Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pumpkin Carving 101

Hello and happy autumn! Christine Johnson here today to chat about pumpkin carving. Huge disclaimer: Not only am I not an expert, I had never carved a pumpkin until preparing this blog post. My husband stared in astonishment when I told him this fact and promptly asked, "Where did you grow up? Russia?" Uh, no. I just remember my dad doing the carving. He probably realized that his accident-prone daughter shouldn't be wielding sharp knives.

So, now that I'm older and presumably less accident-prone (don't ask my hubbie on that one), I decided to head off on this new adventure. First, I selected a fine looking pumpkin that I could actually lift off the ground without hurting my back.

 
Next, I consulted the Internet for the how-to and found a site with free patterns, Pumpkin Carving Patterns, which seemed like a really good idea since that meant I wouldn't have to draw freehand. Since I'm a cat lover, I chose a kitty cat face. The pattern noted that a 10-year-old had successfully carved it. I figured if a 10-year-old could do it, maybe someone many years older could manage. Here's the pattern taped onto the pumpkin.
 
 
 
Note the sharp instruments I used to gut the pumpkin. With hubbie hovering near in case of disaster, I managed to get the top off and scrape out the seeds with a sharp-edged spoon. It's then that I discovered the pumpkin had really thick walls of 2 inches (or 5 centimeters). Yikes! That was a lot of pumpkin to cut through. Hubbie ooohed and aaahed over the thickness of the walls, saying we could make enough pie to feed 14 people. I'm not even sure if jack-o-lantern pumpkins can be used for pumpkin pie. Does anyone know?
 
 
Next I used a nail to punch through the paper to "transfer" the pattern to the pumpkin. Then I used a serrated steak knife and any other viable kitchen tool to cut out and remove the necessary pumpkin. After several hours of cutting and scraping, I managed to complete the project, just as darkness fell.
 
 
 
What a fun experience! My cat even enjoyed sniffing out this new creation in her world.
 
Now, how long will it last? What should I know about lighting it? I'd love to hear your pumpking carving stories and tips. What went well? What did you learn? What can you pass along to a newbie like me? What was your favorite design? And at what age did you let the kids pitch in? Let's chat. 



20 comments:

  1. Hi Christine,
    That's a really cute pumpkin you have there! You did a great job. I've never carved one. My husband has done it for our boys using pre-made patterns and tools you find at Walmart. We haven't gotten around to it this year, though. By the way, love the view from your window!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love it. Did you paint it, too. On my screen it looks like you did.
    The first pumpkin I remember carving was while I was a kindergarten teacher. It was one of those little ones, and it wasn't just one! I had 21 students who got to decorate but, of course, not cut.
    Now, my husband and son do the carving. We usually do two. One is daddy's and one is Mikey's and Daddy's.
    They don't last long. We don't carve until three before trick or treat.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Karen! One of my friends told me to get the carving tools, and it probably would have been a lot easier, but I didn't know if I'd enjoy the process enough to spend the money on tools. It was kind of fun, so maybe I'll go all out next year, like your husband does for your boys.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Pamela! No, no paint was involved. The parts that look reddish in the photo aren't cut all the way through. I was hoping the light would look reddish, which it did, but also those were such skinny cuts that I couldn't punch all the way through the thick shell without wrecking the rest of the design.

    Those pumpkins that the kindergartners decorated must have been precious. What a memory! I still have vivid memories of kindergarten craft projects. What did your students use to decorate their pumpkins?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Such a cute pumpkin! You did a wonderful job. We haven't carved pumpkins in a few years since our boys deemed they were too older...silly boys.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Lisa! How sad that kids outgrow fun traditions like carving pumpkins. Hopefully they'll pick it up again years from now when they have families of their own.

    ReplyDelete
  7. What a great job you did! It turned out really cute. I've never actually carved a pumpkin myself but you've inspired me to give it a try this year.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Very cute!!! We usually cut out two eyes and a mouth and call it a night!

    ReplyDelete
  9. christine you could say you grew up in Australia. We dont carve pumpkins although it may be better than eating them! I guess we have them in our autumn which is around easter going into winter.
    I do love the cat face.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Yay Winnie! I'm glad you're giving pumpkin carving a try. The best part is seeing the pumpkin lit up for the first time.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Lenora, two eyes and a mouth would have been my choice if I wasn't going to share the pictures with all of you. I'm glad I tried a something a little more complex. It got the creative juices flowing.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Jenny, you've piqued my curiosity. I wonder if carving pumpkins is strictly North American. Hmm. I'm off to research that.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Apparently Jack-O-Lanterns originated in Ireland centuries ago but were carved into potatoes and turnips or beets. Colonists brought the tradition to America and began to use pumpkins.

    See Pumpkin History

    ReplyDelete
  14. Australia never really celebrated Halloween either they do a little now but its following the Americans.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Christine, I missed this post. How fun!! I love your pumpkin!!! Great job.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thanks! It's still hanging in there. It's a little dried around the edges but looks good lit up at night. Maybe it'll last until Halloween!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Nice post! For beginners in pumpkin carving, patterns and stencils are truly helpful! Thanks for sharing these. I'd love to include this to my favorites.

    More power and keep posting
    Betty xxxx
    Pumpkin Carving Patterns

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thank you for stopping by, Betty. It was a lot of fun trying my hand at carving a pumpkin. It lasted a very long time. Or maybe I just didn't want to throw it away!

    Feel free to link to this post, if you wish.

    ReplyDelete