This Halloween, perfect your pumpkin carving skills with these creative tricks

Ever wonder how your neighbours manage to carve up impressive jack-o'-lanterns while you create the same snaggle-toothed monstrosity every year? Craft specialist Colleen Dorsey shares her tips to making pumpkin carving easier and faster in her new ebook Easy Pumpkin Carving: Spooktacular Patterns, Tips & Ideas. Here are a few of her valuable words of advice...


1. Pick the perfect pumpkin

pumpkinEasy Pumpkin CarvingFor the best results, you want a pumpkin with a smooth, clean surface. You can tell a pumpkin is ripe when it has a uniform colour and doesn’t dent when you press your thumb on the bottom. Keep your pumpkin fresh by storing it out of any direct sunlight and rubbing the cut edges with Vaseline.


2. The right tools for the job

pumpkinEasy Pumpkin CarvingStandard carving kits generally come with saws, knives, a poker tool and a pounce wheel. If you don’t have a kit, build one yourself with various kitchen utensils. You can use a big spoon or ice cream scoop to collect the innards of the pumpkin. To elevate your carving game and avoid any messes, use a non-slip drawer liner for your workspace.


3. Decorate a pumpkin knife-free

pumpkinEasy Pumpkin CarvingThis tip is great if you don't want to deal with the messy innards of your pumpkins. You can decorate for the season with paint, bows, stickers and even melted wax. Try painting them black and white to give them a spooky look.


4. Three words: pumpkin flower pot

pumpkinEasy Pumpkin CarvingThis idea is genius! Use a hollowed-out pumpkin as a flowerpot. You can create a cute centrepiece for your Halloween party.


5. Make pumpkin luminaries and etched designs with a drill

pumpkinEasy Pumpkin CarvingEtched pumpkins and luminaries give off a beautiful glow that brings autumnal ambiance to the home. Use a power drill to punch enough small holes in the pumpkin to turn it into a lantern. Clean out the holes with cotton swabs to make sure the light will get through. For an etched pumpkin, draw on your pattern first and then slowly carve away at the flesh so its glow is visible.


6. Always use a pattern

pumpkinEasy Pumpkin CarvingUnless you’re truly an artist, use a stencil on your pumpkin to lend a chosen design the correct size and shape. Carving freehand can open you up to a whole world of lopsided faces and distorted shapes, so take time to put on your stencil before you pick up a knife!