes in the top to allow smoke to get out.
  • Finish off the pumpkin by painting the surface with acrylic, tempera or spray paint, and add props or hats or wigs available at craft stores.


If you are afraid of carving a pumpkin or don't have the know-how, there are several options available that don't involve knives at all. Michaels Craft Store has several ready-made kits that can help you create a one-of-a-kind Jack-O-Lantern.


Directions for Pumpkin Panda and Octopus

Adapted from Michaels.com "Cool Piggy Bank" project

    Material List:
  • Craft Pumpkin
  • Spray Paint
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Foam Cylinders- 4
  • Craft Foam:
  • Spray Glitter
  • Paint Markers and Craft Paint
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks

Step: 1 In a well ventilated area, preferably outdoors, spray pumpkin with spray paint in two light, even coats, allowing to dry between coats.

Step: 2 Cut out arms, legs/ tentacles, hair bow/ flowers, ears, eyes and nose from craft foam. Step: 3

Add details to foam cut-outs using paint markers or craft paint. Step: 4

Glue on craft foam pieces using hot glue. Step: 5

Add glimmer by coating finished pumpkin with spray glitter.


Refer to photo to complete project.

Follow manufacturer's directions for all products used.

To give tentacles shape and dimension, glue a length of floral wire to underside of each tentacle and twist as desired.

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