Nothing against jack-o'-lanterns: Those quirky grinning faces -- all crooked teeth and gleaming eyes -- will always have their place on the front stoop come late October. But if you want your autumn decorating to have more grown-up appeal, you might set your sights a little higher.
Something happens to a lighted pumpkin when suspended in midair: When it no longer has to balance on its slightly lopsided bottom, its imperfections fade away, and it takes on an unexpected grace. Pumpkins made into temporary light fixtures can spread a charming glow over your autumn celebration or create an eerie but sophisticated welcome for Halloween callers.
The chandeliers, lamps, and sconces on the following pages mimic the designs of classic light fixtures and show how well pumpkins lend themselves to that task. The smallest ones make snug, sturdy holders for tea lights, and any size pumpkin will glimmer with the diffused warmth of an opaque-glass lamp when skillfully carved and lighted.
Though the fixtures look intricate, they are easy to re-create with the proper tools and a bit of patience. Just allow time to do the project shortly before your celebration, since a carved pumpkin looks its best for only a day or two.
With our techniques as a starting point, you can get as creative as you like with your designs -- and have as much fun as you usually do making jack-o'-lanterns. No matter how elegant your carving is, it will still feel like child's play when you're elbow deep in pumpkin.