• Nilni Kamburugamuwa

Pumpkin Carving 101

Updated: Oct 10, 2021

Carving pumpkins is a typical Halloween activity. For some, it's a fun thing to do, but for other it's more of an art project. Nonetheless, if you're new to pumpkin carving, it can be a rather gruesome process that makes you rethink your decision. For the likes of you, there are several tips that can help get through the pumpkin carving experience without making a mess out of it. So without further ado, let's get right to it!

What you'll need:

  • Pumpkin

  • Carving tools

Tip 1: Picking Your Pumpkin

The finished look of your jack-o-lantern does not entirely depend on your carving skills. No matter how good you are at it, if you don't have a good pumpkin it'll be really tough to get the job done. So how do you pick your pumpkin? There's a neat trick to finding the perfect pumpkin and it's all in the stem. The greener the stem the better. It's also good to get a pumpkin with a thicker stem as it usually indicates thicker walls which are sturdier and great for carving.

Tip 2: Wait

Now some of you might find it hard to tone down your excitement upon receiving a pumpkin and decide to try carving it right away. But if you carve the pumpkin days before the event, by the time you put it out for display it would be wrinkled and decayed. So don't start carving it until it's no more than a 24 hours away from the day you plan on displaying it.

Tip 3: Leave The Top Alone!

We most often see people cutting the top of the pumpkin off to scoop out the goop. While that makes it easier to get all the gunk out it can also make your pumpkin wither much sooner. So it's better to cut the bottom. This would even make it easier for you to light it up without the risk of burning your hand. It's even better if you can cut the side out since cutting the bottom can leak out juices rather easily and make a mess.

Tip 4: Scoop It All Out

Among the tools available for pumpkin carving, you might have seen a fat spatula like tool with a jagged edge. This is because simply getting rid of the seeds is not enough. You have to thoroughly scrape at the walls of the pumpkin and get rid of all the stringy bits out. This keeps the pumpkin dry and helps reduce mold.

Tip 5: Have A Plan

Having a sketch of what you want is always recommended since starting directly on the pumpkin can end up in loads of mistakes that can be tough to patch up.

Tip 6: Transferring The Pattern

If you're not a very artistic person, accurately transferring the pattern onto the pumpkin can be a tough task. So try drawing / printing out the design in real size, then place it over the face of the pumpkin and trace the pattern onto it using toothpicks.

Tip 7: Two Tone Effect

Rather that cutting right through the pumpkin wall you can try shaving it down while leaving a thin layer intact. This will give your pumpkin a two-tone effect once lit.

Tip 8: Makeup

If your pumpkin has spots and blemishes that make it look less appealing, you can use some acrylic paint to color over them. This not only covers the spots but also makes it look brighter. However, leaving it as it is is also a great option if you want a ghoulish looking Jack O' Lantern for Halloween.

Tip 9: Preserving

You must keep in mind that unlike most other Halloween decorations, a pumpkin falls under the category of food. And food gets spoiled with time. So pop your carved pumpkin in the freezer to keep it looking fresh and last longer. In addition to that, you can apply petroleum jelly (Vaseline) on the edges so that it doesn't dry out and wrinkle.

Tip 10: Switch To Electric Lights

Using candles to light up the Jack O' Lanterns is a tradition. But the heat from them can make the pumpkin cook and lose its rigidity. So switch to an electric light source maybe like those cool fake candles I remember seeing all over my Instagram and Facebook.

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