How to Carve
How to prepare the pumpkin for its coming facelift
1. Cut a circle around the top of the pumpkin without damaging the stem.
2. Remove the top and put aside.
3. Remove and discard the pulp and seeds unless you want to make Vampire Fingernails snacks for your Halloween party.
4. With a putty knife or similar scraper, gently scrape down the inside of the pumpkin to remove any moist flesh clinging to the sides. Be careful not to damage the wall of the pumpkin.
Now it's time to transfer the stencil
1. Wipe the outside of the pumpkin so that it is free of dust and other foreign material. If you need to wipe it down with a wet rag, allow it to become thoroughly dry before proceeding to the next step.
2. Tape the stencil to the side of the pumpkin that you have chosen to be the face. Tape the top left corner first, then the top right, bottom left and then bottom right. Smooth the stencil out as you are taping it. If you have to crease the stencil to make it lie flat then be sure to pick areas that are not part of the design.
3. Using an ice pick or a pin-point punch awl, gently poke holes through the stencil and into the pumpkin. Follow the lines of the stencil carefully. It's a lot like paying connect-the-dots games. Space the dots out however you see fit but remember that very complex designs are easier to work with if the holes are close together.
4. Check carefully to make sure that you have transferred the entire pattern and then remove the stencil. Keep the stencil handy to refer to in case you get confused while cutting.
Time to put your patient under the knife
Although many a pumpkin has fallen under the standard kitchen knife, it's both the wrong tool and a very dangerous tool for pumpkin carving. For best results get yourself an X-Acto knife with a #5 knife blade and a #15 keyhole saw. See your home store for both items.
Using the saw for long cuts and the X-Acto for the close-in and intricate cuts, just follow the pattern carefully and, before you know it, you'll have the pride of the pumpkin patch and possibly the neighborhood right there before you!