Bats in the Belfry Pumpkin Stencil

No one's supposed to ask for whom the bell tolls, but listen closely... This gorgeous pumpkin stencil is tolling for you. This its bat-encircled belfry and beautifully etched roofline (not to mention the free, downloadable stencil), this pumpkin creates a rich Halloween atmosphere.

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No black paint on hand? No problem! Use a black permanent marker to create the dark belfry and rooftop outlines. If you do opt to paint, we recommend painting the lines after carving; this prevents paint from flaking off while you're cutting. A light mist of varnish afterward will seal the paint and protect your artwork.

To carve:

1. Resize the pumpkin stencil to fit your pumpkin. To resize, just use a photocopier to reduce or enlarge the image for a custom fit.

2. Tape the resized stencil onto the surface of your cleaned-out pumpkin. With a needle tool, mark the stencil lines by creating closely spaced needle holes, piercing the paper and the pumpkin skin. Remove the stencil.

3. Etch the shingles with a gouge or electric etching tool, whittling away just enough pumpkin skin to view the light-color rind beneath. Carve the moon shape and the space around the bell with a thin serrated crafts knife. (Tip: If you accidentally cut out the bell shape, don't worry. For a quick fix, stick a toothpick partly into the cut pumpkin edge and gently push the bell piece onto the end of the protruding toothpick to secure it. Repeat as necessary to suspend the bell in place.)

4. Use a black permanent marker or black crafts paint to outline the roof and belfry. (Note: If you use paint, set it afterward by spraying the pumpkin with a light mist of varnish; allow the pumpkin to dry completely.)

5. With wire cutters, cut three lengths of heavy-gauge wire. Push one end of each wire into a plastic bat and insert each wired bat into the pumpkin's exterior.

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