Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tutorial Tuesday: How to carve a Pumpkin

Last Tuesday, J, Cutie Face and I went pumpkin pickin' at Whole Foods. It was great and all their giant carving pumpkins were only $4. Cutie Face loved waking up every morning and greeting the pumpkin with a kiss. It was cute.

A few days ago, I noticed this weird odor. I really thought it was a stagnant smell since we had recently closed our windows due to the "cold" snap in Atlanta. I wrote it off as that and never thought about it again.

..until it came time for me to work on my Tutorial Tuesday last night...

I went over to the Pumpkin that Cutie Face had been kissing all week and touched the top. COMPLETELY SOFT. Disgustingly soft. Like ROTTEN soft.

Well, that at least explained the smell. At least it wasn't us!

I quickly took the rotten giant squash and deposited it in our apartment hallway (maybe not a great move since this morning our whole apartment now smells of rotted pumpkin flesh). Take a look at what one hour of sitting in the hallway did to the pumpkin--its top completely caved in--SICK

Sadly, though, this meant that there was no large pumpkin to carve for y'all...but there was the pie pumpkin that Cutie Face received from the blabla party. So, i thought, why not? it is essentially the same, just smaller proportions and thicker flesh.

ehh, true...but not at all the same level of ease!

I sheepishly admit that i gave up halfway through. BUT I'm here to still give you the essentials of carving a GREAT pumpkin. I really love carving pumpkins and making new designs so here are some tips!

1) Find a pattern that you like or create your own...i've made lots of different patterns in the past. These are some important tips to remember when creating your own:
  • Whatever you carve out of your pumpkin will be illuminated. (yes, this is obvious)
  • You can carve your pumpkin to have up to 4 tones of color: black (the pumpkin skin+flesh--nothing carved), white/yellow (the inner pumpkin, illuminated by the candle/light), light orange (where you scrape the pumpkin skin and the pumpkin flesh so that a thin layer remains), dark orange (where you leave more skin and flesh intact but still scrape away some so that light shines through)
  • Your patterns will always be the negative of the image you're trying to produce. This is why i take an image and immediately turn it into black and white and then make it a negative--you can do this with any photo editing tool. I used picnik.
  • ALL pattern shapes must be connected to the edge of the pumpkin, or, obviously, they will be disconnected and fall in the pumpkin!

2) THEN find a pumpkin that fits that pattern.

We bought our BIG rotten pumpkin for the purpose of a specific pattern but this pie pumpkin definitely wasn't cut out to do the same.

which is why i had to cut the pattern apart and space it to fit on the pie pumpkin, like so:

3) Once you have your pumpkin, give it a good scrub on the outside so that it is clean.

4) Now you need an opening in the pumpkin to scrape out the innards. I like to create the opening on the bottom of the pumpkin so it looks clean up top. In order to cut out a hole, i draw a pumpkin shape--the little lip/stem helps you realign the two pieces properly once you are finished

5) Cut out the hole with a knife--i think serrated edges work the best. Also, make sure that you pierce the knife all the way into the inside of the pumpkin so that it is easier to pull out the section when finished. (Note--all cutting and uses of knives are ADULT-ONLY parts of the tutorial!)

6) Use the knife as a lever to remove the cut-out section

revealing yummy pepitas!

7) Pull out all the seeds and then start scraping the flesh. I like to concentrate on the side where the pattern will be--no need to hollow out the pumpkin where you aren't carving!

KEEP SCRAPING. Pie pumpkins have lots of flesh (which is why they are good for making pies!) but you have to scrape the wall of the pumpkin to death before it is easy enough to carve!

8) Once you are finished scraping the flesh, clean up the pumpkin again (outside and inside) so that you can get ready to carve it!

9) Securely place your pattern on the pumpkin--make sure that you strategically place the pins on the pattern--you don't want superfluous pin marks! Clearly, this tutorial was doomed because I didn't have anything to hold the pattern in place except for safety pins! Ahhhhhh. I think that sewing pins or even tacks work well.

I removed the monkeys since they'd get in the way but you probably won't have to do this if you pick the proper pumpkin for the pattern!

10) Prick the edges of the pattern that you will be cutting out with a sharp pin.

Continue "pinning" until you have the pattern outlined

11) Now for another ADULT ONLY part of the tutorial--using a sharp utensil, cut out the pattern you just traced with your pin (if you have a delicate pattern or a small needle point, feel free to outline the pattern with a washable pen or pencil...like i had to do!)

12) i managed to accomplish the cutting of the "monkeys" but then J came home around 10:30, found that i had been working on this lovely project since 7:30 and ordered me to stop.

He was wise.

With a larger pumpkin (and, thus, a larger pattern), this carving session would not have been as difficult. I fully believe in your capabilities and hope you have fun carving your Halloween pumpkin this week!

6 people think...:

Natalie said...

We will be carving our pumpkins in the very near future. Thanks for the advice about cutting the pumkin at the bottom {never heard that before} I may just give it a try this year and see how that works for us. Only question about it is how do you keep the stem out of the way while you are cutting and cleaning it without damaging it?

Anonymous said...

hi, i really enjoy your blog and the tutorial tuesdays. I was wondering how you changed the font of each posts title?

Felicia said...

What a great idea!!!! First of all.. I don't blame you for giving up on the smushy pumpking.. and definitely.. STOP working if you started at 7:30!! LOL! Bless your heart!

Miti said...

Thanks. I needed this Tut. We bought a pumpkin a couple of weeks ago and it's still sitting outside just waiting for a face. Hopefully it's not already past it's dooms day. LOL.

mel said...

thanks for stopping by my blog!I got the orange polka shirts at Target. $5! Can't beat that! Your blog is so cute! now following! this tutorial was great (besides your rotten pumpkin, bummer!) we have our annual neighborhood pumpkin carving extravaganza on friday night. i may just have to try a self made pattern!ph

Life with Kaishon said...

Do you know that we did not do pumpkin carving this year... Isn't that crazy? We might do it on Sunday. 1 day after Halloween. We are rule breakers like that!