Month: October 2014

How to Carve a Dragon Pumpkin

pumpkinI really need to make things more often. This was just a pumpkin carving, but it still scratched a deep psychological itch or two… more on that in a minute.

After carving a “normal” jack-o-lantern, I tried to prompt Sydney to think of something special to do for the other. Kitty? Witch? Quickly fired up and started doing searches like “kitty pumpkin carving” and “frozen pumpkin carving”.

Olaf from Frozen almost won the day… until I remembered that she was pretty much infatuated with Toothless from “How to Train Your Dragon”. Found a picture of a Toothless pumpkin, and the squeal was immediate. Score.

Next step: Googled “Toothless how to train your dragon pumpkin stencil”. Didn’t think I’d find the same one that had just made Sydney jump up and down, but sometimes the stars just align.

If you’re interested, it’s the 5th image here:

The Interwebz rule.

The Actual Carving

I had never attempted to carve a specific image on a pumpkin before, so this was all new to me. Which is why I loved it.

Printed out that pattern, and taped it on the pumpkin. Somehow I had to transfer the lines to the pumpkin skin… hmm… Toothpick? Broke after two pokes. Knife? mangled the paper without giving a good transfer. Considered grabbing an awl from the shop (might do that next time) but then a paperclip magically appeared in a sunbeam, and I had my transfer tool. Unfolded just a bit, a paperclip does a great job of poking small but visible holes through the pattern into a pumpkin skin.

So take a few minutes, and poke your way around the pattern… poking on the side that you will cut away (within the black in the case of this template). Go nice and tight where the pattern is detailed; and feel free to space it out 1/2″ or so where it’s not (like the outline of the containing oval in this pattern).

Remove your pattern, and it’s carving time.

YMMV, but I had the best luck using a sharp paring knife in conjunction with a small serrated tomato knife.

Follow the pattern carefully with the paring knife, cutting in about 1/4″ to 1/2″ around a section, and then go back and start removing “fill” until you have a notch following the patter nicely. Then use the serrated knife to plunge through and get rid of the “dead” area… and come back and clean up with the paring knife.

It takes a bit of time and care, but working out exactly how to use the tools to do the job is one of the joys of any new project like this.

Doing the tiny bits (nose, mouth in my case) were particularly nerve-racking.

Making Rules

This family activity quickly devolved into me working alone while Sydney played outside. No matter; she helped come up with the idea and was thrilled with the result… and I go to experience a solid hour (yeah, it took me an hour. bite me) of zen-like focus with tools in my hand, a new challenge to overcome, and in the end a tiny little piece of art created.

I need to do more of this. Like every day.

Perhaps just a sketch, or a blog post… but I find that I always feel better when I have made something.

Lots of people know what they love but don’t do it. Seriously… it sounds absurd, but how many times have you heard something along the lines of “oh, I’d love to do XXX, but I just don’t have the time.”

Well, if it’s truly important, you make time. Otherwise you make excuses.

Prioritizing what truly matters to you is the key to an epic life. It sounds simple, but most people just don’t do it.

Go for it.