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Pumpkin Carving Hints and Tips

Posted on 2nd June 2013
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Before you can create your masterpiece, you need to Pick the Right Pumpkin.

Pumpkin carving is an age old tradition enjoyed by young and old alike. Whether you want a simple pumpkin carving to sit on your own doorstep or you are planning a pumpkin carving party, selecting the right pumpkin is a vital part of the overall process.

As an overarching principle, the pumpkin you select will be picked according to what you intend to carve on it
You will have seen in the shops and markets that pumpkins range from tiny to huge and all have a place in the rituals of Halloween. The largest pumpkins make fantastic centrepieces and can take the largest carved designs and probably the most elaborate as well. The small examples are used to demonstrate fine pumpkin carving techniques and these artistic examples are usually given pride of place in any display. For the vast majority of stencil designs that you will either make or buy, medium sized pumpkins are ideal.It's a good idea that before you make your trip to buy your pumpkin you make a mental note of the size of the stencil(s) that you will be using and that you select pumpkins using this mental image. Look for pumpkins that are uniformly orange which indicates that they are ripe and for those without bruising or other signs of damage. Any damage will adversely affect the life of the carved pumpkin.

When moving pumpkins, they should be lifted from the base and never by the stem. Care should be taken to transport and store your pumpkins carefully to avoid damage and bruising which will shorten the life the fruit. Okay, now you've found the perfect pumpkin lets look at a few tips on How to Carve your Halloween Pumpkin

Here are some basic pumpkin carving tips and techniques for you to adopt and they should hopefully help you carve the perfect Halloween Pumpkin;
  • Pumpkin carving can be a messy job and you should cover your work area with old newspapers or cardboard
  • Lots of debris will be produced so a container to put this in as it's produced will save on clean-up time at the end
  • Determine whether you will be cutting from the top or the bottom of the pumpkin. This will usually depend on whether you are using a battery powered light source or a candle. If using a candle, then cutting from the top creates a great venting point for the heat produced. If using a battery, then cutting from the bottom will allow easier access to that.
  • If your stencil doesn't identify how large a hole to cut, cut a hole around 6" diameter for access as this will allow you to get a scraper and scoop into the pumpkin
  • If you are intending to draw directly onto the pumpkin, do not use permanent marker - it will not wash off and don't use a hard tipped pen or pencil as these will mark and bruise the pumpkin's skin. Use a crayon or washable marker
  • The first cut into the pumpkin should be for the access hole. This should be cut with the blade at an angle of 45 degrees so that it can sit back on when the pumpkin is complete
  • The front of the pumpkin should be the side with the smoothest feel as this will be easiest to carve
  • Once the lid (or base) has been cut, remove all of the seeds and stringy fibrous material from inside and discard
  • Scoop the inside of the pumpkin so the side to be carved is about 1" thick. This will make the effort of carving easier
  • If using a stencil, cut it out roughly and stick it to the side of the pumpkin to be carved
  • Transfer the design of the parts of the pumpkin to be removed using a small toothpick or pumpkin pricker which you can get as part of a set of pumpkin carving tools available cheaply on-line or at supermarkets around Halloween
  • Using a combination of a pumpkin saw and other knives and blades remove and create the pumpkin carving according to the design either pricked out or drawn onto the pumpkin
  • If you remove a part by mistake it can often be rejoined using a toothpick
  • When your carving is complete, smear the cut edges with petroleum jelly to prevent it drying out
  • If you are carving in advance, keep the completed pumpkin in a cool dark place
  • If your pumpkin does dry out, plunge it in a bath of cold water to revive it and then seal the cut edges as described above.
Happy carving……
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