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Pumpkin Carving


This page gives simple instructions for Pumpkin carving. Please be careful with the tools and ensure that this is a safe and fun project.

Choosing and Keeping a Pumpkin

Pile of Pumpkins

Pumpkins come in all sizes. You can use large ones on your porch and small ones as lanterns or scattered around as party decorations. You may find the middle-sized pumpkins best as they are suited to the size of stencil you will usually find on the Internet. You should select a pumpkin that has a uniform color and with as few cuts, nicks and marks as possible.

Pumpkins can last from a few days to a week depending on the climate. You can slow down deterioration by keeping them in a cool, shaded place. You can even get special pumpkin preserving sprays and dips.

Tools for Carving Your Pumpkin

There are specialist tool sets available to purchase for carving your pumpkins. If you do not want to go to this expense then the minimum tool set is:

  • Newspaper or plastic to protect your work surface and catch the debris
  • A Thin-bladed knife to cut the pumpkin
  • A tool suitable for gouging out the flesh such as a large spoon
  • A pointed tool or nail to carve the design into the flesh or,
  • Possibly a grease pencil to mark your design on the surface (especially if you are going to use a stencil)

Carving Your Design

Jack O Lantern
  1. Spread out your newspaper and cut the lid. Cut this about 2/3 of the diameter of the pumpkin. Try to cut on an inward slant so that the lid does not easily fall into the center.
  2. Scoop out the inside with your hands and the spoon (if you keep the suitable bits then you can use these to cook some pumpkin recipes).
  3. Carry on until the inside in empty and clean it by scraping with the spoon.
  4. You will want to make sure that the bottom of the pumpkin is cut flat so that it will stand up.
  5. Decide which side will take the carving. You can mark out the design with the grease-pencil / nail by hand or using a stencil.
  6. Remember if you are printing the stencil from a computer that you may be able to print it in different sizes to suit your pumpkin.
  7. Carefully cut out the design using the thin-bladed knife. You will need to push out the pieces when they are loose.
  8. Put a light in the pumpkin.

How To Light Your Pumpkin Carving

There are several ways to light your pumpkin these days. Remember to be careful if you are using naked flames. You can light you pumpkin with:

  • Candles or candle night-lights
  • Small electric lights
  • Glow sticks

And that's it. A carved pumpkin makes a great traditional decoration to impress your visitors.

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