Duff's Side Act
Cake whiz and bakery owner Duff Goldman has been carving pumpkins since childhood: He has a scar from an early accident when he ditched his safety carving kit for a real knife. For this design ("not my idea," he admitted), he cut a slice off one side so the pumpkin would sit flat with the stem facing forward as a nose. Then he scraped eyes and a mouth with an X-Acto knife and used toothpicks to "nail" in toasted pumpkin seeds.
Tools: knife, X-Acto knife, toothpicks, marker (to darken seeds)
Elena's Cute Cat
Cake decorator Elena Fox didn't let her pumpkin scraps go to waste: She repurposed the eye punch-outs as ears and attached them with toothpicks.
Tools: knife, carving tools, toothpicks
Erica's Wise Owl
Diehard Ace of Cakes fans know that cake decorator Erica Harrison has a thing for owls: She made her own owl-themed wedding cake on air. "I wanted my pumpkin to feel personal," she says. She sketched the owl with a pencil, then shaved off layers of pumpkin without cutting through to give the bird a translucent glow. The eyes are punched out, so they really shine.
Tools: pencil, knife, carving tools
Mary Alice's Laughing Jack
Bakery manager Mary Alice Yeskey grabbed a box of toothpicks (always on hand in bakeries, for testing a cake's doneness) and snapped dozens of them in half to make scary, jagged teeth. "My brother tried this on our family pumpkin once when we were younger, and I thought it was really spooky-looking," she says.
Tools: knife, toothpicks
Anna's Bat Girl
Anna Ellison, the bakery's artistic director, gave her pumpkin a clever bat-shaped mouth. She chose the weathered, flat back side of the pumpkin for the face and used an orange marker to hide the sketch lines. "It just looks cooler," she says.
Tools: knife, carving tools, orange marker
Geof's Evil Bunny
Geof Manthorne, Duff's executive sous chef, said this was the first time he'd ever carved a pumpkin. "I’ve never cared to do so," he says. But he seems to have had some fun with the challenge: He snapped off the pumpkin stem and cut it into thin strips, then broke out the bakery's belt sander to smooth down each piece. He stuck the pieces of stem into the pumpkin as whiskers and hand-carved tiny holes to complete the bunny’s face.
Tools: knife, belt sander, carving tools
Pumpkin photographs by Marko Metzinger/Studio D
Portraits and behind-the-scenes photographs by Donna Rickles