From pumpkin to jack-o-lantern 

From a normal jack to more complex designs – including, in Lincoln Parish, the ever popular Tech logo – carving jack-o-lanterns is a long-standing tradition with the October holiday, now spreading into pumpkin carving parties, neighborhood get-togethers, and friend and family celebrations. 

Often timing – especially in Louisiana – is essential in determining when to carve a pumpkin. Because of our second summer (also known as October), carvers may want to wait until closer to Halloween to carve their pumpkin. Jack-o-lanterns will last between three and 14 days – with some of that variation depending on weather. Warmer climates should expect jack-o-lanterns to last for a shorter amount of time, but cooler weather will keep a carved pumpkin from rotting. However, again, when in Louisiana – closer to Halloween is preferable, if individuals want to illuminate the jack-o-lantern on Oct. 31. 

When picking carving tools, serrated knives work best, as well as small paring knives, but local stores offer pumpkin-carving kits that are made specifically for creating that desired pumpkin design. 

When creating that first hole, experts have stated that instead of carving a hole in the top of a pumpkin, carve it at the bottom to cut off any bumps and to allow the pumpkin to sit level on a flat surface. It’s also easier to put the jack’s illumination in from the bottom of the pumpkin instead of the top. 

Another factor that will help the carved pumpkin last longer is to ensure the insides are cleaned out thoroughly. This will keep the pumpkin from rotting as quickly and allow light to shine through clearly. Also, as many pumpkin seed recipes are available online, this is an opportunity to use all the parts of the pumpkin for fall enjoyment. 

Carvers can then either draw a pumpkin design or use a template, which are found easily online. Dry erase markers will allow designers to mark all the lines before starting to cut into the pumpkin. When carving the design, use various knives – large knives can pull out large sections and small, finer blades will allow individuals to create more detailed work. 

After that, it’s simply a matter of illumination. Candle-free options are the safest and also available at local stores. Battery-operated lights or – if the pumpkin is near an outlet – Christmas lights will allow the pumpkin’s design and creativity to shine through on Halloween. 

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