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Opinion

Jack-o’-lanterns show festive spirit

Brittney Pfenning­-Wendt

October 14, 2011

Spark up your room with a pumpkin! It screams Halloween (especially if you carve it a mouth, jack-o’-lantern style). Pumpkins come in orange, yellow, dark green, pale-green, red, orange-yellow, white, and grey, though some colors may be harder to find than others. The size also varies from jack-be-little pumpkins to record-winning giant pumpkins weighing in at 1810 pounds. Don’t limit yourself to carving. Once you’ve picked your favorite color and size, there are many things you can do depending on your preferred style, how much time you have, and what tools are available.

A jack-o’-lantern doesn’t need to be carved. The goofy or spooky expressions can be easily achieved with a little artistry in the form of paint. So go ahead and paint the wackiest expression you’ve got, or try something different. Put a solid base coat of paint and use raised letter stickers to spell out some Halloween greetings or stick some other fun Halloween décor onto the surface such as bats, cats, ghosts, or candy. Keep in mind when painting a face or placing stickers it is often easier with a smooth, taller pumpkin that isn’t as ribbed. With a few other accessories you can even turn your pumpkin into a completely different Halloween character. Painting it black and adding three pipe cleaners along the base on either side turns it into a spider, whereas some feathers on the top of a white jack-belittle along with some painted or sticker eyes and a sunflower seed beak will give you an owl.

Another neat touch is carving into the top layer of the pumpkin’s skin. You can choose a design and etch this out on the surface revealing an undertone beneath the flesh. Try a pattern that encompasses the whole pumpkin for a really cool effect you can appreciate from any angle. A potter’s ribboning tool, found at a most craft stores, will help clean out the shape. This etching style can be done with any size; so get creative and try it on a couple different sizes and colors. Match your design to your pumpkin so they complement each other.

If you’d prefer to incorporate your pumpkin into your other fall accessories with a more modern twist, then try these tips and tricks. Pumpkins make great table toppers, candle holders, flower pots, wreath highlights, centerpieces, or even floating in a small dish. For the candle holder remove the top half and hollow out the remaining base to fit around your candle or plant. Arranging it with leaves, berries, or other gourds will result in a very welcoming wreath or even a beautiful centerpiece. To give it an extra boost, try spraypainting the pumpkin with metallic paint such as silver, bronze, or gold, whichever best matches your setting.

Remember the Halloween icon isn’t hard to find. The River Falls farmer’s market is a great place; they have a decent selection of pumpkins as well as decorative corn and gourds. Located on the corner of Locust and Second Street (across from First National Bank) they are open Tuesday evenings from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday mornings from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Get out and enjoy the fresh air while perusing local goods. Can’t make it? No worries, pumpkins can be found at nearly every grocery store. Econofoods has them displayed right out front. You can’t miss them. Don’t let your tight schedule deny you the pleasures of pumpkin decorating. Turn that Jack-o- Lanterns frown upside down.

Brittney Pfenning­-Wendt is a columnist for the Student Voice.