If you were to ask what the scariest thing I’ll be doing this Halloween season is, my answer would be carving pumpkins. I suppose Halloween’s not over just yet, but I doubt my answer will sway. I’m not saying this because I’m a klutz and I’m terrified I’ll stab myself with a knife, or because I have apocolocynposis (the fear of being turned into a pumpkin, for all of you keeping track of home… those poor souls), but because I haven’t carved a pumpkin since I was a small child, and I probably only got as far as sketching on a jack-o-lantern face before the parents took over with a carving knife. So when my boyfriend Austin and I made plans to carve pumpkins for the 31st, I was determined to brave it up and go for something other than a standard Halloween-y pumpkin face. Here are our results.

 

Step One: Choosing the Plumpest Pumpkin

We took a visit to our local grocery store to try and find the prettiest pumpkins that didn’t have oddly shaped dents or that weren’t rotting from the outside. No one warned me about soggy pumpkin flesh that happened to blend in with the rest, so I had a couple unhappy surprises when reaching into the big bins to find a nice shapely canvas. I should probably admit the pumpkin on the left does have a demented backside, but we figured it wouldn’t get in the way of carving the front half of our precious fruit.

 

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Step Two: De-Fleshing the Pumpkin

I remember this being the most fun part as a kid, but pumpkin string and seeds sure do feel mushy. We had a couple spoons to help us out but a lot of it involved getting down and dirty and scooping out the insides with our hands.

 

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Dessert, anyone?

 

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Step Three: Choosing A Pumpkin Design

I went back and forth on this for a while – do I want to do Gizmo from Gremlins? No wait, what about Zero from The Nightmare Before Christmas? Or hey, Snoopy would be cute… until I finally settled on Totoro from My Neighbor Totoro. Austin knows how to make decisions and he was dead set on carving the cat from Hausu.

 

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Step Four: Drawing the Outline

I’m incompetent when it comes to drawing, but I figured I made a good choice with Totoro and his gigantic eyes, nose, and teeth. We had our desired images up on our laptop screens and drew up our designs on our pumpkins with Sharpies and minimal errors.

 

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That’s Ghoulies III: Ghoulies Go To College in the background, for those of you wondering.

 

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Step Five: Time to Carve

Having a variety of knifes helped us to make precise cuts and carve out smaller pieces. We also took things a (small) step further by carving out more shallow areas of our design, rather than cutting everything out completely, with the hope that this would give our pumpkin faces a little more character and a more interesting effect once the candles were in place. I found it was better to cut smaller than desired, that way I could always adjust and knife out more if the design needed adjusting. We also made sure to take frequent breaks while cutting, pumpkin carving sure can make you work up a sweat.

 

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Step Five: Lighting Up the Pumpkin

Once we were satisfied with our finished products, we whipped out the candles and lit ’em up! Considering it had been years since either of us had made pumpkin lanterns, I give us ten high fives for success. And maybe a badge of bravery for me for facing my pumpkin-drawing-and-carving fears.

 

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