Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pumpkin Carving Adventures

Back when I was a little kid, my family had a tradition every Halloween: we used to go to one of those pumpkin farms with the hay rides and petting zoos, pick our pumpkins straight from the patch, and then carve whatever kinds of faces on them we could imagine. As my siblings and I got older, though, the tradition was slowly phased out due to lack of interest.

The last time I carved a pumpkin was in 2006. At 21, I no longer had the excuse of being a little kid; it was something I did out of boredom or nostalgia or something. And I didn't really plan out a pattern ahead of time -- I just got a knife from the kitchen and started stabbing at it. Not unexpectedly, the result was rather crappy:

(This was taken before I got into digital photography in any serious way, so the photo is also pretty crappy.)

Anyway, this year I decided to carve a pumpkin again, and resolved to put a bit more effort into it this time. I procured a pumpkin from the grocery store for $2.00, and it sat decorating a shelf in our apartment for a week or two while I procrastinated and contemplated what to carve on it. On the night before Halloween, I settled on the pretty standard "grinning spooky face" I had been leaning toward and got to work.

Perhaps having learned something from my previous attempt, I suspected that a regular kitchen knife probably wasn't the best tool for the job. Instead, I ended up using these:

I was a little uncertain at first whether my $1.00 was well spent here. The little saw looked flimsy, but I was surprised by how easily (and maneuverably) it cut through the surface of the pumpkin. And the scoop thing was just the right shape and size for scraping out all that disgusting pumpkin goo. (If you're looking for something similar, pumpkin carving tool sets like these seem to materialize around this time of year in just about every store that offers costumes, candy, and related Halloween paraphernalia.)

When I was a kid, hollowing out the pumpkin was always my least favorite part -- all that sticky, stringy messiness had to be cleared away before you could get to the pumpkin-carving fun. But with the aid of the above mentioned scoop thing, it actually seemed fast and easy this time around, and the pumpkin was ready in no time.

I got the pattern on the pumpkin by lightly sketching it with an erasable marker. I don't have any other in-between shots, but here's what the finished Jack-O-Lantern looked like lit from the inside:

Overall, I think it's a huge improvement over my previous attempt, although I realize I'm still a complete amateur when it comes to pumpkin carving. (Especially compared to seasoned pros who go around carving crazy-elaborate stuff like the Death Star into pumpkins.)

Maybe I'll try something a little more complex next year.

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