We always took "pumpkin carving" very seriously when I was a kid. It was done with a certain bravado and self as-sureness that only results it a pumpkin face that was the scariest or funniest in all of "Pumpkin-dom"! Well at least I thought it did? Our ideas of pumpkin faces is crude and plain in today's pumpkin carving market. Pumpkin carving is now an "ART"! Me, I still prefer the simple and nostalgic faces of years past instead of the reality and horror of the ones today. My father loved to help with the carving and his imagination was always a welcome addition to the event. He seemed to get what we, as young children, were trying to achieve and was able to captured it with a certain amount of whimsy and humor! Below I have a few tips to help with this necessary part of our Halloween tradition. I honestly believe that laughter is the most important element to any Halloween tradition and bringing family into the mix only creates a more potent potion for FUN! So here's to your family carving their own family tradition this Halloween!
• Draw your design on the pumpkin with a water-based marker beforehand. Mistakes are erased easily with a damp sponge.
• Cut the top and any large areas with a sharp, straight-edged knife. A dull blade is not a safer alternative.
• Serrated metal saws, now widely available in carving kits, are a safer alternative to knives and allow younger children to get in on the action.
• Carve away from yourself; kids should carve only under adult supervision.
• Never hold the knife in a stabbing position.
• When carving, keep a portion of the knife blade in the pumpkin and use slow, steady saw strokes.
• Cut the lid at an angle so the outside diameter is larger than the inside.This prevents the top from falling into the pumpkin when it shrinks.
• Scoop out seeds and stringy flesh with a large spoon or ice cream scooper.
• Carve the facial features closest to the center first and work outward. Cut out the larger features in sections.
• Use an X-Acto knife for details and the tip of a potato peeler to make small circles and curves.
• Remove carved portions by gently pushing them into or out of the pumpkin.
• Reattach a section that is accidentally removed by using a toothpick to pin it back in place.
• Make design holes large enough to provide adequate ventilation for the candle.
• Flatten a spot in the base of the pumpkin for the candle but avoid digging too deep because the pumpkin becomes prone to rot.
• Make sure the flame is not too close to the top of the pumpkin.
• To prolong the life of the jack-o'-lantern, seal in moisture by coating all cut surfaces with petroleum jelly or vegetable oil, or cover it with a damp towel when not on display.
• Consider giving smaller children stickers, tempera paint, or markers to decorate their own pumpkins.