We’ve done our fair share of simplistic pumpkin carving -- two triangles for eyes, one for the nose and a jagged open line for the mouth. Put in a votive candle and you’ve got one cute-looking jack-o-lantern. A few years ago I picked up a pumpkin carving kit, which brought things to a whole new level. We now had a pumpkin scraper scoop, carving saws and stencils.
Oh, the stencils! A flamingo and palm tree carved on my pumpkin? A haunted house? A stenciled message such as "BOO" or "Happy Halloween"? The possibilities were endless! Our first venture into pumpkin stenciling was a bat. It turned out quite well. We moved on to more difficult designs and found it was hard to goof up. Here are some tips:
- Cut around the top of the pumpkin at an inward angle so you can later use the cut piece as a lid.
- Clean out the inside of the pumpkin by scraping out the insides. Save the seeds to roast later.
- Tape the stencil to the flattest, smoothest side of the pumpkin.
- Use a nail or poker to make small holes that will outline the stencil. We've successfully used a dry erase marker that can be wiped off when finished.
- Remove the stencil and carefully cut along the holes or lines. Using different sized knives and saws may help. Don't worry if it's not perfect. You can fix things as you go.
- When carving is finished, apply petroleum jelly to all the cut edges to preserve your masterpiece.
- If you do put a candle in the jack-o-lantern, a little cinnamon and nutmeg sprinkled on the inside of the pumpkin lid creates a wonderful smell. Instead of candles, consider small flashlights, battery operated tea lights or glow sticks.
If you’re looking some free stencils try:
Happy carving, and be sure to send in your jack-o-lantern photos to Patch so we can all enjoy them!
Editor's Note: This originally appeared in Perkiomen Valley Patch on Oct. 28, 2011.