Wednesday, October 26, 2011

These are the pumpkins you're looking for.

Have I mentioned how much I love Halloween? I love Halloween. It might be my very favorite holiday. I love to dress up, always have, so a holiday devoted to dressing up and getting candy? What’s not to love?

So, yesterday I took the evening off from spinning, knitting, or going to the gym, to indulge in one of my all time favorite crafts. Pumpkin Carving!

Growing up I carved pumpkins with my family. And as the years went on the designs got more and more elaborate. We’d buy the Pumpkin Masters book and look and try the hard ones in the back. And then I went off to college and didn’t carve pumpkins for a few years, and I missed it. Since college I try to carve at least one pumpkin (if not more) for Halloween.

I carved one at a party a week or so ago. I’d show you, but it’s gone all black and fuzzy. I almost always carve pumpkins too soon for them to last till the great night of candy. So when DH asked if I wanted to carve a pumpkin for his work I jumped on the chance.

Set up:

Pumpkin guts are messy, so if you are going to do your carving inside, I highly recommend getting something to cover the floor. This year for easier clean up we took a large garbage bag, cut open, and laid it out. Previously I had used cardboard, but I think the garbage bag offered more coverage if less padding. To keep from sticking to the bag I put an old paper bag on the spot I was going to sit, and for comfort I put a pillow under the garbage bag. It worked like a charm, and I’m keeping this set up in the act.

The tools:

I have a favorite scraping spoon. It may, or may not, have been liberated from an old dorm cafeteria, but there is no way I’d ever give it back. It fits comfortably in most pumpkins and really digs into the insides so you can make the walls thinner. I used to only use the pumpkin kit tools. You know the ones - they’ve got black or orange handles, and there are different lengths of saws and things to poke holes and the like. They are great for your basic black and white pumpkin pattern. But one year I tried to do a complicated version of the Tardis and I gave up halfway through because I couldn’t make the cuts small enough.

Enter the woodcarving tools! These are great! And sharp! And I cut myself last year! More than once! With these a whole world of carving opens up. I got mine at a wood working shop here in Austin, but I’ve seen the exact same set sold on the Pumpkin Wizard website. I’ve also seen clay carving tools being sold for pumpkin carving and I think I may have to go get some. They are mostly used on the inside so you can get an even wall. When you are removing the skin but not cutting all the way through, you want an even thickness on the pumpkin wall because that way the same amount of light shines through. If it’s uneven you end up getting weird shadows.

My walls aren’t as even as they could be, but that’s not important because the pattern I picked out is plan black and white. No real scrapping required.

You attach the pattern to the front of the pumpkin. I get the paper just a bit damp, so it conforms to the pumpkin, and then tape it down. If you are old school, like I am, you poke holes through the pattern into the pumpkin to transfer the pattern. On that same pumpkin website there was transfer paper for sale. I may go new-school next year; I haven’t decided. Doing all the dots is a pain if you are in a hurry to carve, but if in no hurry it’s kind of relaxing. Maybe that’s just me.

You start at the center and work your way out. This isn’t as important for this particular pattern, but for intricate work you want as much stability as you can keep as you work your way out.

It may not look like much when it’s in the light.

But I think it’s pretty cool when it’s lit up.

I’ve found a tutorial on how to do the death star pumpkin. I am seriously considering doing one this year. I just need to find a very round pumpkin, and have 4 to 10 hours to spend carving it.


Erin said...

THAT IS AWESOME! The pumpkin turned out great!

You are definitely the pumpkin carving expert. I'm also super jealous of your woodcarving tools, but not for pumpkin usage. I'd just use them for random things... like carving cheese. ;)

I still haven't carved a pumpkin yet this year. I def need to get on that.

MaryAnne said...

I'm impressed.

I haven't carved a pumpkin since maybe 9th grade? Maybe next year...