It’s definitely that time of year when pumpkins sporting eerie cut out faces with a glowing candle inside adorn window ledges and porches. It’s a classic Halloween tradition which scares the living daylights out of me – and it’s got nothing to do with the creepy looking faces!
Years ago when I was training to be a florist, one of our first assignments was to carve a pumpkin. As I was away for that lesson, I had to carve the pumpkin at home and bring it in the following week to show the tutor. Unfortunately, I had a mishap almost as soon as I started carving the pumpkin and very nearly sliced off the top of my finger. Several stitches and a bandage later, I decided to stick to carving a honeydew melon which was less tough and easier to handle. I’ve never tried to carve a pumpkin since.
However, I do know that honeydew melons aren’t very Halloween. Furthermore, Hubby grew up in the States where Halloween is celebrated more than it is over here in the UK, so I had to make an effort when it came to the dreaded Jack O’ Lanterns. But we managed to reach a compromise where I would create the design on the front of the pumpkin and Hubby would chisel away at it. He has a much steadier hand then me and so far, thank goodness there have been no accidents.
And I have to say a beautifully carved pumpkin is great to look at. Halloween just isn’t Halloween without them. And people have gotten so much more creative over the years. It’s not just creepy faces that are being cut out of pumpkins but all sorts of designs including trees, leaves, celestial scenes, birds, witches, geometric designs, flowers, cats… the list goes on and on. I’ve even seen Spiderman’s face carved into a pumpkin and for our first Halloween together, Hubby and I craved our favourite band’s logo into a pumpkin.
But for those who are more traditional, they prefer to stick to the creepy face which is a classic design. Despite my story I would still encourage anyone to have a go at carving a pumpkin if they really wish to. Here are some simple dos and don’ts to follow:
Good Carving starts with the right pumpkin, so choose one that is the right size and weight for your with a flat bottom so that it won’t slip.
Do take your time and take great care when using a sharp knife.
Make sure that the pumpkin is being carved on a non-slippery surface.
It helps to have an assistant – especially if you’re working with a massive pumpkin.
Easy carve pumpkins are available where there is less flesh, making it easier for you to get creative.
If you have difficulty drawing free hand, there are templates available in a range of designs making it super easy for you to carve your desired design into the pumpkin.
Children should be supervised at all times.
You don’t have to take off the top, you can also take of the bottom or the back.
The top of the pumpkin is woody and tough. You need a strong blade like a drywall saw for example.
If you are not going to use a template, use dry eraser markers to draw on your designs before you carve them. That way if you don’t like it, you can erase it.
Sprinkle some ground cinnamon into the pumpkin so when the candle is placed inside, it will smell like a pumpkin pie.
MAKING A JACK O’ LANTERN USING A DESIGN TEMPLATE
YOU WILL NEED:
- A small serrated knive
- A large spoon/small spade for scooping out the flesh
- A metal skewer
- Howling Werewolf template
1. Use the large knife to cut a hole in the top that’s just larger than your fist. A hexagon is easier to cut than a circle and works just as well.
2. Scoop out the flesh using the spoon. Reserve to make delicious pumpkin soup or pie!
3. Fix the design template onto the pumpkin using sticky tape, and score around the shape by poking a skewer along lines.
4. Once you’ve scored the whole template, remove from the pumpkin.
5. Carve the design using the small serrated knife.
6. Remove the cut-out pumpkin and neaten the edges.