Tired of the same humdrum pumpkin carving routine year after year? Growing weary of identical jack-o-lanterns up and down your street? Here’s a techy, glowy fix that won’t catch fire, unless you consider the droves of fans at your doorstep too hot to handle.

Today we’re making an electroluminescent jack-o-lantern with EL Wire. I call it….the Jack-EL-Lantern. Trademark, please?

Kids and parents alike will love this project. Caution: the knife and drill should only be handled by an adult for maximum safety.

For us crafty folk and kin, this project is also a reason to dust off the drill for those of us who are novice tool users. Grab that drill, a pumpkin, and any length of EL Wire for this project. I recommend a length of 25 feet, sold at Makershed.com, to do a large face on a full-size pumpkin.




1. Drill and 1/4-inch bit, 2. EL Wire, 3. Skewer or Cocktail Stirrer, 4. Notebook or Paper, 5. Permanent Marker

Enjoy your Jack-EL-Lantern! And post photos of it so you have proof you carved an out-of-the ordinary Jack-EL-Lantern this Halloween.


Project Steps

Sketch and Plan the Face Pattern

Draw out your face on a sheet of paper. I chose a simple design, but go wild.

Indicate entry and exit points on your sketch with dots. Since you’ll be threading EL Wire through the holes, don’t space them too far apart. For curves, keep them about two inches apart.

Mark Your Holes for Drilling

Mark the pumpkin’s face with dots from your sketch using a permanent marker

Cut a Large Backside (ha!)

Carve the back off of the pumpkin. This sounds odd, but you need to be able to see the inside of the pumpkin to thread the EL wire correctly. Plus, your Jack-EL-Lantern will have a beautiful, seamless forehead since you won’t cut off the top of the pumpkin.

Get Drilling

Drill a hole using ¼-inch bit. Any smaller and you won’t be able to get the EL Wire to pass through the same hole twice.

Stitch Your EL Wire

Choose your first drilled hole and thread the entire length through the first hole from within the inside of the pumpkin.

The battery pack (or inverter and power adapter, if you choose that route) should rest inside the pumpkin or just outside the back of it.

Proceed to “sew” your EL Wire into the next hole, pulling the entire length of wire into the pumpkin. Use your skewer or length of wire and poke into the pumpkin so you can see through some of the pulp. I used my metal cocktail stirrer as a way to see through the pulp from the inside of the pumpkin. Don’t poke yourself, unless you want some added macabre drama.

Continue this “dot-to-dot” sewing technique, one drilled hole at a time.

You’ll occasionally need to stitch through the same hole twice, but not on the same pass, since you’ll simply pull your stitch out. The skewer will help you.

As you progress, keep pulling the entire length of EL Wire out so the lines of the face are nice and taught against the pumpkin’s supple orange skin. Flawless, actually. I wish my pores were that small.

Once complete, load up your EL Wire with batteries, or buy an inverter and power adapter from Radio Shack so you can plug it into the wall.

Bask in the Glowing Glory!

Looking good!