by Mel Karel
If you’re thinking of making a pumpkin lantern or other pumpkin-related decorations this Halloween, it’s important to start out right by choosing the best pumpkin you can find. And how do you know which pumpkin is best? That depends on what you want to use it for, and this article provides a guide.
If you are going to be carving your pumpkin
If you’re planning to carve a design into your pumpkin, you should consider the following factors:
The size of the pumpkin will determine how large and complex a design you can easily create. If you’re using a pre-made stencil or template, a medium size pumpkin is usually best, unless the directions specifiy otherwise. If you’re creating your own design, sketch it out on paper first, and use that as a guide to determine the size of pumpkin you’ll need. If you’re unsure, it’s generally better to err on the side of caution and buy a large pumpkin, so you have more room for error! Larger pumpkins are also usually better for very ornate, sophisticated designs.
However, you should bear in mind that larger pumpkins are generally older, and as such have tougher shells, making them a little harder to carve. If you are inexperienced at pumpkin carving, a smaller, younger pumpkin might be a better choice. Smaller pumpkins also look good when carved with simple designs that are easy for beginners.
You should select a pumpkin that has a flat enough bottom to enable it to sit upright and remain stable. Beyond this, pumpkins may be relatively flat, or round, or tall. The best shape depends on your design – obviously if you’re carving a tall vertical design, a tall pumkpin will work best, and vice versa.
The outer skin of your pumpkin should be as smooth as possible, especially if you are going to be carving a complex design . On the other hand, if you should end up with a pumpkin with some surface irregularities, you might be able to incorporate these into your design, for a more unique effect.
A pumpkin that is uniformly orange is best. This means finding a pumpkin that is ripe. Bear in mind though that pumpkins come in a range of other colours too, so if you’re considering more unusual pumpkin decorating ideas, you might consider a white, green or other non-orange pumpkin instead.
Ensure that your pumpkin has no bruises, mold, soft spots or other signs of damage. Healthy pumpkins are firm when you press them, and the stem should feel secure, and not dried out. After buying your pumpkin, ensure that you don’t drop it, and be careful not to carry it by the stem, to avoid breakage. You can also prolong the life of your pumpkin and keep it in good condition longer by using petroleum jelly or a special pumpkin preservation spray on the exposed areas.
Does the pumpkin look good from all angles? This is an important requirement for a centerpiece pumpkin. On the other hand, if it will be placed by a wall or in a window, you only need a pumpkin with one ‘good side’, so you can be less fussy.
7. Your intended uses
The type of pumpkin(s) that you choose will also depend on how you plan to use and display it (or them). A single centerpiece may look better if you choose a large pumpkin, whereas if you’re going to group several pumpkins together, you might prefer to use small ones, or a mixture of sizes, colours and shapes. If you need to carve up lots of pumpkins in a relatively short space of time (for example, if you’re having a pumpkin carving contest at your Halloween party), you should opt for smaller, more easily carved pumpkins.
If you are going to be painting your pumpkin
Pumpkin painting is a fun and safe alternative to pumpkin carving, and can be safely enjoyed by all ages. Painted pumpkins also last longer than the carved variety. So if you want a long-lasting pumpkin that stands out from the crowd, consider painting it!
The above points about choosing pumpkin to carve also apply if you’re going to be painting your pumpkin. You should choose the size and shape on the basis of your design, and a smooth surface is definitely best for pumpkin painting. However, the colour might not matter so much for a painted pumpkin if your design will cover most or all of the pumpkin’s surface.
Bear the above points in mind when choosing your Halloween pumpkin this year, and you’re sure to get great results with it!
Melania Karel is entranced by all things supernatural and Halloween-related, and is webmaster of [http://www.halloweenopedia.com], a treasure trove of spooky information and resources, including information about pumpkin painting and other forms of Halloween decoration.
Photo by Ben Hanson on Unsplash
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