Getting the pumpkin ready for carving
Time to get down and dirty!

Setting up the work area

Carving pumpkins is a messy project but making a mess has never been so much fun!  Whether you carve your pumpkins at the kitchen table or outside on the patio you probably will want to lay down several newspapers to aid with the cleanup when the carving is complete.  I usually carve quite a few pumpkins so I use an old towel or large baking pan, which I can shake out in the trash, can and wash when my carving is complete.  The cleanup isnít quite as easy as just throwing away the newspapers but I usually carve so many pumpkins itís just easier for me this way.

Cutting a lid

Cutting the lid on a pumpkinOk, now that the work area is setup it is time to get down to business.  We need to clean the inside of the pumpkin out before we begin carving.  To do this we will need to start off by either cutting a lid into the pumpkin or cutting the bottom out of the pumpkin.  Whether you make a lid or remove the bottom is up to you.

If you decide to create a lid for your pumpkin there are a few key steps that you will need to take.  When cutting the lid angle the knife about 45 degrees inward toward the center of the pumpkin.  This will create a ledge that the pumpkinís lid can sit on.  I usually create an octagon type of design when I cutout my lids, however, if you want to cutout a circle shaped lid that is fine too.  The key thing to remember is that you need create a ledge to keep the lid from falling into the pumpkin.

 Note: When cutting a round lid add a notch to the back of it so that you can easily line up the lid with the pumpkin.

 

Gutting the pumpkin

Gutting a pumpkinOK, now that a lid has been created or the bottom has been removed it is time to cleanout our pumpkin.  Old ice-cream scoopers make great scrapers to clean out the guts of the pumpkin.  You can also use other tools such as a large spoon or even a tuna can.  The goal is to scrape the insides of the pumpkin so that all of the pulp and seeds are removed.

Make sure that you thoroughly clean out the insides of the pumpkin so that there isnít any loose pulp hanging anywhere. The loose pulp can detract from your design and become a potential fire hazard if you are using a candle for light. 

Gutting pumpkins for templates

Now if you are going to create a pumpkin carving from a template, it is important to make sure that the pumpkin wall is about an inch thick where the carving is going to be.  If you find parts of the pumpkin wall that are over an inch thick, simply carve them down to the correct thickness.  Iíll cover why this is important in more detail when we go over the template carving section.

Gutting pumpkins for ďPumpkin SculpturesĒ

You donít always need to gut a pumpkin for a pumpkin sculpture unless your sculpture is going to have holes cut out of it or you want to add a light to it.  There are some pumpkin sculptors out there that never gut their pumpkins.  My personal opinion is that adding a light to the inside of a pumpkin sculpture adds a whole new effect so I always gut mine.

Creating a flat surface for the light

If you decide to create a lid instead of cutting out the bottom of the pumpkin, you will want to scrape the bottom of the pumpkin so that it is flat.  This will allow you to be able to put your light source, whether it is a candle of some other form of artificial light, on a safe and secure surface.

Tying it all together

The first step to pumpkin carving is to setup our work area.  Carving pumpkins is messy so you will want to either lay down a bunch of newspapers or an old towel before you begin.

Once the work area has been setup it is time to create either a lid for the pumpkin or to cutout the bottom of the pumpkin.  A lid or removing the bottom is necessary so that you can gut the pumpkin.  If you do decide to use a lid, cut a small notch in the back of it so that it is easy to put back onto the pumpkin.

When you gut a pumpkin for a template you will want the wall where the carving is going to go to be an inch thick.  If some areas a greater then an inch, simply scrape the inner wall down to the correct thickness. 

As for pumpkin sculptures, whether or not you gut the pumpkin is completely up to you and the design you plan to use. 


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