Scary Pumpkin Patterns

    CRAFTS CLASSES
    TO INSPIRE CREATIVITY
    by Thomas K. Arnold

    About the Author

    Thomas K. Arnold is publisher and editorial director of "Home Media Magazine" and a regular contributor to "Variety." He is a former editorial writer for U-T San Diego. He also has written for "San Diego Magazine," "USA Today" and the Copley News Service. Arnold attended San Diego State University.

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    This Halloween, don't settle for your standard jack-o-lantern with triangle eyes and a crooked grin. Use a scary pumpkin pattern to create an orange masterpiece, from a witch's silhouette to a terrifying zombie.

    Things You'll Need

    • Pumpkin
    • Pumpkin Carving Kit
    • Patterns (Either Downloaded or From a Book)
    • Pins
    • Scissors
    • Candle
    • Matches

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    Select your pattern. You can browse websites or purchase a pattern book at any drugstore or mass merchant in the weeks leading up to Halloween. If downloading a pattern, you should print it on regular white copy paper. Be sure to recognize your skill set. If you are new to this process, don't try a complicated pattern; settle for something simple, such as a scary pumpkin face or a ghost. Many patterns have difficulty levels indicated on them.

    Prepare your pumpkin. Cut a hole at the top, around the stem, three to four inches in diameter. Gut the insides. You can keep the pumpkin seeds; toss out the gooey insides. Be sure to keep the top, with the stem; cut two rectangular slots on either side of the stem. These holes will provide ventilation when your jack-o-lantern is carved and lit up with a candle inside.

    Trim the pattern page. Cut around the stencil, leaving about an inch as a border. Position it on the pumpkin where you wish to carve. Be careful to not allow too much distortion, as the pumpkin is a sphere and your paper is flat; find the flattest surface of the pumpkin. To make the pattern lie flat, cut slits into the sides.

    Mark an outline. Use a pin to make tiny holes in the pumpkin along the lines of the pattern. Your holes should be no more than a quarter-inch apart.

    Remove the pattern. Put it aside, as you may need to refer to it while you are carving.

    Carve away! Following the pin-hole outline, be sure to cut all the way into the pumpkin, straight through, not at an angle. Carve slowly, using a sawing motion. Once you have completed a section of the pattern, remove the cut pumpkin pieces and discard.

    Finish up. Use your fingertips to smooth out your carved edges, and polish the outside of the pumpkin with a paper towel or cloth. Put a candle inside or, better yet, a small camping light that runs on batteries.

    • You can make a snack out of the saved pumpkin seeds. Wash and rinse the seeds and place them on a flat baking pan. Bake in the oven until slightly brown. Salt and serve.
    • Don't cut too fast. It's easy to make mistakes, especially when following tiny pinpricks in a sea of orange. One wrong cut could ruin your creation. If you do make a wrong cut, you re-attach a piece of pumpkin using toothpicks and fast-drying glue.