Halloween is my favorite holiday, but pumpkin carving isn't my best skill. I can draw, paint, even sculpt, but perfect pumpkin carving somehow eludes me. So this year, I did my research on Pinterest well in advance to glean these five tips for perfect pumpkin carving.
1. Carve with a drill. Monica at Crafty Nest explains the wisdom of using a drill for pumpkin carving.“Carve” patterns into your pumpkin with the drill and then cut open the pumpkin's top and scoop out the guts. Be sure to drill enough holes to let out plenty of light for your pumpkin's face or design to be seen. Light your pumpkins as you normally would (candles, glow sticks, tealights in a pint glass, etc.). Don't forget to save your seeds for yummy and nutritious roasted pumpkin seeds! You can even save the stringy, pumpkiny goo to make pumpkin gut bread.
2. Use a template. Those fancy schmancy templates you can buy at the store are great, but you can also make your own. Print out one of these free pumpkin carving patterns or draw your own stencil on paper that you can tape to your pumpkin. When making your own stencil, consider whether your the design leaves enough pumpkin for a stable face or design. If you carve away too much, the face or design could break. Use a thumbtack or needle to poke holes through the paper and into the pumpkin along your carve lines. Then you can remove the paper and start carving.
3. Use a miniature saw or a boning knife. Martha Stewart shares how to carve a Zombie Pumpkin. The most important part of this idea is that miniature saw! Way better than the steak knife I usually use for pumpkin carving. If you can't find a mini saw, try a long, thin boning knife. If you want your jack o' lantern to be just like Martha's undead pumpkins, use a pale or white pumpkin and saw out cone-shaped eye holes slightly smaller in diameter than the eyeballs. Then draw a mouth or use Martha's mouth template to carve out the mouth. Scoop the goop out of the eye holes.Then wedge in those googly eyeballs and you're done.
Of course, you can also use this technique with your own design. Use a mini saw to cut out your design, scooping the goop out whatever orifice you choose.
4. Use paint instead of pumpking carving. This technique feels a little like cheating the system, but there are some pretty cute painted pumpkins (like this Hello Kitty pumpkin), so I'll give it a pass. It won't glow in the dark like jack-o-lanterns, but it'll look super fancy on your porch during daylight hours.
5. Try other fruits. Even though pumpkins are traditional, you can try your hand at carving other fruits, too. Try these watermelon ninja turtles or jack-o-lantern oranges. Carving watermelons is pretty similar to pumpkins, except you melon ball out the "guts" and devour those guts immediately. I suppose you could also consider refrigerating the watermelon balls. For oranges, I like to cut off the tops and carve the faces while the oranges are still intact. Then I cut out the fruit from the brain hole at the top. After that, you scrape any remaining orange pulp off the insides and rinse out the orange rinds.
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