Pumpkins

One of my favorite pumpkin carving sites is Zombie Pumpkins. They have the best stencils, and they really know what they’re doing. One of my favorite pumpkin carving sites is Zombie Pumpkins. They have the best stencils, and they really know what they’re doing.

The key to carving a great pumpkin is, of course, the stencil you use and your tools. You can purchase pumpkin carving kits from many different stores (ie. craft stores and your grocery store), but usually the stencils that come with them are really cheesey. Basically you are just buying the pokers and saws. Some come with a handy scoop too, but I find an ice cream scoop works the best.

If you want to save the seeds to roast them, check out the recipe in the foods section.

Always photocopy your stencil so if it rips, or if you want to use it again, you have the original. Blow up or shrink your stencil to fit your pumpkin, and choose a pumpkin shape that best suits your pattern. It’s best to know what pattern you will do before you buy your pumpkin, and it’s a good idea to take your stencil with you when you’re purchasing.

You can paint your pumpkins dark colors to show the design better, and use a candle specific for for Jack-o-lanterns or the artificial pumpkin lights (The latter are very safe for parties and they run on batteries).

Most of all be creative with your jack-o-lanterns, and make them scary!!

More pumpkins carving tips: 

When cutting the top of your pumpkin, be sure to make cuts at an angle so your top won’t fall through the pumpkin.

Put newspaper or a green garbage bag down on the table before you start to scoop. It make cleanup really easy.

Don’t carve your pumpkin too early. Wait AT LEAST two days before your party or Halloween. Otherwise it will just rot. (Keeping it in the fridge prolongs it’s life).

When you are finished scooping your pumpkin, wash it off in the sink with soapy water. Use a paper towel to dry it before you start the stencil process.

Some stencil kits say to cut the shapes on the pattern and then draw them on your pumpkin. This is not very precise. If you don’t have a kit that contains a poker, use a cocktail skewer or at worst a toothpick, poke holes along the lines of the pattern so that when you pull it off there holes all around what you have to cut. This makes intricate patterns very easy to carve.

When taping your pattern to your pumpkin, make slits along the paper’s edges so it can form to the roundness of the pumpkin better, and that helps the pattern to stay in place and lie flat.

You can make amazing jackolanterns with these great pumpkin jack-o-lantern stencils

 

Skull Jackolantern Stencil

Bat Jackolantern Stencil

Cat Jackolantern Stencil

Ghost Pumpkin Stencil

Witch Pumpkin Stencil

Pumpkin Face Stencil

 

Lighting Tips:Light a small candle and place it inside the pumpkin. Votive candles in glass candle holders are a pretty safe bet. Plain white candles will give off the most light. If you replace the lid while lit, a blackened area will form inside the top of the pumpkin. You can cut a 1 or 2 inch hole in that blackened area to act as a vent to allow heat and smoke to escape.

Preserving Tips:

Once carved, a jack-o-lantern doesn’t last more than a few days before starting to dry out and shrivel up. Coat the cut edges with a generous layer of petroleum jelly (like Vaseline) or white glue. Use your finger on large openings and a cotton swab to coat the tiny openings. This helps seal in the pumpkin’s moisture, extending its life to a week or more. You can also store a jack-o-lantern in the fridge when not on display and soak a dried out pumpkin in water to bring it back to life. But you can spare yourself some of that trouble by carving as close to Halloween as possible.

Photography Tips:

Light your jack-o-lantern and turn out any other lights. A camera’s flash will over-light the surface of the pumpkin and you won’t be able to see the glow from inside. So turn off the flash (or just cover it if your camera is auto-flash only). Since you aren’t using flash, you’ll need to hold the camera very steady (a tripod would be ideal). A photo taken this way will show only the carved design. If you want to see the outside of the pumpkin as well, illuminate it with an indirect light (dim lamp or candles), or photograph outside at dusk.

Misc. Tips:

Things you can add to your add to your pumpkins to make them more original are twigs and branches and other plants. Put them into the top of your pumpkins to make hair or just as a creepy addition.

Paint your pumpkins for ultimate lighting effects.

Use different items to to carve your jack-o-lantern out of such as green peppers, squashes and gourds.

For a nice fall centerpiece, scoop a pumpkin and place inside a small vase with flowers of the season