Jack o’ Lantern carving tips for students

Halloween is the ideal time to carve pumpkins or jack o’ lanterns. It’s a fun holiday tradition for all, but it can be tricky to get started and to carve the perfect pumpkin. Carving pumpkins takes time and effort, and it may even seem impossible. With Halloween fast approaching, it’s time to start carving pumpkins, so here are a few tips and tricks that will help you.

Instead of emptying the pumpkin from the top, empty from the bottom of the back side. This protects the internal structure of the pumpkin and the pumpkin also dries out more slowly.

Another reason not to empty from the top is that the pumpkin is more likely to cave in when cut from the stem area. Emptying from the bottom allows for more space to reach into the pumpkin to empty the seeds and pulp. Once the pumpkin is emptied from the bottom, it is easier to place a light inside the pumpkin and easier to remove the light once Halloween is over.

Make sure to have stencils of what you want to carve onto the pumpkin. Whether the stencils come in a store-bought pack, are printed out from online or hand-drawn, it is helpful to have a plan of what you are going to carve. For a simple design, you can pin the stencil onto the pumpkin. For a more complex design, draw on the pumpkin with a permanent marker, so that you know where you are carving the pumpkin.

Senior Chelsea Sosa prefers carving to painting pumpkins, “because it takes longer and is more fun and you can do it with a group of people.”

Wear gloves when cleaning and carving the pumpkin. The gloves will keep your hands clean when removing pulp and seeds from the pumpkin, and will protect your hands from cuts that may occur when carving.

Use carving saws when working with the pumpkin. According to New York Magazine, they are easier to use than a regular knife. The Pumpkin Masters Carving Kit comes with all the tools you need. When you carve into the pumpkin you want to move up and down rather than from side to side, so that the pumpkin pieces will pop out more easily when you press from the inside.

“Use printmaking cutting tools to shave off the top layer of the pumpkin for an artistic look,” senior Tara Hall suggested.

Paint the pumpkin instead of carving for a quicker craft that makes less of a mess. Without carving, the pumpkin will last longer. According to NPR, it usually takes around 8-12 weeks for a pumpkin to start to rot without being cut into.

“This year I painted a pumpkin,” junior Rebecca Shenhouse revealed. “I’ve carved in the past but I feel that carving is a bit harder.”

Since painting the pumpkin does not require a knife, you will not cut yourself in the process of painting the pumpkin. Painting is just as fun, though! You could paint a traditional jack o’ lantern face in bright colors, or a spooky Halloween character like a monster or a spider. Be creative with painting just as much as you would with carving.

“I prefer painting,” shared junior Caroline Gore. “It is easier than carving and I used to do it as a little kid.”

Display the pumpkin with an electric or battery-powered light, not a candle. HGTV recommends using color-changing lights for a new multicolored look. Candles dry out pumpkins faster so using battery-powered lights will prevent this. Battery-powered lights also mean that fires are less likely, and you are less likely to burn yourself while taking out the candle.