Monday, October 31, 2011

Pumpkins and Power Tools

I apologize for putting this up just as Halloween is ending, but I have been much busier than I anticipated. So maybe keep this in mind for next year...

Our day of pumpkin carving began like this:
Brad - "Do you think we can do it?" (for like the millionth time)
Rachael - "Yes, I think we can do it, or I wouldn't have suggested it!"

Maybe I have an inflated perception of what I think I can accomplish, but when it comes to DIY projects, I generally believe that I can find a way to make almost whatever I want. So, when I saw a picture of a Blackhawks pumpkin on Facebook and showed it to Brad, I knew that it was going to be a project we needed to take on (despite his initial doubts).

I have carved pumpkins in the past, but my experience before this weekend was limited to using a kit and pre-made stencils. Which meant that before we could get started, I needed to do a little research. I had never carved a pumpkin where I didn't cut all the way through to the middle so I googled "how to shave a pumpkin" and found this very helpful link. Also while we were researching, we found a video that mentioned using drill bits to carve out big circles from a pumpkin. Well as soon as Brad saw that idea (there is just something about power tools that guys can't resist I guess), he was sold and suddenly we were going to be carving... or I guess drilling two pumpkins.

A trip to Hobby Lobby later, and we were ready to get started. While I was working on the Blackhawks design, Brad drilled holes into his "disco pumpkin." I had never thought to use power tools on a pumpkin before but it actually made the carving process much faster and easier. For the disco pumpkin, Brad picked the size bit for the holes he wanted and went to town drilling into it. It maybe took him 15 minutes tops... but back to my pumpkin.

I did not have a stencil for the Blackhawks logo, so we printed a picture of the logo which I used as a template. I had to cut and fold the picture some to get it to fit around the curve of the pumpkin just right and then I taped down the design. After I had the picture secured, I used a metal poker that was included as part of the clay carving kit we bought to poke holes along the main lines in the design. Next, I outlined the area I planned to shave out with a pen to distinguish it from the lines I planned to cut all the way through. And then came the hard part.

Because we printed off the logo, the size of our design was limited to the size of the paper. If it had been an option, I would have definitely picked an expanded version on a larger pumpkin because suddenly I had a lot of tiny lines I needed to remove from a small space. At this point I was worried about the integrity of the pumpkin and if I could accomplish this design without destroying it. After trying to carve out the first few lines with my serrated exacto knife blade (you can use an exacto knife with a saw blade, or just stick to the serrated knife included with most pumpkin carving kits), I began wondering if I had bit off more than I could chew. This pumpkin was not only making me feel like I was developing carpal tunnel, but it was taking FOREVER! Just as I was starting to get really frustrated, in came the boy with his power tools to save the day.

Instead of using a typical pumpkin carving process of sawing out the sections we wanted to remove, we adopted a modified version involving a cordless drill. First, I cut through all of the lines in the design, and then Brad went through with a small drill bit to expand them. Although I offered to use the drill, I think he was having too much fun, so I helped by holding the pumpkin and cleaning out our cuts with a toothpick.

After we had drilled through all of the fine lines, I began working on the face of the design. First, I took a Speedball Linoleum Cutter and cut around the edges of the area. Next, I shaved out the rest of the face (this took quite a while). I continued shaving the same area, layers at a time until I had removed a section about half as deep as the depth of the pumpkin. Next I took a Clay Ribbon Tool from the before mentioned clay kit to smooth the ridges that had appeared from shaving the design. To outline the overall design, I shaved out a much shallower border. Sorry I don't have pictures to demonstrate this technique, but I was busy working, and Brad wasn't around to take pictures. To get a visual, see the link posted above.

The final steps were to drill a hole in the top for ventilation (because we cut our pumpkins from the bottom) and put a candle inside. We used a small votive for my Blackhawks pumpkin and a colored light for the disco pumpkin.

Below are pictures of our finished products. I wish I could have captured the magic of the disco pumpkin, but a camera can't do it justice. We had a colored light inside that would strobe to the beat of whatever music was playing. It was especially cool because all the colors reflected from the ceiling like a disco ball. As I mentioned in my last post, we had a birthday party to go to this weekend, and the disco pumpkin was a big hit. I'm happy to report that the blue velvet cupcakes were as well :] Happy Halloween!!

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