Whether You Call It a Pumpkin, Gourd or Jack-o’-Lantern, Get Ready for Some Imaginative Fun
A cluster of pumpkins on the front steps is a sure sign that fall is here. They’re available everywhere, but most would agree, visiting a farm or open-air market offers a superior pumpkin buying experience. So go forth and harvest, with these pointers in mind.
Find the One: Choose a mature specimen with thick skin; if you can make a cut with your fingernail, leave it behind. Soft spots, cuts and other damages are red flags. For some, a perfectly round shape matters. But maybe you can envision the haunting possibilities of an ugly, asymmetrical “rescue pumpkin!” Just remember that the stem is not a handle, so carry your pumpkin from the bottom.
The Tools for the Job: Especially if you have kids, it’s a sure bet you’ll be pumpkin carving for years to come, so a basic carving kit is standard equipment. Common kitchen utensils will work, but you can’t go wrong with the right tools. (Keep them unreachable for young boys and ghouls.)
Top or Bottom: Traditionally, most carved pumpkins have a “stem hat.” But another option is to cut across the pumpkin’s bottom, creating a flat, sturdy base. Now it’s so much easier to lower the pumpkin over a light source. And what about a third option – making one side the bottom, so the stem becomes a nose?!
Face It: The fun part is drawing your character’s characteristics onto the pumpkin with a felt tip marker. (Youngsters and sharp tools don’t mix, so they love this part!) Draw freehand or use a stencil, keeping shapes big and basic.
Cut It Out: Yes, a small-but-sharp kitchen knife will do, but carving kits include an awl and saw. Use the awl to outline your shapes with holes, making it easier to cut them out. A little saw from the craft or hardware store offers an easy-grip handle and a long blade – perfect.
Let There Be Light: In the evening, pumpkins come to life from the light within! You can use traditional candles, battery-operated tea lights or, if there’s an outlet nearby, wrap a glass jar with tiny string lights that blink, flicker and glow!
Think Outside the Gourd: Why not discover other ways to carve out a Halloween character? Painting is top of mind, but decorating with yarn, old sunglasses, tin foil, colored pipe cleaners, hats, bottle caps, ribbons – even those colorful building bricks – can result in a one-of-a-kind masterpiece.