. . . .for beginners.
For a few days this October it will be perfectly acceptable to stand a craved pumpkin out on your doorstep, actually, not only acceptable but the pumpkin will become reflective of your creativity, for all the world to see. Or maybe you are planning a Halloween party which means pumpkins become part of the decoration and the pumpkins will appear in pairs. Never fear here is our must have guide to craving out pumpkins ( known Jack O Laterns in America) you can be proud of:
Picking The Perfect Pumpkin
I like to support farmers markets and buy my fruit and veg from there but wherever you decide to buy your pumpkin look for one that is large, ripe (as in soft) and has even surface. Look for one that has at least a 2 inch stem as this will show that the pumpkin is not bruised or dented. Keep in mind the height of the candle you plan to put inside the pumpkin and allow for this when it comes to height.
Make A Pattern
To design your own lantern pattern maybe take inspiration from your pumpkin shape? Maybe it’s too round for a long face? Maybe it’s looking more feminine that masculine (well, it’s possible!). Think about the mood, especially if you are planning a party, will it be scary, artistic, funny? Plan your template on to a piece of paper with a pencil, this gives you the opportunity to make any changes. The less creative of you can scour the Internet (particularly Pinterest) for some ready made templates.
Cut Out The Top
To make the lid draw a circle at least 5 inches inside the diameter and around the pumpkin’s stem. Cut out the lid at an angle to stop it falling inside. When the lid is free scrape it clear of seeds and pulp. Also remember that it doesn’t always have to be the top that is removed, some artistic efforts may mean the bottom or side is removed to accommodate the candle.
Clearing Out The Inside
If you have children in your family get them involved in this part, little kids love removing all the slimy insides with a spoon or ice-cream scoop. Once the insides are removed it’s time to start scraping out because the thinner the wall the easier it will be to carve. Just don’t make the bottom too thin as it needs to support a candle.
Transfer The Pattern
You can attempt to recreate your template on the pumpkin by free hand or you can tape your template directly on to the pumpkin. If you decide to go freehand you can use a water based marker to sketch the design or you can use a cocktail stick or similar to carve the pattern on. Similarly when using a template you will need to score the template on to the pumpkin.
The fun part. Start at the centre of your design and work outwards. Begin with the innermost smallest features, such as eyebrows, and try to carve the inside lines before the outside. Be gentle and as each shape loosen gentle push it out of the pumpkin with a finger or dull pencil point. Larger shapes, such as smiles, may have to be removed in pieces.
If you crave out something you don’t mean to you can do a bit of pumpkin surgery with a tooth pick inside the pumpkin, this should hold together any accidental cuts.
Put a candle inside your pumpkin, light it and put out the lights. If the candle doesn’t stay lit when you have to increase the air supply by enlarging some of the features of carving a vent on the lid.
Remember that left over pumpkin makes yummy soup and I have wonder memories of my mum drying out pumpkin seeds in the oven then us stringing them together with a needle and thread to make wonderful jewellery.
Most of all have fun and take inspiration from our favourite pumpkin finds from Pinterest below.
Love Victoria X