Bleeding Heart Flower Pumpkin Stencil

You don't have to be a softie at heart to enjoy this floral pumpkin stencil. You just have to appreciate elegant heart-shaped petals, softly drooping stamens, and arching foliage. (OK, maybe that's the definition of a softie?)

Every gardener has certain indispensable tools, and pumpkin carvers are the same way. We regularly use two clay modeling tools while carving pumpkins: a trimming loop and a triangular-headed modeling tool. We use a large trimming loop to quickly and easily scrape the pumpkin's internal walls clean, and we use the triangular-headed modeling tool to smooth out jagged carving edges. Check art supply stores to find these tools.

To carve:

1. Tape the printed bleeding heart flower stencil against the side of a cleaned-and-scraped pumpkin.

2. With a large nail, outline the design by poking tightly spaced holes through the paper and into the pumpkin's skin. After transferring the entire design, detach the stencil.

3. Refer to the bleeding heart flower stencil to find areas surrounded by dotted lines. Etch these areas with a gouge or a sharp razor blade by removing slivers of pumpkin skin, revealing the rind below.

4. Refer to the stencil again to find areas surrounded by solid lines. Carve these areas with a sharp linoleum-cutting knife, sawing gently from hole to hole.

5. Press on carved sections to pop them out of position, revealing the design. Wipe carved edges with petroleum jelly, and light your pumpkin with a battery-operated candle, if desired.

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