Black cats, bats and haunted houses are a few of the telltale signs that Halloween is around the corner. Your nights of trick-or-treating may be long gone, but you can still bring your Halloween spirit back to life. This October, get your chills and thrills with a pumpkin carving that’ll spellbind your visitors.
The size of your pumpkin will depend on the design. A striking, intricate design would call for a large pumpkin. For kids, small-to-medium-sized pumpkins are a good choice as they require less work than larger ones. Take a trip to the pumpkin patch or browse the aisles of your local grocery store to choose a pumpkin that is healthy and ripe, in which the stem is sturdy and color is consistent all the way around. Give it a good flick with your finger. If the sound is hollow, you’re set to start.
Pumpkin carving can be a messy ordeal. First, lay down some newspaper and set a bowl aside to collect the insides.
If your pumpkin is wobbly, level it out by cutting a slice off the bottom of the pumpkin with a keyhole saw or a serrated knife. Then cut a hole in the top, sawing back and forth about two inches in radius from the stem. Be sure to angle the knife towards the center so that the top doesn’t fall straight through. This will be your lid. Make a notch with your knife on the underside so that you know where it fits.
Once you’ve cut out a hole in the top of the pumpkin, you can then flesh it out. Spoon out the pumpkin’s innards, removing the pulp, seeds and strands from the inside, scraping it clean. Less pulp inside the pumpkin will allow more light to come through, and will also extend the life of your jack-o-lantern. Save the seeds if you would like to toast or plant them.
Now, apply your design to the pumpkin. You can either do this the old-fashioned way by drawing the design with a marker or by using a stencil or template, which can be easily found online or in a stencil kit from a store. Tape your template to the pumpkin and use a needle, thumbtack or t-pin to poke holes along the pattern’s lines. Once finished, push the pieces in – you may have to do a little additional cutting if they don’t give right away.
Give your pumpkin the gift of eternal life by placing it in a bathtub filled with cool water, drying it off and coating it with petroleum jelly. Once finished, add a candle, flashlight or LED light to illuminate your work of art. If using a candle, make sure that your pumpkin is properly ventilated by cutting a vent in the lid.
The art of pumpkin carving is an age-old tradition that’s sure to put you in good spirits this season. With a pumpkin, a few instruments and a little hocus pocus, you can carve out a graveyard smash!