Saturday, October 16, 2010

Pumpkin Time!

Happy Halloween everyone! It's time to start thinking about pumpkin carving. My husband is the carver in our house, and right now we have a great big pumpkin from our local farm stand on the counter waiting to meet its fate.

Want to create some pumpkin magic? Here's how:

Pumpkin Stencil Patterns:
You can free-hand carve a pumpkin old-school style, or you can try using a carving stencil.  They're a little more advanced, but the results are amazing. There are easier and more difficult patterns to try. You can find patterns on line for free, or pay a few dollars for one you can download and print. It is well worth the price when it's just the right design. They are well planned and tested to work and look amazing.

The links below have some free patterns as well as stencils you can buy. Most of these are very sophisticated, and a few might be scary for little kids, so beware!
Zombie Pumpkins
Pumpkin Lady
Spook Master

You can even take a pumpkin quiz to get a free pattern based on your answers from Better Homes & Gardens:
Pumpkin Quiz

Some patterns kids would love can be found here:
Nick, Jr. Patterns
Hershey's Patterns
Kreatures for Kids

Pumpkin Carving Tools:
You do need the right tools to carve a pumpkin really well, especially one with more complicated shapes. You can buy kits or use some household or sculpting tools you can find at craft stores or hardware stores. The links below will get you started:
Williams-Sonoma Kit
Pumpkin Masters Kit
Martha Stuart Kit
This Old House Pumpkin Carving Tool Tips

So what do you do now that you have a stencil & your tools? These sites give you the info you need to carve a pumpkin from a stencil.
Pumpkin How-To Steps
Backyard Gardener Pumpkin Tips
Instructable's Neat-and-East Pumpkin Carving

Light that Pumpkin!:
Finally, lighting! A jack-o'-lantern needs its glow, and today you can buy lots of different kind of lights to give your pumpkin special effects. We still use a good old candle, but it would be fun to try something different. Check out the links below for lighting ideas and important safety tips.
Masterpiece Pumpkins on Lighting
Halloween On-Line Lighting Tips
Halloween 101 Lighting Tips
Pumpkin Masters Lighting Kits

Safety & Pumpkins for Kids:
Speaking of safety, pumpkin carving is not a kid's craft. Even simple carving requires the use of very sharp tools and the pumpkin surface is uneven and slippery. Please use caution!

If you want the kids involved in pumpkin decoration, I recommend a fun alternative of pumpkin painting. Even the youngest kids can do this type of decorating. You can draw a face or design in permanent marker or paint free-hand designs. Make sure your pumpkin is clean and dry and use acrylic paint. You can also glue things to your pumpkin, like yarn for hair or glitter. Just go to your local craft store and use your imagination for things that could bring your pumpkin to life.

Fun Pumpkin Events:
Okay, so maybe you want to get in the Halloween spirit but pumpkin carving is not your thing. There are events going on all over the U.S. Get your spooky fix and check out the art of pumpkin carving at events like these:
Roger Williams Park Zoo Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular  (Providence, RI)
Manchester Vermont Pumpkin Carving Festival
Mashpee Massachusetts 1st Annual Pumpkin Carving Contest
Keene New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival

In the meantime, I'm off to assist in the pumpkin carving clean up! I'll post Matt's masterpiece when it's complete... Happy Halloween, all!

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