From jack-o-lanterns to works-of-art: pumpkin carving for the wh - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

From jack-o-lanterns to works-of-art: pumpkin carving for the whole family

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - Halloween is a mere four days away, which means it's time to put the finishing touches on your costume, break out the candy and carve the perfect pumpkin to adorn your stoop. If you're less than artistic, you're in luck: a local pumpkin carver shared his skills at The Potting Shed in Altoona today.

"A lot of kids have carved the jack-o-lanterns with the triangle eyes and mouth and they're not really impressed with it. When you teach them how to do this and they turn out, they're satisfied with what they've done," Shannon Engel says.

Before you can set saw to skin expert carver Shannon says pumpkins need to be prepped and a plan of attack needs to be hatched.

"You want to cut from the middle out. Most of the detailed stuff you want to get done before you move onto the big pieces. Otherwise the motion of the saw busts the pumpkin off. When you're carving the pumpkin, let the saw do the work. I would never use a kitchen knife. With the saws, you get a uniform cut and the kids can't hurt themselves," Engel says.

Other tools he recommends are toothbrushes and vegetable peelers. And, to make the pumpkins last, hit them with a shot of bathroom cleaner to prevent molding.

"Start with something simple and move on to something difficult," Engel says.

Like pumpkin etching, which requires scraping where the sun don't shine.

"Carve from the inside of the pumpkin to highlight it. When the light shines through, this area here all glows," Engel says.

Luckily, tips, tricks and templates are available to make everyone's pumpkins look like Shannon carved them himself.

"Keep your stencil because if you don't know what part you're carving, you can look at your stencil and see what part you're at. That way you don't cut an ear off or something," Emma Camlek from Fall Creek says.

From jack-o-lanterns to minions: pumpkin carving isn't all about the finished product.

"We just want to make it a really fun day for a family. Parents and kids having a good time and making some cool memories," says Nancy Skelley of The Potting Shed.

And here's another tip from Shannon: he says pumpkins should be lit by battery powered bulbs instead of candles. He says they're safer, cheaper and will last longer. And, if you're worried you'll miss the smell of slowly-cooking pumpkin by candlelight, Shannon says a fluorescent light bulb will heat the pumpkin enough to get the familiar smell.

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