Friday, August 20, 2010

Faux Pumpkin Carving

EDT's Count Down To Halloween!
This weeks post is brought to you by the Zombie mistress herself Rikki of Custom Zombie. She owns a delightful little boutique specializing in not only beautiful jewelry, and photography, but transforming your digital image into that of the living dead. You heard me right kids she will make you look like a zombie so when the zombie apocalypse finally does happen there will be no surprises. Today she has written up a special little treat for us. She is sharing her special way of carving pumpkins. They are just so beautiful I can't wait to start slicing.

Faux Pumpkin Carving
Every year for Halloween I would spend hours carving intricate designs into my pumpkins only to watch them rot. When Michael’s started carrying carvable fake pumpkins I was ecstatic! But if you’ve ever tried to carve one using the standard pumpkin saw you’ll know that it’s not the ideal way to do the job (cuts turn out bigger than they should be, pieces break from all that up-and-down movement….it’s a nightmare!). After a few seasons of doing it the hard way I came across some information that made my pumpkin carving life a whole lot easier: you can use a hot knife to do it!

I’m getting ahead of myself though – let’s start from square one. First pick a pattern. You can design it yourself, use a pattern book, download a free template off the internet, or for some really rad patterns you can check out Size the pattern to fit your pumpkin then gather up your supplies. You’ll need tape, scissors, a hot knife (mine is a Creative Versa-Tool from Michael’s), and something small, pointy, and sharp (shown are a bead reamer and a clay sculpting tool).

Cut your pattern out, leaving a bit of space around the outside edges of the design. Tape it to the pumpkin – I tape top and bottom first, then the sides. You’ll notice that there are some ridges in the paper and you’ll have to get rid of those before you can start transferring the pattern. Make cuts in inconspicuous places as near to the ridges as possible. Now pull the cut edges together, overlapping as needed, until it lays fairly flat and the edges still mate up. Tape them in place. Go ahead and turn the hot knife on so it will be ready when you need it.

With your pointy tool, start making dots along your pattern. You want to make sure they are close enough together to follow the lines once you’ve removed the paper. The dots will need to be very close, almost on top of one another, in places with very small details. Remove the paper and compare it to your now dotted pumpkin. Make sure you got every line or you’ll get messed up when it comes time to cut it out!

Now that your pattern is transferred you can start cutting. Begin by cutting a hole out of the bottom of the pumpkin. This gives you access to the back of the carving to help punch pieces out and also serves as a way to insert a light in the finished product.

Some things to know about carving with a hot knife: let it glide through instead of pushing it hard, occasionally you’ll need to use a sawing motion to get through tough parts (especially a side seam),and if you have a screw-on blade you may need to tighten it back up from time to time – I use the discarded circle I cut from the bottom to turn the blade. It’s sort of like playing Connect the Dots but we can’t start and end at the same dot for a couple of reasons. Follow the advice below instead and your design will come out much better.

First, cut around all of the smallest pieces (for my pattern I cut around the witch’s face and hat brim, then the arms and the bat, starting with his head). Next cut out the small holes. When you get to the bigger holes you’ll need to cut them into several pieces to be able to punch them out without breaking off things you meant to keep (I cut my largest piece into five sections). When you are ready to punch the pieces through be aware of how the shapes around it are moving. Some pieces need to be punched in and some need to be pulled out – I use my pointy tool to help with both of these things. Large pieces that are suspended by one small area (like the bat in my design) are especially tricky to punch out around. I save them for last so there is less tension holding them in place and typically pull them out, starting by pushing them from the inside of the pumpkin.

Once all of your pieces are punched out you may need to use the hot knife to trim some of the “flesh” (interior foam) to better show your design. Assuming that everything came out intact, you’ve got a perfectly carved pumpkin that will last forever if you store it properly! Stick a light in it and you’re done!

Custom Zombie’s business was born out of her love for horror, Halloween, and all things zombie. Though she has dabbled in many art forms, Photoshop is her preferred medium. She spend’s most of her free time building Halloween props, playing with her two black cats, reading graphic novels, and plotting the worldwide invasion of my undead masses!

For more of custom zombie on the web you can find her at …
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RubySkeleton said...

WOW! Those are some AMAZING punkin carving results! ;-D That is exciting! Thanks the all the info!

Dark Squirrel Victoria said...

Way cool!!! I am going to try this.

Victoria :)

Inga said...

Thanks so much for this tutorial! I suffered through carving two of those pumpkins a couple of years ago, and I'm actually looking forward to giving it another try now. :-)

Bio said...

Love carving with homemade stencils, it just much more original!

Living Dead Girl Nicole said...

I adore carving pumpkins. I have actually done some of the stencils shown in the photos! Great post!