Pumpkin carving tips

Oct 28, 2016

Group of candle lit Halloween pumpkins in park on fall evening

It’s that time of year again. The stores and farmstands feature a plentiful harvest of pumpkins, in anticipation of Halloween and fall decorating. If your pumpkin carving prowess leaves something to be desired, we have some tips for creating just the jack o’ lantern you want.

Choose carefully.

If you have a particular design in mind, look for a pumpkin that will fit well into your scheme. A gourd with lots of wrinkles will do well for a witch, but a detailed design should have a smoother surface.

Look for a pumpkin without bruises or a moldy stem, because they are already starting to spoil.

Clean the pumpkin.

Every artist knows you need to start with a clean canvas. Wipe it down with a wet cloth and dry the surface before you start your artwork.

Cut the lid.

Insert the knife into the pumpkin at a 45-degree angle. This creates a ledge that gives the lid something to set on, so it doesn’t just slip through the hole. Carve a small notch for the back of the lid, so you know where to place it.

You might also consider cutting off the bottom of the pumpkin. This step makes it easier to replace and light the candle, and could help the pumpkin stay in place.


Using a large metal spoon or ice cream scoop, scrape out all the stuff inside the pumpkin. Skipping this step will cause your pumpkin to rot quickly.

Scrape down the interior wall of the pumpkin until the thickness is about one inch.

Map out your design.

You can draw your design freehand, if you like, or print out a template from the Web. Tape the template to your pumpkin and use push pins or nails to poke holes through the lines on the picture.

Saw through the pumpkin.

With a serrated knife or pumpkin carving knife, cut through the areas you marked for the design, using a sawing motion, back and forth.

Preserve your pumpkin.

Once the carving is complete, you can prolong the life of your pumpkin by soaking it for a few hours in a gallon of water with one teaspoon of bleach added. Remove the pumpkin and thoroughly wipe it dry. Rub the inside and outside of the pumpkin with vegetable oil, which slows down the shriveling process.

Light it safely.

A candle is traditional for lighting a pumpkin, but it creates a fire hazard. Use a battery-powered tealight or string of lights to give your jack o’ lantern that special glow.

Happy Halloween from all of us at Johnson County Siding & Windows.


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