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A jack-o’-lantern (sometimes also spelled Jack O’Lantern) is typically a carved pumpkin. It is associated chiefly with the holiday Halloween, and was named after the phenomenon of strange light flickering over peat bogs, called ignis fatuus or jack-o’-lantern. In a jack o lantern, typically the top is cut off, and the inside flesh then scooped out; an image, usually a monstrous face, is carved onto the outside surface, and the lid replaced. At night a light is placed inside to illuminate the effect. The term is not particularly common outside North America, although the practice of carving lanterns for Halloween is.
Pumpkin carving is getting more popular with each passing year. That’s a clear cut fact. Less than a generation ago, triangle-eyed jack-o-lanterns dominated porches on All Hallow’s Eve. But these days, all sorts of elaborate designs are being attempted in pumpkin flesh.
From intricate cut-out patterns, to multi-level shading, to outright 3D sculptures you might expect to find in a museum art exhibit.
Sculpture by Ray Villafane
To make the craft more accessible to the masses, there are many new tools hitting the market each year. Dulled saws for children are safe enough to not draw blood. While the more aggressive adults have access to tempered carbon steel, multi-watt, electrically-heated, high-powered mechanisms of mayhem.