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Pumpkin Carving 101: Make a Great Jack-O'-Lantern for Halloween
All About Pumpkin Carving
Carving pumpkins into Jack-O'-Lanterns is easy once you know a few tricks.
Find everything you need, right here, including the best pumpkin carving tools, tips to make the job easier and help for fixing any silly carving mistakes.
Learn how to make your own stencils, how to choose a great pumpkin (or grow your own) and other ideas to get you started on creating the best carved pumpkin around!
The Right Carving Tools Make it Easier
With the right tools pumpkin carving is easy and you can create a masterpiece in minutes.
Simple designs work best for beginners. Work your way up as your skills increase!
Be sure your pumpkin carving set comes with a poking tool for outlining your design, and a couple knives of differring sizes.
You'll want a tiny knife for getting into the intricate designs and a larger one to make the bigger cuts faster and easier.
This is a good basic set.
This set is fine for carving pumpkins with children. You still need to keep a watchful eye on them. Never leave children alone with sharp objects.
How to Make Your Own Pumpkin Stencil
Alhough you can buy great pumpkin stencils, or even find some for free online, you might want to try making your own pumpkin carving stencils to increase the creativity of your pumpkins.
I do recommend using a "real" stencil design on your very first carved pumpkin so that you can see the way the lines are drawn to include places where the pumpkin flesh needs to stay intact or you might end up very disappointed when your pumpkin falls apart.
Once you've got the hang of it and the feel for it, making your own stencils is fun!
If you're just getting started with making your own pumpkin stencils I suggest you pick a simple design, nothing too intricate.You can either draw a simple picture or find a black and white silhouette of something you'd like to make a jack-o-lantern into, online.I have used both methods and computer paper worked fine for me.
When you choose the size of your object, keep in mind that a pumpkin is not flat. You will need to account for that by making darts (folds) in the paper to get it to fit the shape of your pumpkin.Play around with the paper pattern on the pumpkin to find a suitable area to transfer your design to.
Larger pumpkins work better for the beginner because there is more flesh to work with.
Once you've found the right spot, tape the design to the outside of the pumpkin and using your pumpkin poker tool (found in most pumpkin tool kits) poke holes around all of the lines in your drawing, you can then remove the stencil and begin your pumpkin carving.Have fun!
My first home made pumpkin stencil was in the shape of the hatchet guy from the music group Insane Clown Posse. Both of my boys loved it! And it was so easy to do.
This is a must for intricate designs.
Makes carving intricate pumpkin designs as easy as tracing drawings.
From a Famous Pumpkin Carving Family
The Ultimate Pumpkin Carving Set of Tools
This is the ultimate set of tools for the super serious pumpkin carver.
They don't need to be this fancy but,
Toothpicks will come in handy for fixing any carving mistakes you make and they help you get into the tight spots.
Quick Fix for Pumpkin Carving Mistakes
Say you are almost done carving your pumpkin and you are working on a tight spot when all of a sudden . . . Oh No!
A little piece of your masterpiece falls off. Don't worry! You don't have to start all over with a new pumpkin.
To fix most pumpkin carving mistakes all you need is a toothpick. Simply break off a section of a toothpick big enough to slide into both the pumpkin and the broken piece. Slip the toothpick into the pumpkin, leaving part of the toothpick exposed and then just slip that little broken piece back into place by sticking it onto the exposed toothpick.
For larger mistakes, you may need to use more than one toothpick sections.
What is your level of expertise?
Are you an experienced pumpkin carver?
How to Grow Your Own Pumpkins for Carving
Once you start carving pumpkins, you won't want to stop. Why not grow your own pumpkins so you'll have plenty on hand?
When you think of Autumn or Fall, you just can't help thinking of pumpkins. What would Halloween be without glowing Jack-o-lantern faces lighting the night? Without pumpkins nearby, chrysanthemums just wouldn't be the ultimate Autumn decoration that they traditionally are, and don't even get me started on a Thanksgiving celebration without pumpkin pie.
I mean without pumpkins, Fall just wouldn't be Fall at all. Without pumpkins, Fall would just be like, like . . . Spring again maybe, or a really cool Summer. So when you're planning your garden, don't forget to leave a space for the most important vegetable of all, pumpkins! Without them, you'd be missing an entire season.
Pumpkins are actually members of the squash family. They grow on vines and come in many different sizes from the tiny all the way to the humongous. They are mostly found in various shades of orange but some types of pumpkin can be found in white (Perfect for using on that ghostly carved jack-o-lantern).
Before choosing which type of pumpkin you'd like to grow in your garden, you need to decide what you are going to use the harvested pumpkins for. If you want pumpkins mainly for carving, choose a round variety with a softer skin.
If you want to grow pumpkins mainly for eating, choose a variety that has a more flavorful taste.
The most important thing to remember when growing pumpkin seeds is that the tiny pumpkin seed you plant after all danger of frost has passed, will grow into a huge vine so be sure to give your pumpkin plants lots of space. Some pumpkin vines can spread up to ten feet.
Pumpkins have a long growing season so if you live in a colder climate you may need to start your plants indoors, three or four weeks ahead of time and then transplant them after all danger of frost has passed.
Pumpkins need a lot of water and fertilization in order to mature properly and reach their fullest potential. They produce both male and female flowers and need proper pollination to allow for the pumpkins to form. Don't chase those bees away!
If your goal is to have the largest pumpkin on the block, you will need to remove all but one pumpkin from each vine to allow all the nutrients and growing power to go to it.
To avoid disease never plant pumpkins in the same spot in the garden two years in a row.
Pumpkins are ready to be harvested when the rinds have hardened and they become the proper shade of orange or white for their variety.
Cut pumpkins from their vines using a sharp pair of garden shears, leaving a three to four inch length of the stem attached.
Pumpkins can be kept for weeks in a warm dry place when stored at 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit.