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5 pumpkin-carving tips from Chicago master carver Robert Childers

By Courtney Jacquin @courtneyjacquin

RedEye

9:38 AM CDT, October 7, 2013

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Not everyone can carve a pumpkin like master carver Robert Childers, but his tips can help anyone transform a regular gourd into a ghoul, or whatever you prefer.

The local chef instructor made his national debut on Food Network's "Halloween Wars," and he's sharing his tips with RedEye to carve the perfect pumpkin. In the video above he carves a rose into a pumpkin and makes it look easy enough we all just might be able to do it.

Tip 1: Choose the right pumpkin. Shape, size and weight are all important when it comes to choosing the perfect pumpkin, and it all depends on what you want to do with it. Heavier pumpkins will likely have thicker walls, necessary for intricate carvings.

Tip 2: Choose your style. Childers and other maser pumpkin carvers tend to carve shapes and faces into the pumpkins rather than cutting them out, but you might prefer jack-o-lanterns made by cutting out chunks of the pumpkin. If the walls of the pumpkin are thin, jack-o-lanterns are the way to go.

Tip 3: Pick your design. Once you chose what kind of pumpkin you want to carve, knowing the design you want is key. You may not be able to carve crazy faces into pumpkins just yet, but Childers recommends starting with something simple and practicing. It’s also important to trace your design on the pumpkin before you dig in.

Tip 4: Get the right tools. The pumpkin carving kits sold in stores this time of year are not ideal; Childers suggests you go to an art store to get your necessary tools. Loop tools, X-acto knives and scouring pads (to smooth the surface of the pumpking before carving) are the best options you can have.

Tip 5: Use shadows to your advantage. Using a light right above your pumpkin will show you where the shadows will happen. Shadows have the ability to make pumpkins look extra creepy, so seeing where they’ll fall and playing into the shadows while carving is key.

Above all, Childers says to have fun with the pumpkins, and not to get hung up on trying to do crazy designs. Have fun!

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