Monday, October 22, 2012


Carving a Jack O'Lantern Without Making Any Mess at All

1. Live alone.

2. Buy a pumpkin, draw a face on it.

3. Set it by the sink, get out a bowl. 

4. Cut off its top (make a notch so it's easier to close), scoop out the insides, and put it all in the bowl.

5. Cut out the face. Keep putting everything into the bowl, which is right beside the pumpkin.

6. No mess! Almost, except for these few ... kernels? Throw it all away, or cook the seeds. I used to do things like that in a past life.

7. Buy/have crayons and glue, and glue unwrapped crayons to the top of the pumpkin.

8. Let dry for a bit. Looks a little like hair.

9. Using a hair dryer (strangely appropriate??), apply heat to the crayons, as a website instructional suggests. It turns out, though, that the low setting isn't hot enough to melt the crayons, and the high setting whips the wet wax onto all surrounding surfaces in a three-foot radius. Stop project, temporarily. A tiny mess is made, but a friend informs you that the crayon splatters can be removed with WD-40.

10. Let pumpkin sit on the counter for a day or three while you figure out what to do. The internet recommends a propane tank, or a culinary torch. Ask friends if they have culinary torches, but the only ones who do live uptown.

11. Friend cancels on after-work drinks, so while sitting at home scrolling through Tumblr SUDDENLY have the stroke of genius (or belated, obvious thought?) to put the pumpkin in a really big plastic bag.

12. Get Container Store bag (or any trash bag) from the bag cabinet and go crazy with the high heat on the blow dryer. Melt all the crayons. Head wound!

13. Take off the top of the pumpkin while things are still a little melted so you can use it later. Put a candle in, and turn off the lights to make sure it works.

14. Done! No mess, basically. And here's a bonus old picture of the genius who thought to use a plastic bag for this project, which the more she thinks about, the more she's sure other people would have thought of a lot sooner than she did, which makes her sad. Anyway, here's a picture of her and her dad carving pumpkins back in the day. He was meticulous about cleaning, and would probably have been pleasantly surprised by this post.

60 Comments / Post A Comment


I firmly believe that Edith was born with luscious flowing locks, and anybody who tries to convince me away from that origin story will be dead to me henceforth.


@redheaded&crazie Edith is actually the name of the intelligent & verbose hair. It has bonded with a host body, which it uses to pass as a human. Every few years Hair-Edith molts her host and must find a new one that looks similar enough to her previous one that people will ask her if she got a new haircut. (Obviously, no.)


@deepomega Okay I lied, THIS is an origin story I can get behind.


is great.@j

Tuna Surprise

That picture is so cute! Nothing signifies it's time for serious food-based, holiday-themed crafting (Easter eggs, jack-o-lanterns) like spreading newspaper on the kitchen counter.

A. Louise

I have been looking for an excuse to melt crayons on something and I think I just found it!


I'm definitely not getting sniffly now about moving out and across the country and not carving pumpkins with my dad this year, nope. I'm making a lasagna for one, is all.


@Lucienne Best random Flight of the Conchords reference.

RK Fire

Quick jack-o-lantern question: best way to light one? I used a LED tea light I picked up from Wegmans and it died relatively quickly. Sure, I left it on for three days straight, but even on the second night it seemed significantly dimmer.


@RK Fire Old-fashioned fire is my favorite.

RK Fire

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher: I like the idea of this but my husband is oddly apprehensive of unattended fires. Also, I have cats, and so there is a chance cats might try to knock it over. :(


@RK Fire Okay, fair enough. New plan: get some of those little round stick-on LED push lights (like dese). Very bright, long-lasting, easy to turn on and off, and (as long as you don't take the sticky backing off) reusable later!

RK Fire

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher: Duly noted. Thank you!

I feel like I should also add that this pumpkin was the first pumpkin I've ever carved, so I'm really proud of it, and I was pleased to find out how delicious its insides are. They went into some pumpkin muffins and some chili.


@RK Fire As a kid, my parents were always anti-fire. We used flashlights and to facilitate this, we'd cut a panel in the back rather than around the top of the 'lantern.


I am getting more and more excited about the pumpkin carving party I'm throwing this week. The 'Pin is going to get me through without my house turning into a crime scene.

Who's got good recipes for roasted pumpkin seeds?

RK Fire

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher: Also, not so much a recipe but a suggestion: get Trader Joe's pumpkin pie spice mix, apply liberally to seeds, roast.


@RK Fire Oooh, hello.

Now I kind of want to do a series of TJs-mixes-flavored-pepitas. Pumpkin pie spice, taco seasoning, etc etc etc...?


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher - I made some roasted pumpkin seeds yesterday. Recipe: Cinnabon Sprinkle Topping. It's near the cinnamon.


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher omg can i come to ur party plz?~

Reginal T. Squirge

Ha! I laughed out loud when scrolling from the picture of the pumpkin in a bag to the picture of the exploded crayon goop.

Daisy Razor

@Reginal T. Squirge Me too! It's so...explody.

fondue with cheddar

I love the look of carved pumpkins but can't carve them myself (or even allow someone to carve one in my house) because of the smell.


I kind of hate carving pumpkins, because when I was a kid we used to have to do it out in the garage or outside, and I would basically freeze my hands off.


@Megano! I was a Florida kid-- our pumpkins lived outside in the heat and putting your hand inside one was like squishing living guts. Gross!


@allerby I would always have to carve my pumpkin Halloween night because the hot, muggy weather would turn carved pumpkins into mush overnight.

karen carpenter

I wonder if you could use an embossing heat gun for this? (Raise your hands, anyone who has ever had overly ambitious DIY invitation plans?)


@karen carpenter Hahahaha. I was thinking heat tool too! Get's real hot, doesn't blow... that, uh, sounds like the beginning of a dirty riddle.
I too have been overambitious when it comes to paper crafts in general, but not invitations specifically.


We're gonna be carving tonight! Yipee!


I have never heard of or seen this melted crayon thing before! Is it a regional thing that never made it to New England?


@SarahP It's more of Pinterest thing that hasn't made it to the rest of the internet. Yet.


I clicked on this expecting a genuinely "how to be clean" article and wound up snort-laughing at my desk at the photo of the pumpkin with crayons glued to his head.


@rimy (it looks so damn cute with its crayon-head. I'd just keep it like that and giggle at it every time I walked by.)

The Lady of Shalott

Am I the only one who really loves the smell of pumpkins when candles have been burning in them? That kind of burnt, cooked, pumpkin-y business? I LOVE IT SO MUCH. More than anything else to do with carving pumpkins.


This makes me miss carving pumpkins so badly. Ever since I moved to an apartment in the big city I don't bother. But back when I was still living at home I would make my mom buy three pumpkins. I would carve all three by myself (control freak, me? Never!) and it was glorious! I would always do one as a traditional jack 'o lantern, one with ghosts and the third changed from year to year depending on how ambitious I felt. I miss those days.


Wait, do you or don't you scoop out the insides--apart from the crap attached to the inside of the cap? Cuz you can't get a candle in there if all the guts are still intact, but there's no mention of de-gutting anywhere. And, for me, dealing with the guts is the absolute worst and UN-clean part of carving a pumpkin. I thought this article would have some new trick for avoiding guts.

one cow.

@JB See step 4!


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I'm going to be honest, here: I'm probably too lazy to do the crayon thing, but I am totally stealing that slightly demented jack-o-lantern face, because I love it.


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I'm definitely not getting sniffly now about moving out and across the country and not carving pumpkins with my dad this year, nope. I'm making a lasagna for one, is all.Post Box


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