Happy Belated Halloween

Post ImageAlthough we’re already a couple of days into November, I can’t let my favorite holiday just come and go without any mention of it whatsoever. That would be like winning a two brazillion dollar lottery and not telling anyone about it. Which I did once, so I’m not about to do that again.

I was very excited about having Halloween on a Saturday this year so I could actually spend some serious time on a pumpkin. Typically, the year involves an attempt to leave work early, failure at said attempt, arriving home about thirty minutes before trick-or-treating starts, then scrambling to get a good pumpkin carved.

I like carving pumpkins. (In case you missed it, here’s last year’s post on the very same topic.) As you can see, I like to at least try and be creative, which is hard to do given my lofty carving goals combined with the extremely limited amount of time involved. So imagine the heights of my anticipation, knowing I’d have an entire day to work on a pumpkin.

Ah, the best laid plans…

I actually ended up spending most of the day cleaning the house and performing other domestic type duties, such as washing dishes and ironing my underpants. Therefore, I didn’t get a-carving until around four in the afternoon. My goal was to do two pumpkins. One regular and one artificial. Now, I’d never tried one of those artificial punkies before, so I had absolutely no idea what to expect. On the upside, they are actually carvable. On the downside, there’s that pesky carpal tunnel issue.

Long story short, though, I got it carved. However I had not the strength to move on to Pumpkin #2 this year. So 2009 turned out to be a regular one-pumpkin year after all.

snape final carving

In case anyone’s wondering how I did it, I’ll walk you through a quick tutorial of sorts. The hardest part is just coming up with an idea. For some reason Harry Potter struck me this time around and I soon stumbled across this picture of Snape:

Snape reference photo

Once I find a candidate, I reduce it to three colors, since that’s all you get when carving: 1) all the way cut, 2) none of the way cut, 3) part of the way cut. I inspect the image to make sure there aren’t any physically impossible floaty pieces and make sure there aren’t any impossibly small strands holding up other massive pumpkin forms. If so, I make a few adjustments, where possible. Many images are simply unworkable. I got lucky on this one.

Snape reduced to three colors

To help visualize, I change the colors to be more pumpkiny:

Snape changed to pumpkin colors

Now the MOST IMPORTANT part to remember is that, when carving, you’re creating a negative image. Backlighting it turns it into a positive image. So, using my trusty image editing software, I cast a color reversio spell and voila:

Snape negative image

I print this out, tape it to the pumpkin, then take a knife to it. An X-acto knife, to be precise. First step is easy: cut out the black parts, which are the holes:

Black holes punched out

Second step is what caused my arm to suffer what’s likely to be permanent nerve damage. Next year, I’m buying a little power router to do this. Here’s how the half-way cuts turned out, and the final unlit carving:

Halfway cuts done

After that, throw an electric light into it, which gives it an odd green cast to it.

The final result

I colored the initial image above orange, just to make it look normal.

Oh, and did I say just one pumpkin this year? Well, yes, for me that is. But Rachel did one too and I have to share it with you, since she got such a kick out of doing it:

Rachel Pumpkin Pic #1

Rachel Pumpkin Pic #2

And lastly, both of them together:

Both pumpkins together

Can’t wait until next year!

6 Responses to “Happy Belated Halloween”

TexasDeb said
November 3, 2009 at 8:23 am

Where to begin? First, I applaud your dedication to Art. Second, I applaud your daughter’s sense of humor and fun (wonder where that came from?). Third, I hope you saved and roasted and ate your seeds as at least partial return on your carpal tunnel investment. Finally, I have one of those funky orange plastic handled knife sets bought years ago in our own familial quest for the best carved orb, which I will gift you in a heartbeat if you but murmur the word. Let me know….

Kelly Happy Texan said
November 3, 2009 at 10:14 am

That is so totally awesome. As you can tell, I’m very impressed. I feel a little bad about getting the pumpkin carving kit at the grocery store now. You have inspired me to reach higher next year.

Love the pumpkins. Love Halloween.

Biz said
November 3, 2009 at 10:34 am

I love carving pumpkins, but I never make the time to do it! I think the last pumpkin I carved was with you Charlie!

Love Rachel’s! Sarah didn’t make one?

    Charlie said
    November 3, 2009 at 10:41 am

    Nope. She had a friend over and they had two projects: 1) manning the door and 2) renting a scary movie.

Quix said
November 3, 2009 at 1:04 pm

Love it! Haven’t carved a pumpkin since college. Halloween = getting costumed and going out howling at the moon (usually fueled by some adult witches brew). Since we aren’t home during trick or treat time, I’d rather not give the kids fodder to mess up the house with… if they want to do that they have to have the foresight to bring the eggs or TP themselves!

Mom / Jerry said
November 3, 2009 at 3:00 pm

I love both pumpkins, especially Rachel’s – so creative! It made me grin!