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Want that Martha Stewart effect? Break out the power tools
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Rene Hubal, sister of Flowery Branch City Clerk Melissa McCain, sits with some Funkins she carved. Each year, Hubal enters the Pumpkin Masters pumpkin carving contest. This year, she won the grand prize.


Rene Hubal explains how she draws her designs onto her pumpkins.

It just wouldn't be Halloween without some carved pumpkins for Rene Hubal.

Hubal, twin sister of Flowery Branch City Clerk Melissa McCain, has won numerous awards throughout the years in the Pumpkin Masters pumpkin carving contest. This year, she won the grand prize with her carving, "There's No Business Like Crow Business," with an illuminated pumpkin sporting a spooky scarecrow, intricately carved clouds and a translucent moon in the background.

This year, Hubal's yard in Mount Pulaski, Ill., will have an elaborate scene featuring the headless horseman, a flaming pumpkin head and about 10 scattered, lit pumpkins around him.

"I built that in the garage; it took me about a week to do. I can't wait for Halloween so we put this thing up," she said, adding that the house's decor will include dozens of real and fake pumpkins she's carved.

Some of the pumpkins are actually Funkins, which can be found at craft stores like Hobby Lobby or Jo-Ann Fabrics. The Funkins can be used year after year, and each year Hubal adds more designs to her collection.

"I start out with an idea and I put it down on paper, and I make a pattern," she said. She keeps the designs black, white and gray; the black areas on the designs are places where the pumpkin is cut out, the white is solid pumpkin and shaded areas are places where the pumpkin is etched, or just the skin is taken off the pumpkin.

"Now, with a real pumpkin I usually use like a little poker and I follow the pattern around, poking holes till it breaks through on the pumpkin. When you take the pattern off you have a dot-to-dot effect," she said. "On the artificial pumpkins I have tried lately to take a pencil and draw over the design hard. And it indents in the pumpkin and it's great - when I take the pattern off and look at the pumpkin, there's an outline of what's already on the pumpkin."

For her carving tools, Hubal has a few special tricks. She does most of her carving with tools made by Pumpkin Masters, which are mainly small saw blades with handles. To take the top off the pumpkin she uses a regular old kitchen knife, and to scoop out the pumpkin's insides she relies on a large spoon (she will scrape the sides down to about 1 inch in thickness).

But there is one tool she uses to help with the intricate designs: A rotary tool.

"The Funkin, it's like a sawdust material; once you start cutting it's like sawdust," she said, adding that this will be the first year she attempts to cut a real pumpkin with a rotary tool.

I've never tried it on a real one. I'm going to try it this year - a Dremel on a real pumpkin. I'm sure it's going to make a mess."