Have I ever mentioned how much I enjoy carving pumpkins and such? Well, I do. It’s my thing. I love to rock a face out of an orange orb, yes indeed.
In years past, I’ve been commissioned to make some jack-o-lanterns for the likes of hotel or two here in Montreal, but as All Hallow’s Eve falls mid-week this year, bar-and-lobby decorations are less necessary – it’s hard to feel festive so many days in advance, and the fete is totally over come November 1st. I’m not sad about it, though. I feel a bit tired these days, and don’t need to feel pressured to turn out eight… ten… twelve pumpkins on one day. (That’s frickin’ hard, yo. For realz.)
However this past weekend I was asked if I might donate a few as decorations for a fundraiser even held at a community centre we use, for their Room to Read effort – of course I was happy to oblige them. After all, I LOVE to do it…. and obviously, three is less than eight, ten, or twelve. I had the organisers send over three pumpkins in advance.
I learn new things every year when this comes around. What I learned this year? I should have selected them myself.
And in considering what seems obvious to me, I will no impart some words of wisdom about orb selection and extreme pumpkin-ing. I have TIPS FOR YOU!
1. Choose firm, shiny pumpkins as unblemished as possible. If they’ve got weak spots on the outside, they’re rotting within – there’s a good chance once you open it, there will be soup inside it (yuck) and your creation will likely cave in before you’re even finished carving it, and that will just make you start swearing in front of the children… this is bad. (Also? Your jack-o-lantern won’t last for many days, if you care.)
2. Odd shaped, gnarly looking pumpkins are great for some creations, and for propping doors open with, but if you’re using stencils, try to get one as uniform as possible. And don’t opt for the ground-growing side (the flat side) since stencils are created with the curve of the pumpkin taken into consideration. If you carve a completely flat surface, your picture is going to look weird. If there are blemish scars all over your pumpkin, they won’t impede the actual design, nor will they show in the dark, so don’t fret if your “best” side” is the scaly brownish side. (Still… just find a better one, okay?)
3. Again, if you’re using a stencil, choose a pumpkin that is taller than it is wide. Short, fat pumpkins are super adorable, but can’t always fit the entire scope of your image. That just leads to more swearing. Give it a good sponge bath before you get cutting, and dry it well. This helps inhibit mould.
4. Don’t make the scoop-out hole in the top any larger than you have to – this leaves you more room for the image. You’ll just be super pissed if the image you selected doesn’t fit onto your orb, and the bad words might come tripping off your tongue like a muther.
5. When cleaning your pumpkin, scrape the inside very well – super-thick walls are hard as hell to cut through, and you might not even realise you’ve not made cuts all the way through until you notice you can’t punch the cut pieces out, and you’ll have to re-cut the whole thing. Plus, all the little stringy bits show when you light the orb. That’s bad, and leads to drunken-sailor swearing.
So, you’re ready to carve now. My last bits of advice are to prick the image ahead of time, and not just carve outright – it’s MUCH easier on the hands, since the sawing motion in less extreme. Cut the smallest bits first, in the centre of the image, and work out way out. Resist the urge to punch out all the the bits before you get to the end, if you can – it’s just a vegetable, you know – the think isn’t super stable. (If you break it? You will swear.) And for goodness sake, GO SLOW!
And if you’re going to rock your pumpkins a few days before the holiday, help preserve them by using your fingers to smear some Vaseline into the cut nooks and crannies (it’s a rude sensation and this might make you giggle – heh) and along the cut parts and on the face, and then drape it with plastic wrap at night, and store it in a cool place. Like, just inside your doorway, or in your garage – but AWAY from the rogue squirrels that will EAT the FACE off your Batman, or your Sponge Bob. This only leads to lots more swearing, and probably tears.
I’ll show you what I made shortly… but you can check out last year’s here, if you’re interested.
Got pumpkins? Carved any yet?!