Follow these tips for carving your pumpkin

Oct. 28, 2012 at 5:28 a.m.
Updated Oct. 29, 2012 at 5:29 a.m.

You can create your pumpkin masterpiece in six easy steps.

You can create your pumpkin masterpiece in six easy steps.

Carving a jack-o'-lantern is one of the best ways to get in the spooky spirit of Halloween.

But not everybody knows how to get the most out of their seasonal pumpkins.

Here are six simple steps to make a unique decoration for all the ghouls and goblins coming to your porch this year.

  1. The first step is the most important: You have to decide what kind of jack-o'-lantern you want. This determines what kind of a pumpkin you're going to buy.

For our jack-o'-lantern, we decided to go with a stenciled outline, so it w is best to pick a medium-sized pumpkin with a flat side for a face. You can easily find free stencils online.

If you want a more traditional jack-o'-lantern, you can find a more rounded one. Pumpkins are available at H-E-B, Wal-Mart or at nearby pumpkin patches.

  1. The next step is to gut the pumpkin. While there are many ways you can carve one, a handy way is to buy a pumpkin carving kit. These are found at most supermarkets.

Always remember to be careful when handling sharp objects such as knives and saws.

  1. Cut a circle around the stem. It's best to start this hole using a sharp paring knife. Then make deeper cuts with a small carving saw that comes in a pumpkin carving kit.

Make sure the hole is large enough to fit your hand in and give you room to work.

Once the top is cut out, start to gut all of the innards out of the pumpkin.

  1. Once that's done, it's time to complete preparing the pumpkin.

Use the scoop that came in the carving kit or a broad metal spoon to carefully scrape the inside of the pumpkin, making sure that no guts are left inside. Be careful not to break through the wall of the pumpkin while you scrape.

At the bottom of the inside of the pumpkin there is a rounded navel that you must level off to make a space for your candle.

  1. After you've gutted and scraped the pumpkin, you are almost ready to start your carving.

Depending on your chosen design, you can either draw on the first outline in magic marker, or pin on a printed stencil.

If you take the stencil approach, you can use either an ice pick or a sharp knife to perforate the edges of the stencil.

It's best to start your cuts by using a sharp paring knife and then follow through with the small carving saw from the carving kit. Be careful not to break the shell.

After carving, carefully push out the carved pieces from inside the pumpkin. Be gentle; you don't want to break the rind after you've come this far.

  1. Once the pieces are out, you can set up your light with either a battery-powered tea light or a candle.

Of course, parents should always supervise their children when working with candles and sharp objects.

By following these instructions, you can easily make a special jack-o'-lantern for a safe and fun Halloween.

Philip Collins is a senior at the University of Houston-Victoria majoring in communications and creative writing.



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