Pumpkin Carving Made Simple
© Frugal Yankee 2011
Legend has it that the first Halloweens did not have pumpkins. Trick or treaters used hallowed out turnips instead of the now ubiquitous orange gourds. And since we seem to be parochially American centric, this was before people began schlepping to this fair land.
When these newly minted illegal aliens landed here, they discovered pumpkins. Those measly turnips didn't stand a chance. They became as passé as last week's gossip. Of course, the simple carvings of the Old World simply won't do in the bigger, better New World. No, the hand crafted carvings have become more elaborate and challenging.
But don't be held back by your neighbor's pumpkin carved to look like the Alien Mother from ALIENS. The fun of pumpkin carving rests not in ornate renderings, but in simple designs and family fun.
The Frugal Yankee has gathered material from around the neighborhood and from around the internet to help you and your family have a ghostly good time this Halloween. The following are some tips and places to check out for ideas.
Let's start off with a couple of very good sites. The first is an excellent source for information on pumpkins and pumpkin carving is eHOW.COM. The site offers printable templates. It makes things quite easy and has everything you need to start off. It even progresses to more exert status.
You can find even more elaborate carving patterns at A great site for families with some terrific free pumpkin carving patterns is DLTK-KIDS.com. They have step by step instructions, nice pictures and lots of other cool stuff. This is a family run site and is perfect for all sorts of projects.
Now, if you're looking for unusual patterns and are willing to possibly pay, check these sites out. They have some great ideas and most have a 'freebie' section.
A really good site with lots of info and ideas especially for that kid in adults.
This site has patterns by themes including everything from traditional to The Simpsons.
Continuing the trend of creative,over the top designs.
After you've made you choice on what you'd like to do, the next step is getting prepared. Here are some basic tools you will need:
Old hack saw blades
A Dremel tool if you got one and want to experiment.
Now it's time to get down to business. Figure on working on the gourd for at least two hours. No sense in being interrupted while you're unleashing those ghoulishly delightful creative juices.
Here are a few tips.
• Lay out paper for the mess.
• Find the 'face' of the pumpkin. This is the side which looks the best. This is where you will carve.
• After removing the 'guts' (seeds and other bits of pumpkin innards) take an ice cream scoop and 'thin' the walls on where you plan on doing the carving.
• Be sure you separate the innards from the seeds, then roast the seeds in your oven for later healthy snacking.
"How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds"
• Pumpkins don't last long. There are some products on the market designed to prolong life, but the experts say they don't work all that well. They may add two days to the life of your creation and that's not really worth the cost. The most accepted, frugal way of extending a pumpkin's life is to wrap it in a wet towel, put it in a plastic bag and the refrigerate it during non-display hours.
• A home remedy attested to by many is to rub petroleum jelly on those parts f the pumpkin that have been cut. It retards decay.
• If you use a pattern, remove any excess paper off the pattern. Then tape the pattern to the pumpkin. Using a poking tool or even a push pins, create carving lines about 1/8 inch apart by slightly stabbing through the design & into the pumpkin's skin. Remove the pattern. Start carving where the pin pricks are. (see the next tip)
• Use the carving saw like a pencil. Saw up and down, connecting the dots you made with the push pins. Gently poke out completed or loose sections.
• When you photograph your creation, turn all light outs except the light being used for light the pumpkin. Use a tripod or your very steady hands.
• Do the carving in advance. That way if your creative desire is more advanced than your expertise, you can always go out, score another pumpkin and try again.
When all is said and done, pumpkin carving is best when shared. Whether it is a joint project with children or the desire to create a masterpiece, display it, photograph it and when it is all over smash it or cook it.
Other FRUGAL YANKEE articles you may enjoy:
13 Frugal Halloween Tips
The Frugal Halloween
DIY Halloween Costumes
By all means please share your comments, ideas or traditions. We love 'em!