Tips For Carving Your Jack-o-Lantern
Every year Halloween brings out some of the most creative and unique decorations out in the world. Often made up of everyday household items, we always find it interesting to see how people apply things we use everyday into another purpose completely outside the box. This principle has had a interesting effect on the most recognized symbol of Halloween -- the family jack o’lantern. This iconic decoration has become the staple of the Halloween season; and the pastime of carving them has transcended everyday arts and crafts into an all out art piece capable of the same shock and awe garnered from other more well known art mediums.
But the goal today is to educate you and your family on some secret tips that will make your family’s jack o’lantern the talk of the neighborhood.
The first major step comes in selection of your family’s pumpkin. An ideal pumpkin for carving has thick walls, the thicker – the easier it is to carve. To ensure your pumpkin has thick walls, check the stem. An ideal pumpkin will have a distinct, thick stem. The general thickness of the stem indicates the thickness of the walls, while you can use it’s color to determine how hard the walls of the pumpkin will be. A green stem means the pumpkin is fresh and will likely give you the most use before rotting. Try to go for these first, as they will give you the easiest time carving as well as significant longevity. In addition to stem size, check for blemishes and soft spots just as you would any vegetable you would buy. It is also important to note that a misshapen pumpkin is not a death sentence. Often some of the most creative pumpkins come from ones not the perfect shape, so embrace what you find. Just make sure that stem is in order!
Timing is very important in carving jack o’lanterns. You can expect it to last anywhere from a few days to a little over a week, so plan accordingly for when you want it to be displayed. Also, once you begin carving, it is recommended you continue the carving until it’s finished. As soon as you make the first cut, the pumpkin begins to decompose, leaving the project and coming back will cause you to deal with trying to carve a softer, weaker pumpkin wall; which could lead to accidental damages. To be safe, complete the carving when the walls are as strong as they possibly can be to minimize accidental damages. To further prevent accidents, plan out your pumpkin design completely, even draw it one the pumpkin with a pen or marker, this will keep you carving in line, and will prevent you from losing your place or making wrong cuts. Using a spray bottle of water and spraying the pumpkin wall while you’re carving will also ease in the carving process.
Some things to keep in mind while carving include keeping an open mind about what tools you use to carve. You can purchase pumpkin carving kits, but often you can find versions of these tools at home, in addition to finding other items that could offer you more detailed line work (paring knives, lemon zesters.) The real tricks to professional pumpkin carving come in the treatments of the pumpkin whilst carving. The first major rule is to never cut the top of your pumpkin. Cutting a hole in the top of your pumpkin cuts the pumpkin off from its lifeline – the stem. The stem provides the whole pumpkin with nutrients that will keep it thriving a few days longer. The same goes for the bottom; cutting the bottom will allow all the moisture in the pumpkin to run out where you cut it. Not only will this drain the pumpkin of moisture, but it will also make quite the mess!! The best place to put a hole is in the back of the pumpkin. The water loss will be minimal, it retains its lifeline to the stem, and the hole is still not visible to everyone. Another common misconception is the use of fire to light a pumpkin. The fire actually cooks the inside of the pumpkin, drying it out faster and ultimately cutting its lifespan. The best alternative is an LED or CFL bulb, which will produce a large amount of light, but hardly any heat. In general, you will want to keep your pumpkin cool. It slows the decomposition process and will give you a few extra days out of your jack o’lantern. In fact, if you can refrigerate your jack o’lantern at night, it would be ideal.
Now you’ve got all the tips to produce the best jack o’lantern out there! We’re looking forward to seeing what spooky creations you can come up with!