Halloween Crafts for Honolulu Families: 6 Pumpkin Carving Tips from a Master

We ask an expert how to make your jack-‘o-lantern last longer, fix a broken tooth in your design and the number one mistake most rookies make.


Photo: Courtesy of the Pumpkin Carving Festival


When you head to the pumpkin patch, we bet you aren’t planning to pick a 1,000-pound pumpkin to haul home. But that’s all in a days work for master carver Ed Moody.


The Michigan man saved up to buy his first pumpkin when he was just 6. The trained sculptor really discovered his love for the art when he began carving unique pumpkins for his sons. Since then, he has created Cinderella pumpkin carriages and more giant faces than we could count on his online gallery.


He’s been sharing his craft and carving up 1,200-pound pumpkins into characters at Windward Mall for the last few years. So who better to turn for help making your own jack-’o-lanterns at home?


We asked Moody for the best way to pick, carve and keep your pumpkin this Halloween season.


SEE ALSO: 👻 Halloween Events for Families in Hawaiʻi in 2021


Our Tips


1. Rookies should start with a big pumpkin. “They sit in place when you’re carving,” Moody says, “and the insides are softer.”


2. When cutting the top, don’t cut straight down. Go in at a 45-degree angle to keep the top from falling in when the pumpkin shrinks. Also, Moody suggests cutting out a notch so you can easily put the top back on the right way.


3. Made a mistake? Don’t toss pieces away. Let’s say you sliced a little too deep and your jack-‘o-lantern’s tooth fell off, Moody says use toothpicks to put it back together. “The wood will swell from the moisture in the pumpkin and keep it intact. Do not use glue or nails.”


4. Protect your pumpkin. In Hawai‘i’s weather, Moody says pumpkins can last about two weeks, that is if you put it in the refrigerator when you’re not around to enjoy it. Otherwise, you can rub Vaseline on the inside and everywhere that is cut or spray a solution of one part Clorox to two parts water on the inside. That will get rid of bacteria and minimize mold.


5. Don’t use candles. Moody says heat is a pumpkin’s worst enemy and candles will actually cook the pumpkin. LED lights will not only make the pumpkin last longer, it is safer than a real flame.


6. Use the right tools. Store-bought kits are great for families because Moody says the cutters are generally not too sharp. He uses kitchen paring knives, but says clay loops or other sculpting tools are fantastic for advanced carvers who want to add more detail.



All finished? See our 5 tips for keeping that jack o’lantern as fresh as possible through Oct. 31 in humid Hawaiʻi.