RUSS LENO, AN EVERETT-BASED mechanical designer, also happens to be one of America’s foremost pumpkin carvers. He’s knifed orange orbs into ghoulish faces for the likes of People magazine and Jay Leno (no relation) over the past three decades. You don’t need that much time to learn to whittle the perfect jack-o’-lantern—just use your imagination, and Leno’s expert tips.
- Choose a fresh pumpkin that doesn’t have any bruises. Handle it carefully and store it in a cool place.
- Use a serrated knife to slice a circle around the stem, cutting at an angle toward the center, to create a lid that can easily be lifted out. Remove the lid and scoop out the guts inside with a sharp-edged spoon.
- Sketch a face on a piece of paper. Making sure the surface of the pumpkin is dry, use transfer paper and outline your sketch onto the pumpkin or use a marking pen. (You can later use nail polish remover to wipe the markings off.) With the knife, cut your pattern with a gentle sawing action.