Monday, September 29, 2008

Pumpkin Carving

Have you started planning your costumes, parties and/or pumpkin carving? Heck, Halloween candy started showing up at stores the day after Labor Day, so what are you waiting for? Halloween is only a month away. No time to lose.

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I've loved carving pumpkins ever since I was a wee little lass, saving my lunch money to buy the biggest pumpkin I can find. Now that I don't have to scrounge for lunch money, I often splurge on multiple pumpkins to carve each year (4 was the most as my fingers cried in agony the next day).

For many years, I relied on Pumpkin Masters' templates and tools, as well as making my own templates. I've collected most of their pattern booklets up to about 3 years ago when I found Zombie Pumpkins! I still think that Pumpkin Masters are good for starters, especially kids. Also, they rate the templates easy to hard. The pattern booklets can also be found in many chain stores and local pumpkin patches.

But if you are a pumpkin carving enthusiast, you'll really enjoy the Zombie Pumpkins! patterns all created by Ryan, the Patch Master himself (disclaimer: I have no affiliation to nor do I receive any incentive from Zombie Pumpkins!). You can download a few freebies to try. The new Skrull pattern looks awesome and I would probably rate that for not-so beginner to an intermediate carver (some detailed cuts involved). But if you want access to all of Ryan's creations, you can choose from a variety of memberships (info here). From all the patterns you get, I think the membership fee is a graveyard bargain!

Once you get the hang of carving beyond the triangle eyes and jagged teeth jack-o-lanterns, you find that your household knife won't give you some of the ease and precision cutting you'll need. I highly recommend purchasing some kind of carving tool set to make it faster and more enjoyable. I have a wood carving set that I purchased years ago but there are better sets now (like the one on Zombie Pumpkins!) more tailored for pumpkin carving. This year, I purchased the pumpkin gutter and can't wait to use it! Gutting the pumpkin, IMHO, is the most tedious and annoying part. So with the new gadget, and with some help from the Mister, I should be able to breeze through the annoying part quickly. Hey, it might even make gutting the pumpkins fun.

You can find some very valuable information on the Zombie Pumpkins! forum. You don't need to pay to read the forum posts but you will need register if you want to post. There are also other sites you will find if you google pumpkin carving. But most sites will charge you for downloading/printing patterns.

Here are some of the pumpkins we've carved in the past. Most of these were fairly easy. The ghost (Oogie Boogie 2) on the left in the last picture was the one I chose for the Mister to do last year as his first pumpkin. He enjoyed it (minus the gutting part) and will be carving another one this year! I have a few in mind but you'll just have to wait and see which ones.


KirkK said...

Hi CAB - Considering that I have problems drawing stick-people, this stuff looks like Van Gogh!

Barefoot Plumies said...

Hey Kirk! Stick figures is the Mister's forte. So if he can do it, you can too. I think that's the coolest part about these patterns, looks hard but really isn't. And there are "finger safe" tools now so anyone can carve like a pro.

As a point of reference, it took the Mister about 15 minutes to carve Oogie Boogie. All the other ones took me anywhere from 15 - 45 minutes. But I'm a bit OCD so I have a tendency to spend more time than needed to get a smoother "glow."