Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Halloween Pumpkin Carving

I spent the weekend moving! Yes, again. I know. It was humid and rainy as we moved my things into my new place, but I’m happy and settling in nicely. While I was lugging boxes up and down stairs, my family was carving pumpkins. My family lives in a different state than I do, so they weren’t able to help with the heavy lifting, but my mom did offer to write a guest post about her pumpkin carving experience. Enjoy that while I continue unpacking and preparing for NaNoWriMo. I can’t believe November starts on Sunday!

Pumpkin carving at Halloween has long been a tradition in our family. When our children were little, we carved out faces using simple geometric shapes. The kids would draw the shapes and we would carve them out. As the kids grew, pumpkin carving became a serious art in our house.

Before you begin, read the brief history of the Jack-o-lantern

here. For smaller children or to get in the mood for carving, try this fun site which allows you to virtually carve a pumpkin. It’s simple and very easy to use. For another, more realistic looking pumpkin carving experience, try this.

Creating jack o’ lanterns online is fun (and mess-free!), but there’s nothing like actually carving your own pumpkin. Let’s get started.

First, a few tips:

1) You don’t have to open the pumpkin at the top. Here is a great example of a pumpkin that uses the stem as part of the jack o' lantern.

2) Never use a jackknife or other folding knife. Pumpkin skin is tough and folding knives are likely to collapse on your hand. This one I learned the hard way. Ouch.

3) If a piece of your pumpkin breaks off, you can reattach it with a toothpick.

4) When you open your pumpkin, carve the sides at an angle so the opening section won't fall in when you put it back on.
Picking out the perfect pumpkin is the foundation of this project. Pumpkins come in many sizes and shapes. For some people, the perfect pumpkin will be round with a nice long stem. For others, it will be tall and skinny or short and fat. To me the perfect pumpkin is one that is oddly shaped or has unusual textures that can be incorporated into the carving. This year I have also purchased a squash that I think could make an interesting carving:
The next step is to decide what you will carve. You can use a pattern that someone else has drawn or you can draw your own. It is now possible to purchase many patterns you can trace and carve, although I don’t think this is as much fun as making your own design. For beginners, the simplest patterns are best. There are many websites dedicated to pumpkin carving which teach all the techniques. I like
this one which starts with a lot of free simple patterns and has a long list of instructions for all types and techniques of carving.
Once you have created your pattern, draw it onto your pumpkin. It’s easier to carve the pumpkin when you can just follow the lines you’ve already drawn. Young children can draw their patterns onto their pumpkins and then ask an adult to carve for them.

The images above show all the steps my daughter (Jessica's sister) took when carving her pumpkin. And here it is lit with a candle:
It came out pretty well. All the jack o’ lanterns came out well this year, as you can see below.
Enjoy carving jack o’ lanterns and have a safe and fun Halloween!

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staging professionals Toronto said...

Hi. Very informative post. In our family it is very similar with pumpkin carving. Like you wrote, we began this tradition when kids were small. Firstly, the shapes were very simple but from year to year it has improved. Nowadays we're looking forward to carving long before Halloween. The whole process starts with buying right pumpkins. This year we've already started but few pumpkins are still not carved. And I can say that it's big fun.

Happy Halloween,

Louise said...

Hi Jessica,

I just want to thank you for your wonderful, informative and inspirational blog- I have a creative blogger award for you at http://artunderthefigtree.blogspot.com/2009/10/creative-blogger-award.html



PeterParis said...

Nice to see that Halloween Carving can be real art and involve nice family activities!

Hope you are now more or less installed at your new place and feel happy and comfortable!

PeterParis said...

Jessica, where art thou? Miss you!