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Pumpkin Carving Made Easy

Filed Under: Holidays, Crafts & Celebrations

Halloween is in the air and that means it's time to break out those classic pumpkins. Follow this easy pumpkin carving guide to create a spooktastic jack-o'-lantern!

Enjoy the glow of your carved Halloween pumpkin! Photo: Indigoprime, Flick

Nothing says Halloween like the glow of your very own carved jack-o'-lantern. Once you've gathered your pumpkin carving tools and templates, you're well on your way to creating your masterpiece. Here's a step-by-step guide to carving a pumpkin fit to spook the entire neighborhood.

1. Cut an opening in your pumpkin.
Instead of carving a hole around the top stem, opt to cut one on the bottom of your pumpkin. This way the pumpkin is set over a candle sitting on a flat surface, instead of the curvy bottom of the pumpkin. Doing this will make it easier to light and replace candles, as well as hide the cords for electric lights. To cut the opening, push your pumpkin down on a large cookie cutter. It will create an impression in the pumpkin. Carve along the line with your carving saw.

Photo: Metavida, Flickr

2. Gut the pumpkin.
Use a flat-edged ice cream spade, melon baller, or even your hands to remove the pumpkin's strings and seeds. Use a damp towel to clean off any pumpkin guts that spilled over on the pumpkin's outer shell. Save the seeds for a tasty treat later.

Photo: Indigoprime, Flick

3. Tape your template and poke around the lines.
Drawing your template directly onto the pumpkin with a marker will most likely result in smudge lines, so it's best to use a paper pattern to map out your pumpkin face. Choose the flattest side of your pumpkin to tape on the template. Then use a sharp pumpkin carving tool such as an awl, needle tool or T-pin to poke around the lines of your template.

Photo: Indigoprime, Flickr

Carve the dots.
Remove your paper template and use a carving saw to cut along the poked holes.

5. Make a smoke hole.
If you're using candles and not electric lights, you'll need to add a hole on the top of the pumpkin for smoke to escape. This will serve as a chimney so that heat and smoke don't get trapped inside the pumpkin. First, place your pumpkin over a lit candle. After a few minutes, remove the pumpkin. You'll notice a blackened area visible on the inside of the pumpkin. This area is where you should carve a chimney hole.

6. Light your pumpkin.
Use a votive candle inside a glass candle holder to illuminate your carved pumpkin. This will make the candle less likely to tip over. You can also place small flashlights, or battery-operated light sources inside your pumpkin.

Photo: John-Morgan, Flickr

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