Another reason we love etched pumpkins: their long lives on the porch! Etched pumpkins tend to last longer than their carved relatives, likely because there are no deep cuts from which moisture can escape. All the same, we smear a thin layer of petroleum jelly on our pumpkin's etched surfaces and cleaned-out interior to maximize its moisture retention.
1. Sign in to BHG.com to download and print our free cattails stencil pattern. Place the pattern against the side of your cleaned-out pumpkin and affix it with tape, flattening and smoothing the paper as you tape it down.
2. Reproduce the pattern onto your pumpkin by piercing along the pattern lines with a pin tool or large nail. Keep your pin holes close together, ideally spacing them about 1/8 inch apart. Pull off the printed pattern once you've transferred all lines to the pumpkin.
3. Review the pattern to find areas surrounded by dotted lines. Etch these areas on your pumpkin with a linoleum-cutter or gouge. To etch, shave down the pumpkin's top layer of skin with your etching tool -- being careful not to puncture through the pumpkin wall. (Hint: To check your progress, shine a small flashlight through the wall of the pumpkin; this will help you determine how much light can penetrate and whether you wish to etch a section more deeply.)
4. After you've etched all pattern sections, illuminate your cattail design by placing a bright battery-operated candle inside the pumpkin.