An old Irish tale relates how farmer Jack fell out with both God and the Devil. Barred from Heaven and Hell, Jack roams the Earth with his lamp, made from a burning coal tucked inside a hollow turnip. Today, easy-to-carve pumpkins rather than hard-to-sculpt turnips are the vegetable of choice for anyone wanting their own Jack O'Lantern. It's become a Halloween tradition to cut scary faces into the rinds, in memory of that wandering ghost.
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Cut the top off your pumpkin with a sharp, serrated kitchen knife. Angle the knife inwards, so when the top is cut off, it will be big enough to sit on the hollowed out pumpkin without falling inside. Scoop out the flesh and seeds inside. Scrape away the pith from the inside of the rind with a knife, to leave it about 3cm or 1 inch thick.
Sketch a scary face onto the pumpkin, using charcoal. Rub out lines you're not happy with and re-draw, until you've got the face just right. Score along all your lines with the point of a large nail. This makes it easier to carve out the shapes with a knife. If you're not confident about drawing, follow the links in the Resources section of this article for stencils you can print out and stick to your pumpkin as a guide.
Draw triangles for eyes and nose. Draw a row of small triangles for Jack's jagged teeth. Score along all the lines and cut out all the triangles. Put a tea-light inside the lantern. Put the top of the pumpkin back on like a lid and cut a small hole in it, to let the heat out. Light your lantern to see Jack grin.
Draw half-moon shapes for eyes, with a triangular notch in each one for evil pupils. Cut out the eye shapes, keeping the notches attached to the pumpkin. Give your witch Jack O'Lantern teeth. Cut a hole in the centre of her face. Push a carrot through it for her long nose. Sculpt gaping nostrils into the carrot. Score wrinkles into the face with a nail. Stick wisps of straw around the pumpkin's sides for witchy hair.
Draw two huge round eyes onto your pumpkin. Draw two long, narrow ovals directly below to make pinched skeletal nostrils. Draw a straight horizontal line for the mouth. Draw short vertical lines across the mouth to make a row of skull-like teeth. Score and cut along all your lines. Pop a tea-light inside the pumpkin. Put on the pumpkin's lid, with a hole cut in it to let the heat out.
Draw and cut out wobbly lines to make two eyes and a gaping mouth. Score jagged wrinkles around each hole, with the point of a nail. Dig deep into the rind, but don't cut right through. The ridges you create will cast spooky shadows when the lamp is lit. Where the rind is thin, the wrinkles will glow. Put a tea-light inside the pumpkin. Pop the lid back on, with a hole cut in it to let the heat out.
Draw ovals for the two eyes. Make a small round hole through each oval with a nail. Peel away the orange skin inside the ovals with a knife, to create staring white eyes. Carve the rest of the face like a Jack O'Lantern. Score deep lines all over the face with a nail. Score criss-cross marks over these lines, like the stitches of rough scars. Light the lamp to see the scars glow.
Draw and cut two X shapes for the clown's eyes, a round circle for his nose and a U-shaped, grinning mouth. Glue red tissue paper inside the pumpkin, to cover the nose-hole. Put a tea-light inside the lantern. Roll a square of kitchen foil into a cone to go on top of the pumpkin as the clown's hat. Make a hole in the cone to let out the heat. Light the lamp to see the clown's nose glow red.
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