Tuesday, November 1, 2011

In Which Chrissy Makes a Halloween Pumpkin

So I made a pumpkin for Halloween. People seemed to like it, so I'll show you how I made it!

After painting on a design with India ink (above, left) I eviscerated the pumpkin with an ordinary utility knife (left). This wasn't so easy, and some specialized jigsaw-type blade probably would have facilitated the process. In the end, however, the utility knife did what I needed it to do... unlike this blog editor. It's like, I get it perfect in the editor, then I view my actual blog and the formatting is completely different and horrible. I'm sure it looks different and worse on different browsers and screen sizes, too, but what am I supposed to do. This is why I like to work with my hands and actual artifacts. Bear with me; the content is worthwhile.

I didn't hack out all the pumpkin's features. Instead, I opted to carve some details in relief so the light would shine through them in varying intensities.
I hoped to purchase some linoleum cutters for this purpose, but I couldn't find them at the hardware store, nor did I feel like trekking all the way to Dick Blick in Philly, where I know they carry sets of cutters at jacked up art supply store prices. Linoleum cutters, by the way, are those speedball pens with interchangeable curved blades used to carve out designs for linoleum stamps. I had a hard time describing them to the Ace Hardware employee, so try a Google Image search if you're confused.

Anyway, I ended up removing the erasers from some pencils and cutting the metal tips into curved blades. I then used the ghetto lino cutters to scrape away at my pumpkin (right).

The lino cutters couldn't get into the real fine details, so I used kebab sticks to pierce clean holes in the eyes and scratch at various other spots (below, left). Those kebab sticks did double duty later on (below, right). Those staked gourds might look a little precarious, but it's all an illusion.

I'm a gruesome guy, you know. I love that old "Tales from the Crypt" gore and decay and don't see much of it around these days. In the interest of being repulsive, I carved small pockets into the pumpkin's sides, using a potato peeler, and inserted pimento olives to act as bloody, gangrenous boils.

Because the larger pumpkin would be eating tiny gourds, I constructed arms for him so he could lift the unfortunate midgets into his mouth. To do this, I bent a wire coat hanger into an arm shape, pushed it into the pumpkin's side and covered it with paper mache (above, right), which I later painted orange to match his skin. This paper mache is an approximate 50/50 mix of white flour and water. Were this a permanent project, I would worry about mold and such. But it's a Jack O'Lantern.

I surrounded the main pumpkin with smaller gourds and apples which I either carved with an X-acto knife or painted with India Ink. Ignoring the possibility of fire hazard (ehh...I had an extinguisher nearby), I placed the display in a bed of autumn leaves and lit everything up. 

Check out the gummy worms, the tiny gourd inside the pumpkin's mouth and the antique colored twinkle lights. Twinkle lights, by the way, were used on Christmas Trees before electric light strands came out. Talk about a fire hazard!

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the Christmas music.

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