Halloween is full of traditions, so many in fact that different families and groups enjoy that you may not always have time each year for it all! Pumpkin carving, and once it’s lit up a jack-o’-lantern, is full of rich history that has morphed over time to become what we enjoy today.
To carve your own pumpkin, you will first need a set of tools.
What You Need:
- Sketch, or Stencil
- Clear Tape
- Large-toothed Saw or Keyhole Saw
- Pumpkin Scoop or Scraper
- Small-toothed Saw or Tracer
- Poker (or in our case, a Thumbtack)
To make things easier, you can buy a pumpkin carving kit that includes all the necessary tools.
Steps to Carve Your Pumpkin:
- Use the large-toothed saw to cut the top (or bottom) of the pumpkin. Cut at an angle, around a 45 degree, in a circle so you can pop the end off.
- Clean out the pumpkin. Use the scoop/scraper on the sides of the pumpkin, going top to bottom, to shave the insides off of the pumpkin. Turn over your pumpkin to let the insides fall out easily. Continue to scrape the sides until all the insides are loose and removed.
- Take your sketch and tape it to your pumpkin, where you wish it to be. Your sketch may bunch up, and that is okay. Crease the sketch where needed to keep the pattern close to the intended shape. Remember, this is a guide, not the final design.
- Take your poker and start poking holes in the pumpkin, following the lines on your sketch. This makes carving easier than cutting through the paper. For finer details, have the dots closer together. Make guide holes, such as at the top and bottom, in case your sketch needs to be re-aligned.
- Peel off your sketch and tape from the pumpkin.
- Before you begin carving, check if your sketch shows which places are best to carve first. Carving should start with the smallest and most center areas to not compromise the pumpkin as you carve.
- Use your small-toothed saw to begin carving your pumpkin, following along with the dots you have poked. For larger sections, you can handle it in pieces instead of the whole shape, making removal much easier. Remember, the more you have scraped the inside while scooping out the insides, the easier it will be to cut through the pumpkin wall.
- Clean up the pumpkin and don’t worry about minor mistakes, you can always adjust them. If a larger piece comes off, a toothpick can be used to help hold your piece back in place.
- Put in your light source of choosing for a beautiful glow when night approaches.
“History of the Jack-O’-Lantern”
Why we carve pumpkins begins back in European folklore. As legend has it, a devious man named Jack met the devil and shared a drink one night. Too cheap to pay for his share of the drinks, Jack convinced the devil to morph into a coin to pay for Jack’s drinks, but he swiftly put the coin in his pocket next to a silver cross instead. Unable to change back, the devil was trapped until he agreed not to take Jack’s soul.
Not too long after, Jack passed away. After ascending to Heaven, God would not accept Jack, and down below the devil kept his promise and wouldn’t let Jack in either. Instead, Jack was thrown into the dark night to roam the world for eternity, with only a coal to light his way, which he placed into a hollowed-out turnip to carry.
Jack of the lantern eventually because jack-o’-lantern and in America, the native pumpkins were used instead as they gave off a golden light, were easier to carve, and had less of the skull-white turnip appearance.
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