arts and cultureIssue 18pulse

DIY Pumpkin Carving

jack o lantern-01 diy issue 18

by Alex Cantatore

Don’t settle for a plain, saw-toothed Jack-o-Lantern this year. It’s easier than you think to have the best carved pumpkin on your block.

1. Use the Right Tools

If you’re using a pumpkin carving kit with orange plastic tools, that’s your first mistake. Try using X-Acto Knives, linoleum cutters, and sculpting tools; these metal tools will carve more easily, helping you to shape the pumpkin as you wish.

2. Angles Matter

When you cut that top off, be sure to cut it at an angle. The angled cut will keep the top on top — not falling inside of the carved pumpkin.

3. Get Scraping

After you pull out all the yucky pumpkin goop, you’ll want to scrape the inside of the pumpkin. Use a large metal spoon or a ice cream scoop, and don’t be timid. You should thin the walls to the point where they’re only an inch or so thick.

4. Transfer the Design

Put the Sharpie down — you’ll never get that black ink off of your masterpiece. Instead use a waterproof marker, or dry erase marker, with ink that washes right off the pumpkin. You can also print out your design, then use a thumbtack to trace the pattern with microscopic dots. Or you could use a projector to easily project a design onto your pumpkin.

5. Carve – Don’t Cut

Don’t feel like you need to cut all the way through your pumpkin. If you carefully remove the outer skin while leaving some of the flesh, candlelight will glow through with eerie beauty.

6. Put Those Scraps to Use

Why not use that leftover piece of pumpkin as a spooky tongue for your pumpkin? Or grab a handful of licorice to make some hair? There’s no rule that you can’t add on to a pumpkin.

7. Preserve Your Pumpkin

Don’t let your artwork turn to mush. Dilute some lemon juice and mist it on the cut surfaces to ward off bacteria. And grab a can of cooking spray and spray down those same surfaces to seal in moisture.

8. Smells Like Halloween

Sprinkle some cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove inside your masterpiece. The candle will heat up the aromatic spices, and visitors will think you just pulled a pie out of the oven.

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