Smashing Pumpkins: a tutorial!

It’s the night before our Annual ‘Pumpkin Party’. I say ‘Annual’ but the first one was only last year, so I don’t know whether it can be annual yet. I say Pumpkin Party, but the theme is much less visible than last year’s affair, mainly because I was a bit slow to get my act together this year. In fact I have a massive list of things that need doing, making and buying before 2.30pm tomorrow, when a small but distinguished group of two- and three-year-olds (plus assorted siblings) descend on the house expecting fun. But at the moment I am reclining on the sofa, nursing an aching wrist but remarkably pleased with myself.

This time last year I was struggling to get around whilst suffering the beginnings of what turned out to be quite a severe form of SPD. I couldn’t lift the Pocket Dictator, or supervise the ‘craft’ at the party because I couln’t bend over. I couldn’t carve the Pumpkin because I couldn’t stand for long enough. So this year, I carved two in celebration, and I am almost smug wit satisfaction at how well they turned out. You still have enough before Halloween to get in the carving spirit too. Here’s a quick photo breakdown of how to do it.

1. Buy your pumpkin. Try and get one with a flat side which is easier to carve. Mark out in pencil your design. If you don’t have any deisgn ideas, you can buy or download stencils quite easily.

2. Cut off your top. You want to cut into the pumpkin at an angle towards the middle so that the lid doesn’t fall into the middle of the Pumpkin when finished. It’s also worth making a notch at right angles to your cutting line so that you can match up the two pieces again when you put the lid on.

3. Lever off the lid- it’s usually held down with the pith and pips inside! Trim all of this off the bottom of your lid section.

4. Then scoop out your Pumpkin. You can use the flesh in cooking and you can bake the seeds too, if you fancy. Or you can just sling it in the compost/food waste.
5. Scrape the interior thoroughly.
6. Score the skin to make the design clearer. This will make the carving easier.

7. Start carving your design, cutting deep into the flesh. Press the detached pieces in/out carefully as you go. You need to be aware of positive and negative space: the negative space is the flesh that you will be throwing away, so you can cut across it to make it easier for you to carve the design into the Pumpkin. You can also cut away preliminary chunks before you carve more intricate designs. in this way you are less likely to break off the positive space (in the case of this one, the teeth).

8. Once you have taken away the negative spaces, you can whittle away inside the pumpkin. By removing the flesh from around the immediate area where you have carved, you define the picture you have carved more clearly. The left hand picture is before ‘definition’, the right hand after.

9. Insert your candle. Tealights are ideal, though I used a candle-filled glass container for added stability. If you need it, you can always scrape the inside base to make a flatter surface, or carve a dent in which to place your candle.
10. Light your candle, darken the room and admire.

 There’s a Pumpkin Carving Contest on at Mediocre Mum. I’ll be entering mine!

Disclaimer: Knives are sharp, naked flames can burn and should not be left unattended. If you choose to carve a Pumpkin, please act responsibly: your accidents are not my fault!

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