Sinister snaggletoothed sentinels, most jack-o'-lanterns flaunt the traditional features of ample curves, a rich candlelit glow, and kitschy gruesomeness. Beyond providing decoration and atmospheric light, however, carved pumpkins don't make themselves very useful. They just sit on their windowsills and grimace at passersby. Why can't they help out more around the house?
They can. Think of that orange squash as not only an ornament but an artist's tool, and you can have your lantern and use it to make fantastical block prints, too. For carving and inking designs in relief, pumpkins, it turns out, work as well as potatoes, wood, or linoleum -- materials long used to make prints on paper or fabric. You begin by carving pumpkins. You can create designs yourself, or download our templates.
Our crafts department's signature style of carving pumpkins in relief -- thinning the flesh so the design stands out clearly -- makes for dramatic jack-o'-lanterns and good printing tools. Then they put those pumpkins to work. To transfer the images, coat the designs in ink and stamp them onto gauze for curtains, paper bags for luminarias, trick-or-treat sacks for collecting bounty, or favor bags for a party. Whatever projects you prefer, you'll end up with a houseful of harmonious decorations -- not to mention jack-o'-lanterns, the memory of which will haunt the neighbors long after October 31.