1. Preparing Your Pumpkin
Before carving a face, scrape and clean the inside of the pumpkin. The cleaner you get it, the longer it will last.
"I always tell people, 'Gut it out twice as much as you think you need to,'" says Wer. "It should be very dry inside."
1. The Carve
Folks, there are two kinds of pumpkin carve: the lighted Jack-o'-lantern face and the three-dimensional sculpture, in which a pumpkin is treated like a block of wood - only stinky and less permanent. The Maniac team carves both styles. Cummins carves in creepy 3-D. The tools are the same, but they're used in different ways.
Take either carve up a notch by adding depth and texture. Wer carves up to five layers in his faux pumpkins to get a mix of light and shadow for a photorealistic quality.
Learn this skill, called shading, by scraping part of your design into the gourd.
"It just creates this new layer and this multi-level depth," says Wer.
Need more help? Visit pumpkin-carving tutorials, such as those posted by The Pumpkin Lady, on YouTube.
1. More About Tools
The Maniac team favors tools from the kitchen or garage, primarily paring knives, graters and saws. They tout linoleum cutters and sculpting tools.
Linoleum cutters have several gouge tips. Evan likes the V-gouge for making precise cuts, whether shallow or deep. Ceramists' sculpting tools are metal loops on a stick - in various shapes and sizes - that can be purchased at art supply and craft stores. They slice smoothly through pumpkin rind.
Those cheap pumpkin-carving kits? All four of our expert carvers love them.
The Maniac team uses the orange plastic scoop to clean out hundreds of pumpkins — fast. Cummins uses the scoop too, and praises the kit's flimsy, serrated blade.