Pocono Pumpkin Contest: Pointers for carving the most effective pumpkin

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Lef
t: Douglas Hafler painted this 39-pound pumpkin for Halloween when he was once tenting at Otter Lake campground. Proper: Tyler Bush put his dad's rusty nails to excellent use: tooth in his pumpkin.Contributed picture

Step 1: Carve or enhance a pumpkin.

Step 2: Take an image of it and put up it to www.poconorecord.com/pumpkin.

You can enter your photos into one of two categories: Scariest and Cutest. Enter as many pumpkin photos as you want. Readers will vote for their favorite in each category.

The winners and runners-up will appear in the Halloween edition of the Pocono Record.

The deadline to submit a photo is 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 20.

To get started, here are some pumpkin carving tips from Chef's Choice Knives, EdgeCraft Corp. and pumpkin-carving.com:

What you need

A pumpkin with a large, smooth surface. A smooth surface is easier to carve. Pick a ripe pumpkin without bruises or nicks for best results.

Carving tools

Boning and paring knives make sure they're sharp)

Nail or ice pick for poking through the surface for detailed work and scoring

An ice cream scoop is helpful for scooping out contents.

A carving saw for carving fine, detailed areas, but can be used for the entire jack-o'-lantern.

A transfer tool can transfer designs onto the face of the pumpkin.

Carving stencils can be drawn either freehand onto paper or using computer.

Newspaper to catch the mess

Scooping out

The opening at the top should be large enough to allow you to scoop out the guts by hand and with a large spoon. Generally, the size of the hole should be about two-thirds the diameter of the pumpkin.

As you cut out the top hole, angle the knife toward the center so the lid and hole will be somewhat cone shaped. This will help
prevent the lid from falling into the hole.

Important note: Children should never attempt to carve a pumpkin or handle knives unless parents are there to help.

The design

If you're going freehand, pre-mark the pumpkin by using a crayon.

You can find carving patterns online or create your own. Tape the pattern to the pumpkin and use a metal nail or ice pick to trace design onto pumpkin through the pattern.

Using the transfer tool, press the pointed tip into and through the design lines on the paper stencil spaced about a 1/8 of an inch apart. The tip of the transfer tool should be pushed in just enough to go through the paper and the outer skin of the pumpkin, not all the way through the pumpkin.

Carving

Once you've scored the design, use the boning and paring knives to complete the job.

Or, if you're using a carving saw, push the tip of the saw-blade into a pattern hole and saw through the design lines with short, back-and-forth motions. Basically, you're playing "connect the dots."

Once you've removed all of the cut pieces, carefully trim the inside edges of the pumpkin of any excess flesh with the carving saw or a small knife.

Carve the excess off at about a 45 degree angle. This allows more light to come through, showing your design to its fullest.

Coat the edges with petroleum jelly to help preserve it.

More info

For pumpkin carving tips, history and free patterns, visit www.pumpkin-carving.com

For stencils, here are a few sites:

www.bandofcat
s.com has cats and more cats.

http://scareo.com has activities, scary pictures, directions and patterns.

www.pumpkinlady.com/pattern.htm. Some patterns have a fee, but if you scroll to the bottom in categories, you'll find free ones.

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