While your childhood Halloween pumpkin with the triangle eyes and the toothy grin was certainly charming today pumpkin carving has literally gone to a new extreme. Halloween revelers are turning their pumpkins into genuine works of art. These masterpieces are often carved with power tools and some are even taking hours and days to complete. The results are often spectacular, funny, breath-taking or all of the above. Generally extreme pumpkin carving falls into the following categories-
- Pumpkins that are carved into something or someone else. These pumpkins may be carved into any variety of shapes or even made to resemble a celebrity. They are often displayed as a homage to something that is special to the pumpkin carver.
- Pumpkins that are carved with a 3-D effect. The people who carve these pumpkins are true artist who use various techniques to add depth and shadow to their carving. The design can be practical or abstract but the carving itself reflects a depth that goes beyond simple pumpkin carving.
- Pumpkins that are strictly artistic. Extreme pumpkin carvers do not feel constrained by the Halloween theme. Extreme pumpkins have shown up carved as floral bouquets, stars spinning around the sky and even a cat with kittens.
So now that you know what extreme pumpkin carving is there are certain techniques that you can easily do to take your pumpkin carving up a notch! Keep in mind that this is an art and like any other medium requires practice to gain expertise.
- Pick out a large pumpkin-Keep in mind that the smaller your pumpkin is the harder it will be carve in an exact design. Beginners would do better to start with a large pumpkin.
- Secure your pumpkin before you start carving. This is a very important safety tip as the tools you will be using in extreme carving can be highly dangerous. You do not want your pumpkin slipping around while you chase after it with a motorized tool.
- Use the right tool to start. Many extreme pumpkin carvers recommend using a reciprocating saw when taking the top off of the pumpkin. This is because often the flesh around this area is quite thick, so the long blade of the reciprocating saw is really helpful. It can also be helpful to tilt the blade so that the tip is in toward the center of the pumpkin and the hilt is toward the outside. This will make a cap that is conical and easy to remove. Another tip about the top is to put a small “juke” or little twitch in the curve. This will help you line up the plug later on. If you do not put some type of feature in the lid, you may have trouble figuring which way to line it up later.
- Use a stencil. It is important to realize that most extreme carvers use a stencil to help them plan their design. Few carvers actually work 100% freehand. Start by taping the stencil to the pumpkin. You will want to make a note of which chunks are going to be removed, which are going to have the skin removed, and what will stay behind. It is crucial to make sure that your stencil will allow all of the pieces you are leaving behind to be supported. Keep in mind that pumpkin pieces do not stand up on their own; they need to be connected if you want them to stay. You can use a nail (a regular nail, any size) to poke through the paper stencil at wherever you will want to cut it. Poking through along the cut-lines will result in a series of dots on the pumpkin surface. When you are done transferring all of the lines, you will then be left with a simple connect the dots. You should now be able to remove the stencil.