- Pick Your Pattern Select a pattern that you would like to carve. You can buy a pattern book, many come with the carving tools, or use this one. If this is your first time select a pattern that is fairly simple. You can always get fancier with the second pumpkin.
- Pick Your Pumpkin Keep your selected pattern in mind when you shop for your pumpkin. You want to think about the pattern when you select the size of your pumpkin. When selecting your pumpkin, do not select one that has soft spots or browning spots, or dents. Try to get one that stands up straight and small pumpkins will be too difficult to carve.
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- Carving Tools If your pumpkin pattern is a fairly common rectangular design, you can probably use an ordinary kitchen knife. However, with little effort and the right tools fantastic things that can be done with pumpkin carving. I recommend you purchase one of the inexpensive pumpkin carving kits that are sold all over the place during the Halloween season. If you already have a nice assortment of fine saws for woodworking or something, then use them.
- Cut and Clean the Pumpkin Cut the the lid first, a hexagonal cut rather than circular cut helps keep the lid from falling into the pumpkin as the pumpkin lid begins to dry out and shrink. Always draw the shape of your lid very lightly with a water based marker (so you can wash it off later). Begin cutting the lid at a slight angle with the saw or knife handle titled slightly toward you as you are cutting to help prevent the lid from falling in. Cut a piece out of the lid as a chimney if you are planning to use a candle. Once the top has been cut off you can begin cleaning out the pumkin with a large metal spoon or one of the scaping tools supplied with the carving kits. Clean the pumpkin until the wall thickness is about 1" all the way around.
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- Apply and Mark the Pattern Check the pattern size against the your pumpkin. If it seems too large or small, try reducing it on a photocopier. Once you have the correct size for the pattern, trim away all of the excess paper leaving about a 1" border on the paper. Once the pattern fits, tape the pattern to the pumpkin using any tape. Be sure the pattern is flush against the surface of the pumpkin and you don't have any creases. Next take a pointed object such as a pen, poker, tip of a knife, or even a drill bit and begin to poke holes along the lines of your pattern, spacing them about a 1/4" to 1/2" apart depending on the number of curves in your pattern. Once you have completed punching the holes as guides for the pattern you may pull the pattern off the pumpkin.
- Carving the Pumpkin To begin carving your pumpkin, just follow the pattern of dots that you layed out your pattern. Begin in the middle of the design and work your way out. This will allow you to maintain the best strength possible in the walls of the pumpkin at all times to avoid breaks. It is generally easiest to sit in a straight backed chair and hold the pumpkin face up in your lap while you work. To do the actual cutting VERY CAREFULLY and slowly connect the dots in short up and down strokes being careful not to pull the saw or knife too far out or put it too far in. If you take your time, generally about a half an hour to 1 hour per pumpkin, you will end up with a fine looking pumpkin in really no time at all.
- Insert the Candle Carve out a area in the base of the pumpkin to insert the candle. Use a votive size candle. You might want to use some aluminum foil underneath the candle as added protection. Always use caution and do not leave lit pumpkins unattended or easily accessable to children. An alternative is to use a small flashlight. Be Safe and have a happy halloween!
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