The jack-o'-lantern dates back to the days of Jack the Irishman, who,
as punishment for playing pranks on the Devil, was sentenced to wander
the world carrying a lantern to light his way. Carve your own scary
jack-o'-lantern with these seven super tips:
1. Choose a good one. Any pumpkin is good carving material, provided
it's big enough for your design, has enough structural strength to
withstand carving, and has a flat bottom to stand on.
2. Spill your guts. Begin by cutting a lid. Carve a circle around the
stem, angling your knife or pumpkin-carving saw toward the center so
the lid won't fall inward. Scrape out the seeds and fibrous pulp.
3. Create a ghoulish design. As for the design, you can draw it
directly on the pumpkin or draw it on paper, tape the paper onto the
pumpkin, and fold or snip the paper to conform to curves. Transfer the
pattern by poking perforations in the rind at 1/4-inch intervals with
a tack, nail, or official pumpkin poker. If you have trouble seeing
the dots, connect them with a felt-tip pen.
4. Cut it out. With a sharp knife or a carving saw, cut along the
dotted lines. First cut out small features like eyes, then cut larger
ones like the mouth.
5. Save face. If you wish, attach the cut-out eyes to the outside with
toothpicks, making ears.
6. Preserve your work. When your jack-o'-lantern is done, rub all cut
edges with petroleum jelly to slow drying.
7. Light it up. If you light your jack-o'-lantern with a candle, let
the candle burn a few moments with the lid on, then create a chimney
by boring a hole into the blackened portion of the lid.
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