This Halloween, Downhome is helping you have the best-decorated house on your street. Don't settle for carving a standard jack o'lantern, with the triangles for eyes and a jagged grin - it's been done, people! Instead, we've created great downhome-oriented stencils that you and your family can try out this fall - or carve out your own creative design (see below for downhome-inspired stencils). When your masterpiece is complete (whatever the design), snap a photo and SUBMIT it to us for a chance to appear in a future issue of Downhome. Here are some carving tips to get you off to the right start.
Pick the Right Pumpkin. Decide what design you'd like to carve before shopping for your pumpkin. Depending on the design, you might want a perfectly round pumpkin, or perhaps a tall and narrow gourd would do best. Whatever shape you choose, avoid purchasing a pumpkin that has bruises or other imperfections that might take away from the look of your masterpiece.
Remove the "Lid." Cut on an angle when removing the top from the pumpkin. This way, it will fit back nicely as a lid. Make sure you cut the hole big enough to allow room for scooping out the insides.
Hollow it Out. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and pulp. (If you like, save the seeds and toast them for a tasty snack later on!) Use the spoon to scrape remaining pulp from the inside walls of the pumpkin.
If You're Using Stencils. People who want to create an elaborate pumpkin design tend to use a stencil to guide them. You may draw your own stencil, create one on your computer, or print stencils off of websites (such as ours!) that offer them for free. You may put your stencil to use a couple of different ways. First, you may cut out the stencil, tape it to the pumpkin and use a marker to trace around it. Then, carve out the design. Or, you may tape the complete stencil to the pumpkin and use a nail or other pointy tool to prick the skin of the pumpkin, guided by the stencil. Then, you simply need to connect the dots as you carve. If you've never carved a pumpkin before, start with a simpler stencil with bold lines and shapes. As you become a pumpkin-carving expert, move on to more intricate designs!
Light it Right. Use a small but bright battery-powered light to place inside your pumpkin instead of a candle, which is extremely dangerous.
Keep it Fresh. When your pumpkin is complete, coat cut areas with Vaseline to keep it from dehydrating. If, after a few days, it begins to lose its luster, remove the light and soak the entire pumpkin in water overnight. This should bring it back to life!
Check out these downhome-inspired pumpkin carving stencils. Click thumbnails for printable stencils.