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Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Creative Pumpkin Carving Tips and Tricks

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By Kristin Masters

Pumpkin carving is among the best-loved traditions of Halloween. For centuries, European households carved designs into turnips and gourds, placing lumps of coal inside for light. These early Jack O’Lanterns were thought to guide the spirits of loved ones and protect the home from evil spirits. Since then, the tradition has evolved into a fun and whimsical Halloween pastime. Pumpkin carving has developed into a truly unique art form. Creative techniques can help anyone carve a memorable Halloween pumpkin.Pumpkin Carving with the Family

  • While most people opt for the traditional orange pumpkin, virtually any gourd will work. Gourds come in a wide variety of colors and textures, but can be carved just like a regular pumpkin, bringing a new twist to an old favorite.

  • A delicious by-product of pumpkin carving are pumpkin pies and seeds. While many people simply discard the pumpkin’s insides, these materials are edible. The pumpkin meat can be used for homemade pumpkin pie, and the seeds can be roasted for a quick and tasty snack.

  • Diverge from the traditional Jack O’Lantern design and look to pop culture for inspiration. Stencils help create portraits of just about anyone, from movie icons to political figures. Other popular designs include cartoon and comic book characters.

  • Before carving, sketch out a design on the pumpkin’s surface. A dry erase marker works well for this step, but more seasoned pumpkin carvers may prefer outlining the design with an Exact-o knife.

  • Power tools like jigsaws and routers make excellent pumpkin carving tools. Easy to use and maneuver, they are safe alternatives to the usual kitchen knife and offer greater precision. Drills can create holes and circles in a variety of sizes. It is important to wear safety goggles when using power tools.

  • Rather than cutting out a design, etching on the pumpkin skin allows extra flexibility and design intricacy. Because pieces are not cut away, the designer need not worry about “connecting” all the sections. Etched pumpkins also glow beautifully. Incorporate both cutting and etching for a multidimensional look.

  • Props and accessories add new dimension to pumpkin design. Use an old wig to create a pumpkin rock star or celebrity look-alike. To attach gloves or other clothing, drill a hole in the pumpkin, insert a dowel or pencil, and affix the clothes to the base of the dowel.

  • To paint a pumpkin, simply use spray paint and a Lazy Susan. To protect other surfaces from the paint, remove one side from a cardboard box, and place the pumpkin inside, on the Lazy Susan. Simply rotate the pumpkin after spraying each section.

  • If the pumpkin is located near a high-traffic area, where it may be bumped or knocked over, a battery operated candle produces the same glow as a lit candle, but won’t be extinguished if the pumpkin is jostled. This option also eliminates a potential fire hazard.

The key to an innovative Halloween pumpkin is creativity. The durability of pumpkins and gourds make them excellent canvasses for all kinds of artistic exploration. From hilarious to spooky, pumpkins add dimension and character to any Halloween celebration.

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