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Free Pumpkin Carving Patterns
Halloween Guide and Ideas


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Pumpkin carving tips for carving your Halloween Jack O' Lanterns.
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Halloween Guide and Ideas


Halloween Guide and Ideas




at HalloweenSelecting a Pumpkin Carving Design
There is an awesome selection of pumpkin carving patterns, stencils and ready to use designs available on many sites online, both for free and for purchase. There are literally hundreds of unique designs, with new ones appearing every year.


Selecting Pumpkins for Pumpkin Carving Designs
Selecting the pumpkins you'll carve for your Halloween Jack-O'-Lantern is very important, particularly if you will be using a pumpkin stencil. You'll need to pick pumpkins according to the type of pumpkin pattern you intend to carve on them. Select pumpkins that are uniformly orange meaning that are ripe, have no bruises, cuts or nicks. Be sure to
select a pumpkin that is large enough and as close to the same shape as the pumpkin pattern you're going to carve. It should be as smooth as possible, and free of scratches, dents or gouges.

Tools for Pumpkin Carving Designs
at HalloweenPumpkin carving saws are essential for carving fine, detailed areas, but can be used for the entire Jack-O-Lantern. A pumpkin carving transfer tool is used to transfer the pattern onto the face of the pumpkin. A pair of scissors to cut out the pumpkin carving design. We use several different types and sizes of spoons for removing the seeds, pulp and skin from the inside of the pumpkin. An ice-cream scoop and a large metal ladle work great to scrap the inside of the pumpkin to remove the guts. Utensils like the ones on the right are inexpensive and can be found at most department stores in their kitchen section. We've picked some up at our local dollar store for much less than other stores carry them.

Prepare the Pumpkin for Carving
Inspect the surface of the pumpkin to decide the best side to carve you face. If the outside of the pumpkin is dirty, just wash it off and dry with paper towel. Prepare the pumpkin by cutting out the top hole and gutting the inside. The hole should be large enough to allow you to scoop out the guts by hand and with a large spoon. Generally, the size of the hole should be about two-thirds the diameter of the pumpkin. You'll find that cutting a five or six sided opening will work the best. As you cut out the top hole, angle the knife so that the lid and hole will be somewhat cone shaped. This will help prevent the lid from falling into the hole. Now you can use a large spoon to scrap the inside walls of the pumpkin clean.

Transfer the Pumpkin Carving Design
is great fun and aSelect the paper stencil you want to use and trim the excess paper around it with scissors. Be sure to leave at least a half to quarter inch border for the tape to go on. Attach the stencil to the face of the pumpkin with tape. Top first, then the bottom and lastly the sides.

You may have to crease the stencil to tape the corners, if so, try to make the creases where the pattern will be distorted the least. Using the Transfer Tool, press the pointed tip into and through the design lines on the paper pumpkin stencil spaced about a 1/8 of an inch apart.

Halloween tradition The tip of the Transfer Tool should be pushed in just enough to go through the paper and the outer skin of the pumpkin, not all the way through the pumpkin. It's important that you take your time when transferring the pattern from the stencil. Remember, you're making guide lines that will be cut out of the pumpkin. Before removing the stencil, look it over carefully to make sure that all the lines have been transferred clearly. Once the paper stencil is removed you'll see the outline of the stencils pattern marked on the face of the pumpkin via little dots. Once you remove the stencil be sure to save it in case you need to refer to it while carving.

Cut Out the Pumpkin Carving Design
that should never be forgottenUsing the Carving Saw, push the tip of the saw-blade into a pattern hole and saw through the design lines with short back-and-forth motions. Basically, you're playing "connect the dots". It's important to remember that these are "saws", not knives. The saw is not used in the same way as a knife. You never cut with it, you saw with it.

Take your time and follow the pattern edges carefully. Always align the saw blade to make the cuts straight into the pumpkin. When making sharp corners, remove the saw and re-insert it at the new angle.

Cleaning Up the Pumpkin Carving Design
Its fun to carve a pumpkin intoNext, you need to remove all of the cut-out pieces. To make removal of the pieces easier you can cut them into smaller section while still in the pumpkin. Then carefully push out all of the cut pieces with your finger or an un-sharpened pencil. Once you've removed all of the cut pieces, carefully trim the inside edges of the pumpkin of any excess flesh with the Carving Saw or a small knife. We like to carve the excess off at about a 45 degree angle. This allows more light to come through, showing your design to it's fullest. Remove any cut pieces that have fallen inside the pumpkin from your carving. Coat the edges with petroleum jelly.

Finished Pumpkin Design
a  Jack O' Lantern for HalloweenYour finished pumpkin should look like the one on the right. The silhouette, in this case a spooky skeleton pirate, should be clearly visible. We place our pumpkin candles in clear glass candle holders so that they last longer and are safer.  Never leave a lit candle, whether inside a pumpkin or not, unsupervised. If you carve your pumpkins on Halloween you shouldn't have a problem with the Jack O' Lantern going bad. To extent the life of your Jack O' Lantern coat the inside and all cut surfaces with petroleum jelly immediately its been carved. This creates a barrier to seal in the pumpkin's moisture to slow down the dehydration of the pumpkin.

Lighting Your Jack O' Lanterns
Make sure that you have scrapped the bottom of the pumpkin flat, so that the candle will sit level inside the pumpkin. We prefer the traditional use of candles to illuminate our Jack-O'-Lanterns. A Votive candle, placed inside of a clear glass candle holder like those shown to the right are safer and will actually last longer because the wax cannot drip away. Also, plain white candles give off the most light and will illuminate the inside of your Jack-O'-Lantern the best. While not as bright, battery powered lights are an alternative to lighting your Jack-O-Lanterns, particularly in cases where a lit candle might not be safe. You'll find these a tea-light style battery powered candles at most drug stores and mass retailers during the Halloween season.

Photographing Your Jack O' Lanterns
The light used to illuminate the outside of the pumpkin and that of the candles inside is actually a very delicate balance. Ideally, you will want to capture the glow of the candles from within the pumpkin, but still be able to see the carved outside of the pumpkin it's self. If you use a flash, you'll over light the surface of the pumpkin and drown out the light from the candles inside. First off, turn the flash on your camera off, you don't want it. To help avoid the light inside the pumpkin from being to faint, we use two or even three candles.

The best technique is to take your pictures around dusk, before it becomes totally dark. Be sure to use a fast film, ISO 400 or faster is best. Wait until dark, illuminate the outside of the pumpkin with in-direct artificial light, i.e. a lamp and light the candle inside the pumpkin. For more information on pumpkin carving and Jack O' Lanterns visit Pumpkin Carving 101



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