Pumpkin time
Carving those orange gourds can be easy and fun

by Mark Plouffe
Northern News Services

NNSL (Oct 24/97) - Whether my design is simple or complex, pumpkin-carving is one of those fall jobs that I look forward to every year.

I like to experiment with pumpkins by carving away the skin to allow light to shine through the lighter colored flesh of the pumpkin. The deeper you carve, the more light will shine through.

I also like cutting out whole areas of the pumpkin and raising them up from the surface to highlight particular features. However complex your design is, the idea here is to have fun.

Equipment needed

One pumpkin, an Exacto knife, a sharp knife with a thin blade, a flat tip chisel, a V-tipped chisel, a spoon and a felt tip marker.

Choosing your pumpkin

Choose a pumpkin that's the right size for the shape of the face you want to create and which has a smooth, round surface. Think of how you can incorporate any dents, bumps or green patches into your design.

Carving your pumpkin

  • Wash your pumpkin completely. Draw your design on paper so that you can make changes before you start on the pumpkin

  • Draw the design on the pumpkin using a pencil. Using the V-tipped chisel, go over the outline of the design, just breaking the surface of the skin. This extra step will help guide your knife when you begin to cut out the shapes

  • Using the small chisel, carve away the surface skin of the areas you wish to have brighter (a mask around the eyes, the outline of the mouth to portray lips, etc.)

  • When you've finished surface-cutting, cut a round hole or other shape into the top or bottom of your pumpkin, keeping your knife angled in so that the lid won't fall through. The hole should be big enough to fit your hand through.

  • Remove the seeds and stringy membrane from the pumpkin's inside, scraping the inside with a spoon.

  • You may now begin to cut out the pieces that you will remove to allow the light of the candle to shine through. Hold the knife perpendicular to the pumpkin and push it in. By rocking the knife blade back and forth you'll be able to cut along any curved lines of your design.

  • Remove the pieces you have cut by pushing them from the inside of the pumpkin. You can now cut out the pieces you wish to have raised, such as a mask around the eyes. Raised surfaces will let out more light to accentuate the feature.

  • Finish your face by adding marks to embellish the features of your design. Use the V-shaped chisel to create laugh lines around the mouth, eyebrows, cuts or scars etc.

  • You may use felt-tip markers to outline features, or draw in more detail

  • Now you are finished. Place a lighted candle inside and celebrate your creation.