As most of you know, Halloween is the MOST important holiday, and I’m always on the lookout for fresh decorating ideas. Easy Pumpkin Carving: Spooktacular Patterns, Tips and Ideas by Colleen Dorsey offers a great starting point for those new to the art of pumpkin carving, along with plenty of fun tips and facts.
The author has managed to pack this slim manual with tons of useful information. Beginning with an overview of the available varieties of pumpkins and gourds and how to choose the best pumpkin for the job, the book also delves into the types of carving tools available and the other items a pumpkin carver might need.
We are walked step-by-step through cutting, attaching and transfering a pattern, as well as cleaning out the pumpkin. There are lists of helpful carving tips. One cool new thing I learned is that rubbing petroleum jelly on your carved pumkin can help preserve it. Different techniques such as creating luminaries, using multiple pumpkins and etching are explained. There’s even a section on embellishing your project with paint and other supplies for those who aren’t as interested in carving.
The pattern section features everything from sugar skulls to black cats to witches. The patterns are simple enough for anyone to complete. Each pattern offers advice on the type of pumpkin to use, along with an interesting fact about the subject matter.
Each page is adorned with crisp, colorful photos that should help get your spooky, creative juices flowing!
Easy Pumpkin Carving: Spooktacular Patterns, Tips and Ideas is available from Fox Chapel Publishing. Below is an excerpt for your enjoyment!
Traditional Pumpkin Carving Techniques
By Colleen Dorsey
Here they are, the very essentials of pumpkin carving! By following these steps that you probably had down pay when you were a kid, you can get carving with any traditional pumpkin carving pattern. You’ll need a little elbow grease and a tolerance for mess to use this technique, but it’s totally worth it.
Pre-Carving Pumpkin Prep
1.Clean the Pumpkin
Prep the pumpkin first by rinsing it in cold water and using a scrub brush to remove dirt. If you want, you can spray the entire pumpkin with a mild bleach and water solution to kill mold and bacteria.
2.Cut out the Lid
Use a sturdy knife to slowly and carefully carve out and remove the lid of the pumpkin, going in at an angle rather than straight down in. Alternatively, you can cut a hole in the bottom of the pumpkin, which will mean you can sit your pumpkin on top of a light rather than placing a light inside the pumpkin.
3.Clean Out the Guts
Use a scoop to completely empty the inside of the pumpkin of flesh and seeds. Keep scraping away at the inner walls of the pumpkin until you only have about a 1” (2.5cm) thick pumpkin wall that is nice and smooth.
4.Attach the Pattern
Transfer the pattern using your desired method. Check out Easy Pumpkin Carving for tons of patterns to choose from.
- Actually carving your pumpkin is simple enough. Here are some tips to make carving easy and effective:
- Saw steadily with a continuous up and down motion, and don’t press too hard or try to go too fast.
- When you’re finished cutting out a standalone piece (like an eye), pop it out of the pumpkin wall with your finger, not your carving tool.
- To cut clean, sharp corners, remove and reinsert the carving tool.
- Carve starting from the inside of the design and working your way outward.
- Resist the urge to put your free hand inside the pumpkin while carving. Only do so if you can clearly see where all of your hand is.
- If you accidentally break off a part of your carving as you work, such as a protruding tooth, stick it back on with a toothpick!
Preserve Your Pumpkin!
Keep your carved pumpkin cool and out of the direct sunlight (you can even put it in the fridge). You can also coat the interior and all cut edges with petroleum jelly to help lock in the pumpkin’s natural moisture, or purchase special preservative sprays for pumpkins.