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How to Carve a Pumpkin

How to Carve a Pumpkin

Every year thousands of pumpkins are sold all across America, with many of them destined to become that signature Halloween icon, the jack-o’-lantern. There are many different ways for you to make your pumpkin stand out from the patch, and it’s easier than you think. Keep in mind, this is where you decide how far you want to go and how much time you want to invest. Some of the pumpkins we carve and display for RISE of the Jack O’Lanterns can take up to 20 hours to create. The average person might find this a bit extreme, and so we have ideas from the experts here at RISE of the Jack O'Lanterns for how you can make this activity more approachable but still fun. 

With just a quick Internet search, you can find numerous stencils that will help you bring your favorite characters to life on a pumpkin this Halloween. Many of these stencils are free to download and look great when finished. If creating a more complex image is a challenge you enjoy, there are several sites where amazingly detailed stencils can be purchased for just a few dollars. Either way, you are sure to find images and stencils to inspire and guide you. 

If you decide that you want to take a more independent route and create your own image, you will still want to draw it on paper first. You can then transfer your drawing onto the pumpkin and ensure it looks good before starting to carve. This part is especially fun for children. It can be difficult to find ways for kids to participate safely. Having them nearby drawing jack-o’-lantern faces on paper while you gut and carve is a great way to get everyone involved. 

Now that you have created your ideal design, with either a print out or drawing, it’s time to apply the image to the pumpkin.


Applying an Image to a Pumpkin

There are two efficient ways to transfer an image to a pumpkin. The first is to tape the image onto the pumpkin and trace the lines by poking small holes with a pin or other pointed object. When you remove the paper, the image is left behind and you simply connect the dots. While effective, this method can sometimes leave an image that is easy to lose track of.

The way we do it at RISE of the Jack O’Lanterns is to rub the back of the printout or drawing with soft charcoal. We then tape the paper to the pumpkin and trace it with a pen or pencil. To ensure the best results, you will want to go to a craft store and ask for 6B charcoal. This will leave strong dark lines. This type of transfer can be easier to see, making things much simpler. An added benefit is that, when completed, any stray marks can just be wiped away with a little water.


Let’s Carve the Pumpkin

Before you begin carving, you need to cut a big hole in the pumpkin. One neat trick is to cut a hole in the bottom instead of the top. It helps to keep the pumpkin stable and keeps it looking nice. If you decide that you prefer the more traditional look of a hole in the top, cut the hole with a slanted edge. This will keep the top from falling inside. 

Now that the hole is cut, it’s time to carve the image. Although most people use a regular kitchen knife, we recommend purchasing any of the seasonally available pumpkin-carving tools. We have all seen them at the grocery store or pharmacy, and there is a reason they exist: They work! You may be surprised at how well they actually work. 

Also, many of the commercially available pumpkin carving tools are safe for use by children. The small orange handles and smooth cutting edges are perfect for little hands. Just be sure your child is in the recommended age range for the kit you have selected and that you provide supervision at all times. 

As you begin cutting into your pumpkin, it may be tempting to remove the largest sections first. Don’t do this! Instead, cut out the smaller sections initially. As you begin removing pieces, the pumpkin will get increasingly delicate. You will find it much easier to cut out the small details when the pumpkin is its most stable. So work backwards from the smallest cut outs to the largest. This will help you avoid accidental breaks that would destroy all your hard work. 

Once you have completed your carving, take it to your sink and give it a good rinse. Then pat it dry with paper towels. Once it is completely dry you can then place a candle or electric light inside. Your jack-o’-lantern is now ready to be displayed to the delight of all your neighborhood ghosts and ghouls.

Get your tickets today to RISE Of the Jack O'Lanterns! Click here to buy.

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