Streeter Seidell explained the history of the pumpkin made into a Halloween Jack-O-Lantern yesterday in 7 Burning Halloween Questions: Answered! Once it became a tradition, the carving of the pumpkin has evolved into an art form, and in many places, a competition. Everyone knows who the best pumpkin carver in your neighborhood is. Many communities have pumpkin carving contests. And on the internet, all you have to do is post a picture and your jack-o-lantern will be judged and compared to the best in the world. Here are some of them.
Ray Villafane is a master of pumpkin carving. This Predator pumpkin shows off his 3D technique. You'll also find intricately-detailed cartoonish faces of all kinds on his site, as well as a tutorial on how to make your own 3D Jack-O-Lantern!
Noel Dickover carves designs from science fiction and fantasy. One of his more popular designs is the Death Star Jack-O-Lantern, which he carved into a 120 pound pumpkin over a period of nine hours in 2006. Dickover's website Fantasy Pumpkins has a tutorial on carving the Death Star, and patterns you can use for many other icons and characters.
Tom Nardone does Extreme Pumpkins, a site that will fire your imagination beyond Jack-O-Lanterns with traditional smiles. There, you'll find flaming pumpkins, drowning pumpkins, puking pumpkins, mooning pumpkins, conjoined twin pumpkins, cannibal pumpkins, radioactive pumpkins, and pumpkins that have been wounded by guns, axes, and other implements of destruction. Extreme Pumpkins has a pumpkin carving contest every year.
The Toothy Look
Nathan Wesling of Pumpkin Way tends to emphasize teeth in his pumpkin carvings. He posts his carved Jack-O-Lanterns for ecards, wallpapers, and screen savers.
World of Warcraft
Last year, World of Warcraft sponsored a pumpkin carving contest that attracted quite a few wonderful designs. This geeky Jack-O-Lantern by Keeff stood out among the game characters.
Yes We Carve
With a presidential election so soon after Halloween, it was inevitable that Jack-O-Lanterns are used to display the carver's political leanings. This "Barack O'Lantern" by Scott Gierman of Marion, Illinois is one of many featured at Yes We Carve.
Pumpkin Artists for Hire
You don't have to be talented, or even experienced, to have an expertly-carved Jack-O-Lantern. Masterpiece Pumpkins is a professional pumpkin carving service to do it for you! They will carve or etch a design onto either a pumpkin or watermelon, including your own portrait if you like, or they can come and give a pumpkin carving demonstration.
From Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories comes a Jack-O-Lantern wired to snap its teeth open and shut! The Snap-O-Lantern has a hinged jaw controlled by a tiny servo motor. Instructions for making your own are included, plus a video.
If you want to keep your pumpkin intact for cooking, or if you just don't like carving, painting your pumpkin may be the way to go. Tagyerit Presents Painted Pumpkins has a large collection of submitted painted pumpkins from all over. Terri Matschilles painted this pumpkin for her daughter's kindergarten class in Munich.
If you'd like to try some art Jack-O-Lanterns, there are plenty of web resources to help you out. First, some basic carving tips. Here are instructions for adapting a photograph into a pumpkin-carving design. The Pumpkin Wizard offers free carving patterns and a forum for carvers.