Pumpkin carving with the master

Kelley has been an expert pumpkin artist for several years. She just created this amazing Dexter jack-o-lantern:


See some of her other masterpieces here too:


This Halloween she was here for a wedding and so she brought all of her fancy gear and I got to have a special private class. I have never attempted fancy “pumpkin art” before, so I was excited to try my hand at it with her guidance. She was a great teacher and 5 hours later…I had a successful masterpiece.

I started by picking out a pattern online with Kelley’s help. I wanted one that would be intricate but not impossible. I chose the Art Nouveau lady from my “Make Art Not War” Obey tee-shirt and poster in my classroom.


The pattern

So first we cleaned out the pumpkins. My pumpkin was HUGE and it was quite the arm workout. The secret to the “shading” is cleaning out the pumpkin enough so that there is only 3/4 of an inch of “skin” left and the light will show through without having to be carved all the way through. Kelley showed me how to measure with a toothpick.

Next, you tape the pattern over contact paper on to the pumpkin and trace the whole pattern. When you take off the pattern and contact paper, the pattern remains on the pumpkin. It will stay on there as long as you don’t smudge it with your fingers too much.

Next I carved out all of the “all the way through” pieces. It’s hard to see on the picture of my pattern, but the black pieces are all the way through, the gray ones are “shaved” and the white is left alone. I had a copy of the pattern that I used to guide my carving.

I used an exact0-knife to carve out the “all the way through” ones, then Kelley introduced me to her arsenal of linoleum, wood and clay carving tools and showed me how to “shave” the shaded areas. This part was the most time-consuming, and you have to be careful not to carve through the whole pumpkin while getting it thin enough for the light to show through.

After 5 hours (minus dinner), a sore arm and 3 numb spots on my right hand that lasted 3 days, my masterpiece was finished. I was really happy with the finished product and it was worth it!


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