Pumpkin Time

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Pumpkin Time

Fall is in the air and it’s time to think about carving.  But before you get to the Thanksgiving turkey, you need to carve the most amazing Halloween pumpkin on your block.  Here are some ideas to help take your pumpkin to the next level.

You can either start with a design and find a pumpkin that fits or instead look for an intriguing pumpkin shape that will dictate the final result.  Michelangelo once said, “I saw an angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”   Just remember that your design will be the negative of your image; whatever you cut away will be illuminated.

If you really want to be radical you might try relief carving.  You can remove layers of skin and pulp to make a three dimensional face.  The light will shine through, although it won’t be as bright.

Actually there are four color possibilities you can incorporate;

  • Where you cut through, the light will shine clearly
  • Remove only skin and the area will be light orange
  • Leave the skin and remove the pulp from behind and it will be dark orange
  • Where nothing is removed it will look black

Don’t be afraid to think outside the squash.  You can save pumpkin pieces to stick back on with toothpicks – think ears, lips, horns or whatever.   And you might save some of the gutted seeds and pulp and let them hang out of your creation’s mouth for a festive look.

For the carving you certainly will want to gather the traditional carving tools; knives, picks, saws, etc.  You can even break out regular wood carving tools if you have them.  But have you ever thought about using power tools?   A jigsaw or a sawzall will make short work of those big cuts and they cut corners very precisely.   Need a round hole?  It’s hard to beat the speed and precision of a drill.  A Dremel or other rotary tool is great for relief carving and will let you quickly remove material.

WARNING: Carving pumpkins with power tools is significantly more dangerous.  They send pumpkin flying and are far messier than hand tools. If you use power tools to carve your pumpkin wear safety glasses and be sure everyone stays back from the work area.  You also might want to practice on a test pumpkin to get a feel for how the tools cut and be sure you have control.

Once your masterpiece is finished, be sure to make it last.  Before setting it out on the step, soak it in water with a little bleach.  The pumpkin will absorb the water and become very firm and the bleach will help prevent mold.   Finally, coat the cut edges with petroleum jelly or cooking oil to seal the moisture in.

Whether you get your inspiration from books and magazines or the deepest recesses of your imagination, grab a pumpkin and release your inner Michelangelo.

Then light it up and wait for the oohs and aahs!

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