Tiffany Dias

After picking the perfect pumpkin, now it’s time to start thinking of all the ways to carve it up.

There are literally countless options to choose from such as animals, political figures, scary faces and emblems. Before you dig in, however, here are some tips from fellow students and faculty on how to turn an average pumpkin into a spooky or kooky jack-o-lantern.

Before you even begin, you’ll need the right tools for the job.

“The specialty pumpkin carvers are safer (than regular knives),” mathematics senior Jessica Ellis said. “You have a smaller chance of getting cut while your carving.”

You should also consider the shape of your pumpkin before you decide to slice into it.

“The round pumpkins tend to be the easiest to carve,” nutrition junior Lindsay Ek said. “They’re also the easiest to scoop out.”

Some people take a more technical approach to carving up their pumpkin. Landscape architecture associate professor Gary Clay suggests that pumpkin carving is a strategic process.

“I’ve learned that the trick to having a good pumpkin is the ears. They are the light to the pumpkin,” Clay explained. “Lighting is key, I like to have as many holes in the pumpkin as possible, but you don’t want it to look like Swiss cheese.”

Clay explains that carving up pumpkins is a way to reduce stress and sometimes “the pumpkins can represent stressors in life.” Therefore, as you carve – or stab – the pumpkin’s parts to reveal the candlelight, you can reduce tension as well.

But regardless of how your pumpkin design turns out, you can always eat the leftovers.

“I love to cook up the pumpkin seeds and eat them,” Ellis said.

Keep an eye out for mold and find a pumpkin with the stump still attached.

 If you want a pliable pumpkin, find one that has a lighter
orange color. The shape will add to the overall effect of the finished
pumpkin, and should reflect your design.

 Printing a pumpkin pattern off the internet is usually free and the design is easier to visualize versus working from your imagination. A pattern can be traced using an ice pick, kabob stick or even a knitting needle. A long boning knife will work well to trace your design from a print or from your imagination.

Instead of the typical scary faced pumpkin, try a “gun shot wound” pumpkin, a “puking pumpkin” or the “booger-eating” pumpkin. Ideas like these can be found on the Internet at, or you can create your own extreme pumpkin.

Use a utility knife, held like a pencil,
to cut out the larger chunks of pumpkin flesh. This tool will also help you decapitate your patient.

 An ice cream scooper works to scoop the insides of the pumpkin or “goop.”

When you’re done carving, throw away the mess and light a candle for your jack-o’-lantern. The only thing left to do is to find the perfect spot to place your ghoulish orange friend.

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