PDP Exclusives by Rebecca

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Pumpkin Carving by Wenchkin. Part Two

Wenchkin really is our resident pumpkin carving guru. She has created quite a stir over on Google+ with her amazing and intricate designs. People are really starting to take notice of her amazing technique, and attention to detail. Last week, she showed us how to transfer an image to the pumpkin, and how to create a safe, no-cut way to decorate our orange gourds. This week, SHE CUTS!!

Welcome back everyone joining me, this week I am going to go over how I carve a pumpkin. As with any of my how to blogs there is always more then one way to accomplish something and my way may not be the best for you, it is just what works best for me.

If you missed last week's post I went over painting pumpkins instead of carving them or as an alternative to if you just really want to have a pumpkin on your porch now that will not be rotten come Halloween. You can find that post here.

To touch back on it I am going to carve the pumpkin I painted last week, in that piece I also discuss an alternate way to transfer your pattern other then the sloppy hole poke connect the dots method suggested by pumpkin masters.

What I forgot to mention...picking a pumpkin!

Never buy one without a stem, for some reason they live longer with it, kind of like vine ripened tomatoes. I usually figure out what I am going to carve BEFORE I pick a pumpkin so I know about what size surface I am looking for. Small scratches in my opinion are OK and I usually try to work them into parts I cut our but avoid any gouges or soft spots. I buy ones about the size of my head, smallish because they are easier for me to manipulate and I usually rest it on my lap while I carve.

Mini pumpkins, I will come back to these way later but mine were bought out of the produce section, NOT the Halloween section. What you commonly find sold as mini pumpkins are ornamental. They have already been dried out and are uncarveable. You can paint on them but they are rather hard gourds. If you do not know the difference pick one up and knock on it, it should not sound hollow or wood like.

This part of my blog is going to be about as far from kid safe as it gets. If you want to carve with your kids, get them the kid safe tools commonly sold at the grocery store this time of year. People most often ask HOW I carve to get the results I do which is what this section is going to go over.


When I sit down to carve a pumpkin I assemble very few things:
  • A towel, to place over my lap
  • A bandaid, not because I cut myself just because I use it to add extra padding to my thumb for
  • An x-acto  knife, which is not always the most comfortable tool after working with it a few hours. 
  • Trash can, for obvious reason.

First off I NEVER gut my pumpkins till the day before halloween assuring they won't rot too fast. What I am going to do is trick the pumpkin into thinking it has not been damaged by removing mostly just the skin then sealing it.

So picking up where I left off last week I have my pumpkin with the pattern painted on it.

This shows why I bandaid my thumb, sometimes it slides over the back of the blade which is not sharp but not comfortable.

I start by sticking the blade on only as far as I need to to remove the skin and I do not stick the blade in straight down, I do it at an angle as to only remove the skin. So I follow and slowly cut the line on one side halfway deep into the black outline (from last week's tutorial).

Then I flip it over and mirror my actions on the other side

and pop the piece out and trash it

Things like the curves in the "S" I try to do as one consistent, conical cut and at this stage I am not worried about things like the little bits of black still left over that I missed. I just shoot for removing the majority of the black markings first (or skin as it may be if you are just carving without painting before hand). Leaving me with this:

Now I am going to go back in and go over the whole thing slowly and fix and punch out my lines and build it up a little. To do this I do finally stick the knife straight down on just about a quarter of an inch and retrace all my lines like this:

After I finish this I make an opposing cut at a 45 degree angle from the cut I just made removing some of the pulp to help punch the letters out a bit more

After I am happy I have a little bit of depth if I see parts I think need smoothed I simply flip the knife over and use the butt end to smooth out any areas that might look a little rough

Then I take it over to the sink and give it a good wash to help me remove any left over paint and just kind of clean it up.

I pat it dry and give it a good coat of clear coat insde of the cuts to kinda try to trick it into thinking it is skin and I am done

This is not the greatest design ever, but I free hand most of my pumpkin designs. You can see more of my pumpkin designs here.

I will be back next week for one more final round of tips, tricks, and more pumpkin ideas as well as all the links I have for patterns.

Wenchkin is the amazing artist behind Wenchcraft, the Art of Wenchkin. You can find her on Google+, on Facebook, or you can shop her ArtFire shop! She currently resides in Albuquerque with artist Scott Krichau, and her tripod Jack Russell "P."

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