Instead of typical jack-o'-lantern designs, show off your love of sports with a hand-carved, themed Halloween pumpkin. Carve the logo or name of your favorite team, or create faux stitches to emulate the look of a basketball, football or tennis ball. Create an homage to your favorite team or sport by printing out a silhouette image of a mascot or a player in action, using it as a template for your sports-themed carving.
Picking the Perfect Pumpkin
If you already have a carving idea in mind, pick a pumpkin that suits the shape well. For example, if you want to make the pumpkin look like a basketball, tennis ball or baseball, pick a pumpkin that is nearly round and looks good from all sides. A team name that has a lot of letters in it may display best on a wide, squatty pumpkin, while a silhouette of a player or a mascot works well on a tall pumpkin. No matter which shape you select, pick a pumpkin that will also display well, with no rotten patches or strange "warts" that may otherwise mar your design.
Sports Ball Pumpkins
A pumpkin's somewhat spherical shape lends itself to carving various types of sports balls; the easiest ones are baseballs, basketballs and tennis balls, which have specific markings that are not too difficult to recreate in carved form. Study an image of the ball you wish to recreate in pumpkin form; then draw out the same types of stitches or lines on the pumpkin using a dry-erase marker, permanent marker or chalk. A dry-erase marker and chalk can be wiped away easily if you need to redraw your lines. Instead of carving all the way through to the inside of the pumpkin, carve the stitches or markings only partway through the pumpkin, leaving at least 1/8 inch of pumpkin flesh on the inside. When lit from within, the pumpkin "ball" will glow through its distinctive markings.
Gear, Goals and Fields
Carve specific sports gear such as hockey sticks, oars, ice skates or a baseball mitt and bat, using clip-art printouts as templates for your project. Print out an illustration of the desired gear in a size that nearly covers one side of the pumpkin, or draw the image yourself on paper or on the pumpkin. If using a paper version, tape the printout to a hollowed-out pumpkin using masking tape; then poke small holes along each line using an awl or a nail. Remove the paper; then cut out the dotted areas using a pumpkin saw from a carving kit. Besides gear, goal posts, basketball nets and sports fields are also instantly recognizable as pumpkin carvings. For designs with numerous lines such as nets or football fields carve the lines only partway through the pumpkin, so they may be backlit without the entire carved design falling away.
Carve silhouettes of a football player rushing with the ball, a batter making contact with a baseball or a basketball player about to make a jump shot. Print out an illustration of a player, or print an image of an actual or team mascot player in action, printed to a size that displays well on your pumpkin. Tape the printout to the pumpkin, and use an awl to poke a dotted line around the outside of the image to create a silhouette. Depending upon the look you wish to achieve, either carve all the way through the dotted lines with a pumpkin saw, or scoop through some of the pumpkin flesh, leaving a thin layer so it glows when lit from within the pumpkin. A team logo or team name may also be carved in this fashion, working from a printout of the desired design. Once satisfied with your final creation, place a battery-operated LED light inside for safe pumpkin illumination.
Kathy Adams is an award-winning journalist and freelance writer who traveled the world handling numerous duties for music artists. She writes travel and budgeting tips and destination guides for USA Today, Travelocity and ForRent, among others. She enjoys exploring foreign locales and hiking off the beaten path stateside, snapping pics of wildlife and nature instead of selfies.