One of the most fun Halloween traditions is carving Jack O’ Lanterns. The scary faces and beautiful pictures have become a hugely competitive artistic tradition for many Halloween enthusiasts. The tradition of carving pumpkins goes back all the way to the ancient Celts who would carve gourds and place candles inside to act as lanterns on Samhain, the Celtic New Year feast. Whether you are an expert pumpkin carver or not these tips from experts who have been carving pumpkins for decades will help you create fantastic Jack O’ Lanterns this year.
Don’t Choose the Round Pumpkin – Most people automatically look for pumpkins which are perfectly round for carving. Experts say that’s a mistake. Look for a pumpkin that has an oblong side or is more squat than round. The face of the Jack O’ Lantern will show up much better if the pumpkin is not totally round. So this year you don’t need to spend hours in the pumpkin patch looking for a perfectly round pumpkin.
Practice drawing with water based tools – If you want to draw a pattern on your pumpkin that you can carve out use a water based medium so that you can erase it. Watercolor paint or crayons are the most popular items used for drawing patterns on a pumpkin because they are easy to remove with some water. Once you have the pattern exactly the way you want to carve it you can go over it with permanent marker and wash off the last remnants of the paint or crayon. Many people who carve pumpkins for competitions use crayons to create freehand carving patterns on their pumpkins.
Put your Shop Vac to good use – If you are carving several pumpkins at once you can use a wet/dry Shop Vac to clean out the insides of the pumpkins quickly with almost no mess. This is a great way to clean out pumpkins for kids who can make a huge mess cleaning out the insides of their pumpkins. You can also scrape the insides of the pumpkins with a small can like a tuna can. The sharp sides will scrape the insides of the pumpkin down to a uniform thickness while catching the pumpkin innards and seeds for disposal.
Preserve your pumpkin – Pumpkins don’t last very long after they have been cut. After a pumpkin has been carved it can lose a lot of moisture which can make it shrivel up. To keep your pumpkin from losing too much moisture you can coat it with petroleum jelly after you carve it. This will help your pumpkin look great for the longest possible time. Using LED pumpkin lights instead of candles will also help preserve your pumpkin and make it last longer. Carved pumpkins do better in a chilly environment so put them outside if you live in a cool climate or keep them inside with the air conditioning in if you live in a warm climate.