Succulent, sweet and refreshing, watermelon is a favorite summer treat. These days, though, imported melons can turn up at anytime of the year. Fancy centerpieces carved like animals, serving bowls shaped like handbaskets and juicy red slices cut into watermelon roses; this versatile fruit lends itself to all sorts of artistic expression. Grab a sharp knife and impress your guests with a cool creation.

Cut a thin slice off the bottom of the melon so it will rest sturdily on a flat surface. Be careful not to get into the red flesh or it will leak. Cut two large 90-degree-angle wedges, one from each end of the melon, leaving a gap of a couple of inches in the middle. The gap in the middle will be the handle of the basket. Using a very sharp knife, cut out the half-moon shapes and remove the flesh from the inside the watermelon using a melon baller or a large spoon, depending upon how you want your watermelon pieces to look. Trim the excess meat from the basket; drain and fill with melon and other fruits.

The watermelon bowl is the simplest and yet still charming. Cut any watermelon in half and remove the flesh with a melon baller. Cut a thin slice from the bottom of each melon half for stability. With a small sharp paring knife, cut little triangles out of the edge of each half, all the way around, creating a zigzag pattern. Voila! Two watermelon bowls.

Tips

With bowls or baskets, cut a couple of small holes in the bottom of your creation on a deep platter so the excess juice can drain out and you don’t end up with watermelon soup.

Cut a seedless watermelon into 1-inch slices. Using a flower-shaped cookie cutter, cut out as many pieces as you can from each slice. Pierce the flowers about halfway through from the edge with sharp wooden kebab skewers. For an added touch of realism, brush the skewers with green food coloring and allow to dry before sticking them in the melon. Or, spear grapes and strawberries for a fanciful stem and top with the flower. Fill pretty vases with ice and arrange your watermelon flower bouquet.

Create a shark or a dinosaur by cutting a big wedge out of the end of an oblong melon and trimming back the edges about an inch so the white rind shows. Carve the rind into pointy teeth and secure a pair of dark grape eyeballs with toothpicks. Cut the other end on an angle so it looks as if the shark is jumping out of the water. To balance it, crunch up aluminum foil under his chin to imitate rough water. You can adapt this technique for dinosaurs by using slices of the piece you cut out of the mouth to create ridges on the head and over the eyes.