When do you carve your pumpkins for Halloween? We usually wait until the night before Halloween-just to make sure that they stay nice and fresh. Walmart asked me to try out one of their carving kits so this year I did one of ours a bit early.
(note: We also made some cool pumpkins that will last a nice long time as well-I covered that yesterday in my DIY: Duck Tape Jack ‘o Lanterns yesterday)
We typically do standard “face” style Jack ‘o Lanterns–and by “we” I mean “Yankee Bill” :) Each kiddo takes a piece of paper and designs what they want the face to look like, then Yankee Bill does his best to replicate the designs on the pumpkins. That way each kiddo is participating and has “their” pumpkin, but papa is the only one playing with knives.
This pumpkin was a bit different–not only was I doing the carving, but we were using the patterns inside the Pumpkin Masters Pumpkin Carving kit and book. (There are even more free printable templates on the Pumpkin Masters website) I also picked up a really cool LED Strobe Light that runs on 2 double AA batteries to stick inside.
After covering the table with newspaper I cut open the pumpkin and scooped out the seeds and flesh. Of course I saved the seeds to make roasted pumpkin seeds later, and the rest of the guts went into the compost pile.
I trimmed the pattern and taped it to my pumpkin. You take the little spike-y roller thing and trace over your pattern. That leaves you with an outline on the pumpkin later to cut. Notice that the little strip on the right side of the pattern there gives directions for which sections to cut out first.
I knew carving this out was going to be a bit of a pain-the letters were so skinny & long. I decided to take the tool that looks like a spike and use it to make holes in the pattern everywhere that my blade was going to have to make a sharp turn. I’m not sure if that really helped or not–but that’s what I did. Then I commenced with the sawing. The blades are small and the pumpkin was thick. You do have to be sure not to bend the blades!
Because of the way most folks wind up cutting, the pieces you take out of the pumpkin are shaped like a wedge-they are wider out near you on the rind and narrower on the interior of the pumpkin. With my long skinny pieces that meant I couldn’t pop them into the pumpkin-that would be trying to force the bigger piece through the narrower opening. Instead I had to try to pop them from the inside out. Also I wasn’t going to be able to pop out an entire letter at a time. I carefully cut them into chunks when it was time to cut them out. Then when I got them out I had to go back with the knife and widen the openings on the inside so the light would be able to shine through well. Sigh. Again-this was a challenging, but doable, design.
The entire process probably took me an hour–and that was with interruptions from the kids. When I was done I took it outside to get a nice shot on the porch. I used a candle for the photos–strobe lights don’t photograph well! But don’t worry, on Halloween we’ll be strobing the word “Wicked”.
I’ve got to admit, in the past these patterns intimidated me-they just seemed too complex. But now that I’ve done one it has demystified the process–I’ll probably continue to do one “fancy” one a year!
I like the fact that as long as you are careful with the blades the carving kits are reusable from year to year. The book has plenty of patterns, so you can try a lot of different designs, or you can look for free printable Jack ‘o Lantern patterns online.