Pumpkins are one of the keenest things to decorate, a perfect canvas for ghoulish faces, scary scenes or a pair of skeletal dogs modeled after Sawyer and Phoebe.

Phoebe and Sawyer/Art and photo by Ryn Gargulinski

Phoebe and Sawyer/Art and photo Ryn Gargulinski

Follow some easy tips to get your pumpkin ready for our photo contest.


Avoid pumpkins that are mushy, stinky or have big slashes that ooze out innards. Opt for one that sounds like a wooden skull when you knock on it.

You can pick your pumpkins from an over-priced roadside stand or a run-of-the-mill supermarket where they cost about $5 each.

Supermarket pumpkins should be taken through the self=checkout, where the correct price code will invariably not be keyed into the system. This allows you to hold up the line while people behind you with a single half-gallon of milk shuffle their feet and sigh loudly.

Sawyer liked Phoebe's pumpkin enough to eat/Art and photo Ryn Gargulinski

Sawyer says Phoebe's pumpkin was good enough to eat/Art and photo Ryn Gargulinski


Even though paint can stick to your thigh for weeks on end, it’s still less messy than the carving. Painters tape is helpful to keep the paint where you want it. Either make a border around the eyes, nose, mouth and hair or do a “reverse negative” effect like I did with the Sawyer and Phoebe pumpkins.

Spray paint is a good choice, or you can use paint markers or those large graffiti markers that make your head spin when you sniff them.

Spray with sealer to deter dogs.


Before you even think of carving a pumpkin, you need to properly prepare. Thoroughly mop, scour and disinfect the floor and general area where you’ll be working, then cover it with an inadequate amount of newspaper. This way you can fret and swear when the pumpkin guts spew all over and ruin everything you just cleaned.

AZMouse's infamous Sarah Palin pumpkin and two others/submitted photo

AZMouse's infamous Sarah Palin pumpkin and two others/submitted photo

Get yourself one of those chintzy Pumpkin Carving Kits with little blades and cheap plastic handles so you can swear some more when they break.

Draw your design with pencil on the pumpkin so you can erase any remaining lines. Then carve away.

Begin by cutting a circle around the stem so you can scoop out the innards. Painstakingly clean all the stringy guts off the seeds then bake the seeds on a cookie sheet for some fine snacks. Swear some more when no one wants to eat them because you burnt them to high heaven and forgot to add salt.

Finish off your carving by carefully cutting along those pencil lines you drew. Throw everything into a compost heap – except your finished pumpkin – then display proudly on the porch until someone runs off with it to smash it in the middle of the street.

Happy Halloween.

Phoebe refrained from eating the pumpkins. Good girl./Art and photo Ryn Gargulinski

Phoebe refrained from eating the pumpkins. Good girl./Art and photo Ryn Gargulinski

Pumpkin decorating contest

Send us your pumpkin pictures for our decorating contest. All types of pumpkin art welcome. Entries will be showcased on Rynski’s Blogski. Please e-mail to rynski@tucsoncitizen.com

Photos must be received by Saturday, Oct. 31 – Halloweeeeeen!

Winner gets a lifetime supply of burnt, unsalted pumpkin seeds or Rynart, whichever Sawyer says.


What’s the worse pumpkin decorating experience you ever had? The best?

Are you into smashing pumpkins? Shame on you.