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Halloween FX
Pumpkin Carving Tips

On their own, Pumpkins are fat bursts of color announcing the arrival of Fall, but what they really live for is to become jack-o'-lanterns, the illuminated personalities of Halloween. Traditionally carved with gruesome or goofy faces to ward off evil spirits (and to greet trick-or-treaters), pumpkins pose an annual challenge to the jack-o'-lantern artist looking for the best visage of his or her career. So why work with the same old kitchen knife year after year when a visit to an art-supply,(Michaels') hardware,(Home Depot) or housewares (Crate and Barrel) store can open up a vast array of new tools?   

Looking for FREE Jack-O-Lantern patterns to print out? Then look no further than the Google Pumpkin Carving listing. Tons of helpful hints on carving the coolest pumpkins on your block!!

* Keyhole saw - Serrated edges are best for a pumpkin's hard shell; this type of small saw's thin, flexible blade makes cutting alot easier than an old, dull kitchen knife. Used to make large openings in the top, back or bottom.


* Scrapers - Tools for scraping and molding, like a large Plaster Scraper or Ice Cream Scraper. Such tools come in several sizes. Used for removing pulp and seeds and also for thinning the pumpkin's inside wall (to allow more light to shine through.)


* Needle tools & pins - come in many sizes.  Used to transfer a design from paper, tape drawing to the shell, and poke holes in the lines of the sketch. If once you remove the paper, and the design is difficult to see, just rub some white flour or corn starch over it, and the design will be much easier to see.


* Miniature saws - thin, sturdy saws make irregular cutting, much easier, such as eyes, mouths, and eyebrows.


* Hole cutters - make your own with short pipes with a sharp end and a capped end to cut perfect holes. Use different diameters for various sized holes.


* Melon baller - Cut half-spherical chunks from the shell of a pumpkin to create circles that glow when light shines through the remaining flesh.


* Cookie cutters - Even common kitchen tools can make uncommon designs in your pumpkins; such as stars, moons, ghosts, cats and so on. Because the shell is tough, you may need to tap a cookie cutter with a small mallet.


* Electric drill - You can use a power drill to make small holes in your pumkin for unusal lighting effects ( see " Lighting your Pumpkin "  below.... )


Store your carved creation in the refrigerator when not on display. Cover it with a good length of plastic cling-wrap. And to revive a shriveled jack-o'-lantern, just simply place it in a sink or large bucket filled with ice-cold water,(add a few ice cubes if you like) making sure it is completely covered, including the lid. Leave it in the ice bath for about 2 hours prior to lighting. Remove, then dry the outside shell of all moisture. Let completely dry upside down for 1/2 hour, then replace light(s) and enjoy a revived masterpiece!!More info below the floating pumpkin!!


~ Lighting your Pumpkin ~

* Tradtional way - Place a short, fat lit candle in the bottom of your pumpkin on a saucer. Wait 1 minute, then remove the top. At the soot mark, drill or cut a small chimney hole to allow the heat and smoke to escape when the top is put back on.
* You can also use electric lights for brighter illumination. Make an opening in the back or bottom of the pumkin. Insert a low wattage (25 watts) bulb, propped up on a cup, or a small, tight bundle of string lights, also propped or pinned up so they don't touch the pumpkin. Cut a small notch out of the back of the pumpkin for the cord. To let heat escape, cut a small chimney hole on the back of the pumpkin, near the top. Electric lights also allow the steadiest glow for scraped details. Thin the inner wall to about 1 inch with a scraping tool, then carve 1/8 to 1/4 inch details on the outside wall, then insert light(s). Waxed paper accomplishes a similar effect without scraping details. Carve designs all the way through like you normally would, and pin waxed paper to the inside wall of the pumpkin.
* Lastly, if you plan on setting a few carved jack-o'-lanterns outside in the elements, you could instead use chemical glow sticks (also known as snap lights, or light sticks) instead. They produce no heat, flame or spark and are totally impervious to the elements, and last an average of 8 to 12 hours each, plus they come in several sizes and colors. A good place to purchase glow sticks online at wholesale prices is Mega

As always, have a Safe and Happy Halloween!

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