It’s that time of year! The weather has cooled, the leaves have turned, and you are ready to celebrate the bounty of fall. Not only is it the time to eat warm fall soups and stews and make fall craft projects, it’s also the moment to hone your pumpkin carving skills in preparation for Halloween. Whether you are a beginner carver or have years of experience, these simple tips will ensure that you have the best carved pumpkin on the block. Check out our gallery of pumpkin carving ideas for loads of step-by-step tutorials for ways to put your newfound knowledge to use. Happy carving and....BOO!
Wipe Down Pumpkins to Keep Them from Rotting
Before carving, wipe down the outside with a diluted bleach solution. This will remove microbes that cause decay. When cleaning out the pumpkin be sure to remove every bit of pulp so it won't attract any bugs. After carving wipe down all the surfaces, inside and out. Keep your carved pumpkin out of direct sunlight and refrigerate it for up to ten days when not on display, especially if you live in a warmer climate.
Open from the Bottom
This maintains the pretty pumpkin shape. Also, a lot of the gunk inside the pumpkin settles at the bottom overtime, so when you remove the opening much of the string and seeds will come out with it, making cleaning easier. Lastly, this also makes placing and lighting the candle easier. Set the candle on the base–you can use long t-pins stuck through the candle into the pumpkin to help hold it in place–and then lower the pumpkin over it.
Separate the Seeds and Goop
As you clean out the pumpkin, put the seeds and goop in a large bowl of cold water. Give it a few good stirs and a lot of the gunk will fall to the bottom of the bowl while the seeds float to the top. Once they are separated and patted dry, roast the seeds with just oil, salt and pepper or give them a sweet and spicy treatment.
Thin the Walls of the Pumpkin
Now that the pumpkin is cleaned out, you will want to thin the walls. Pumpkins tend to have very thick walls, and for the light to shine through, especially if you are etching a design, you will want to thin it to about 1-inch thick. The best and quickest tool for this job is potters’ loop tool. The sharp edges make quick work of biting through the soft pumpkin flesh.
Plan and Draw Your Design Before You Start Carving
When designing anything, it’s always a good idea to plan out your design before jumping in, especially when you are working with something (like a pumpkin) where there is no going back once you have made a cut! Use a pencil, ball point pen, or tracing paper to draw the design on the pumpkin and then get carving.
Kids' Pumpkin Carving Sets Are the Best!
The small saw-type knives in kids pumpkin carving sets are the best for digging into your design. They are small and easy to handle, and the blades are flexible so you can easily turn corners and make round shapes.
For Etching, Try Potters’ or Printers’ Tools
A potters’ loop tool or a lino cutting set used by print makers’ are the ideal tools for carving out these fine details.
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