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Thursday, October 14, 2010

My tips on how to carve a pumpkin!

Hi everyone. Halloween isn't far away and I thought I would share with you something I enjoy doing at Halloween. I love carving pumpkins! Over the years I have created some wonderful designs (someone thought it was so amazing last year they stole the pumpkin!)
This is my pumpkin from Halloween 2009

What you will need:

  • A medium sized pumpkin
  • A Tee-light
  • Printer and paper
  • A tablespoon or pumpkin scoop
  • A small nail, push pin or a pumpkin poker
  • Tape
  • Flour
  • Serrated knife or craft knife
First you need to prepare your pumpkin by cutting a hole in the top to make a lid. When doing this make sure you angle the knife inwards so your lid sits on top of the pumpkin and doesn't just fall through! Once you have made a lid you will need to scoop out the seeds and strings using the spoon. Scrap some of the flesh from the inside of the pumpkin until it's about an inch thick all the way around (or just where you are going to carve!)

Cat carving pattern
Choose a pattern which you want to carve onto your pumpkin. The Internet is full of templates if your search; I have included a few which I like carving! You will need to save and print out the pattern you wish to carve. Once you have done this trim off the excess paper and tape it onto your pumpkin. If your pumpkin is quite lumpy you can dip the paper into vegetable oil (but this can make the project quite slippery!) You can also make small cuts into the paper where it bunches so it lies flat onto the pumpkin.
Jack O'Lantern carving pattern
Once you have attached your pattern to your pumpkin you will need to poke holes through the pattern with a nail, push pin or pumpkin poker. Make the holes about a cm apart. This step can take quite a while depending on the pattern you choose, so be patient! Place the pumpkin on your lap and work away at it; the end result will be well worth it! Once you have copied the pattern onto the pumpkin you can remove the paper. You can rub flour all over the  area where you poked the holes. This will make it easier to see them when you come to carve.
Next you need to push a nail through the pumpkin skin where you want to start carving. Turn and push until it's all the way into the pumpkin, then remove. Repeat anywhere you're going to need to start carving (eyes, nose and mouth) You want to do all the pushing before you start carving as the pumpkin is stronger at this point. Once you start carving the pumpkin it becomes weaker and applying pressure may cause it to break.
Pumpkin face carving pattern
Using your nail hole as a starting point, cut the design with your serrated knife. Start somewhere in the centre of the design to avoid putting too much pressure on areas already carved. Using a sawing motion cut out your design, using very light pressure; take your time and allow the sawing to do the work rather than applying pressure and forcing it. When making curves, just slightly turn the knife. When making sharp corners, remove the knife and re-insert it at an angle.
To remove pieces, push them out from the inside. For larger pieces, you may want to cut them into smaller bits and remove them in sections. Wipe over your pumpkin using a damp cloth to remove any remaining flour or oil.
Once your pumpkin is all carved, use a Tee-light or pumpkin light to light it up. Light the candle and place it on a piece of tinfoil inside the pumpkin. Put the lid on and let it sit for a minute. Remove the lid and there should be a smoke mark on it. You will need to cut a vent in the lid where the smoke mark shows.
I hope you enjoy carving your pumpkins as much as I do!
Keep checking back to see my pumpkin this year!
If you carve a pumpkin this year; please e-mail me your pictures and I will feature them in a special Halloween pumpkin post!