Anything goes with today’s Jack O’Lanterns. You can download carving designs off the internet, order tools for carving, take lessons on how to carve, grow your own or pick your own pumpkins, or buy different-sized ones in the supermarket. There are pumpkin growing contests and pumpkin launching and dropping ones, too. A family can choose unique groupings of carved pumpkins or simply create a couple of the classic design for the front porch. If small children are involved then care needs to be taken as pumpkins get slippery — especially their insides!
A simple way to start and then carve a design is to tape your pattern onto the front of a pumpkin then punch through the lines every quarter inch or so. This gives the carver an outline which is visible once the pattern is removed. When a pumpkin is bought, the carver may study it before they begin so that any character points are noticed. And — pumpkins don’t have to be carved upright, either. A stem that looks interesting can always be a witch’s nose, for instance. Remove as much of the pulp beforehand and this may prevent the onset of mold. If the Jack O’Lantern still molds — have a replacement handy.
Accessories can be used on any carved pumpkin and this just depends on what the design is. Some pumpkins are much bigger than a person’s head but if they’re about the sane size then a few pieces of old clothing can do the trick. Thrift stores are also great places to shop for pumpkin accessories. A few people don’t like carving so un-carved but decorated pumpkins are a viable alternative. This is safer for young children, too. Pumpkins vary in color and you may find gourds or pumpkins with greenish areas, or dark orange or very pale orange. Sometimes the pumpkin will have warts and this could be a good one to make a witch from.
There are elaborate pumpkin carving contests on TV and carvers often get inspired after watching these. Even the pros have bad days and their pumpkins could turn out to be real “lemons”! Pumpkins are not usually available other than in the Autumn. If a carver needs to practice then they should purchase several pumpkins in season and then try a design every now and then. Un-carved pumpkins keep for months, although it’s not good to cook them after a long period of time. Be careful if the carved pumpkins (or whole ones) have been around your house for a while. Sometimes they can rot and then you’re left with a pumpkin mess when it’s picked up.
Pumpkin flesh can be used in soups and pies but it is hard to prepare and much easier to buy plain pureed pumpkin at the store. If a carver wants to try something new, the carving should be done outside because there may be an implosion and that gets messy. Practice on an average sized pumpkin first and then design options may be expanded as the pumpkins get bigger. Some of the designs by real artists are so elaborate, that unless a carver can see them being carved, they would never be able to figure out how to recreate the pattern.
Lighting pumpkins is pretty easy and those flameless candles are the best. The kind you can either recharge or plug into an outlet are the most economical, then there are small light bulbs, as well as candles. The latter are safe if the pumpkin is isolated or not near vegetation, cloth or trick or treaters. Ones on fence posts look good, if watched from your window. Don’t be scared — they only come alive in those creepy Halloween movies..