BY: Kelsey Williamson (Gainesville, GA)
It’s that time of year again when the leaves turn majestic colors, scarves and sweaters make their first appearances, children find the perfect costume for Halloween, and pumpkin carving becomes the pastime of choice.
Everyone has seen the professionally-carved pumpkins with their intricate designs of city skylines, celebrity faces, or some particularly terrifying countenances, but few people are able to carve these kinds of patterns. There are some tips, however, that can help those of all ages and all experience levels carve pumpkins with more complicated designs or just make the process easier.
When choosing a pumpkin to carve, try to choose one with a healthy stem that isn’t dried out because the pumpkin will last longer. Look for a lighter weight pumpkin without any bruising, mold or defects that has a smooth, firm exterior. This will make creating the design easier.
If you are not planning on carving your masterpiece right away, artists at Maniac Pumpkin Carvers state that it is best to store the gourd below 60 degrees or in the refrigerator if possible. Pumpkins begin to decay or deteriorate about a day after they are displayed, so plan on carving close to the time you plan on exhibiting your art.
Once you decide that it is time to carve, cut the top off at an angle so that the diameter of the top edge is larger than the diameter of the bottom edge of the top. This will prevent the top from falling into the pumpkin once it begins to shrink. After scooping out the seeds and insides, make sure to scrape the inside so that it is clean, smooth and dry.
Maniac Pumpkin Carvers believe that it is best, even for the experts, to have a design or picture to work from so that you have a plan. Then, draw your pattern on your pumpkin with a water-soluble marker or soft pencil so that you can wipe off or erase mistakes.
The tools to use are up to you, but try to cut the smaller details out first. Although it may be easier, if you cut out the large areas first, it can make the pumpkin weak and cause it to break when you try to cut out detail later.
When finished, rub the cut edges with lemon juice that has been diluted with water in order to prevent browning. Wrap the entire pumpkin in cling wrap and keep below 60 degrees again until ready to display.
Photo courtesy of Maniac Pumpkin Carvers