How to Carve a Great Jack-O-Lantern

Fall is here. Fall means October. October means Halloween and Halloween means pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns.

Carving a pumpkin into a jack-o-lantern sounds like a very simple task. However, like with everything else, there is an art to great pumpkin carving.

Of course the general triangular eyes, nose, and mouth are not so difficult. However, most of you know that there are many more options out there when it comes to pumpkin jack-o-lantern design.

The first step in carving a great pumpkin is to buy a great pumpkin. Think about what type of design you will make. Will you need a rounded pumpkin or an oblong pumpkin? How big will your pumpkin need to be? If you plan on making a large detailed design, you will need a larger pumpkin. If you are carving a simple design, you may be able to use a smaller pumpkin.

Once you have your pumpkin, the fun begins. Begin by using a sharp knife to carve around the pumpkin’s stem. You will need to carve a big enough area to fit your candle or light into. Make sure that you do not trim the lid of the pumpkin or it will fall through once sat back on the pumpkin top. Use a large spoon to scrape the inside of the pumpkin out. Be certain to get all of the seeds and guts out of the pumpkin. Carve some of the meat from the inside bottom to create a flat surface for your candle to sit on.

After selecting and gutting the perfect pumpkin, draw your design on paper. Use a piece of paper about the size of the area of pumpkin that you have to work with. Hold the paper up to the pumpkin and make sure that the design will fit. Next transfer the design to the pumpkin face. Use a pencil in case you make a mark or cut by mistake. A pencil mark does not show as much as a marker or pen.

Next use a sharp small knife to penetrate the first layer of the pumpkin. Use the knife to carve all around the lines of your design. Cutting one layer of pumpkin at a time keeps from making mistakes or breaking the design. Continue to cut around the design until the pumpkin pieces fall loose. You may find that using a bigger knife on bigger areas of the design is easier. However, any details should be cut with a small paring knife.

Once the design is carved, place a candle inside and light it. Check to make sure that your candle is the right height.

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