Thor-eau-Lantern

I have always enjoyed carving pumpkins.  In every Halloween home video, I'd be standing alongside my brothers happily scooping guts and separating seeds, all while chomping on a wad of gum.  It's been eight years, though, since I handled my orange and black knife set.  My last piece was a tribute to the Chicago Bears.  It was quite a challenge because, in addition to its detailed design, I carved only half-way into the flesh.  After three hours of work, I was left with an awesome pumpkin, a severely cramped hand, and no desire to ever sculpt another jack-o-lantern.  

I'm not sure if I was getting pumpkin out of my brother's ear or if I was giving him a pumpkin wet willie.  Either way, we were having fun!

I'm not sure if I was getting pumpkin out of my brother's ear or if I was giving him a pumpkin wet willie.  Either way, we were having fun!

Chicago Bears pumpkin, 2006

Chicago Bears pumpkin, 2006

I was struck with renewed inspiration and enthusiasm a few weeks ago, while browsing through a Martha Stewart Halloween magazine.  An article featured a collection of pumpkins carved with linoleum cutters.  What an ingenious tool for such a task!  I knew that my carving hiatus was to end; it was time for me to dust off my 10th-grade printmaking skills, and head to the craft store and pumpkin patch.

For my subject, I drew inspiration from my recent trip to Concord, MA.  Browsing through Thoreau quotes, I found the following:  "I would rather sit on a pumpkin & have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion."  After reading this, I knew what, or shall I say, who I wished to carve.

Below are all of the tools I used in my process (with the exception of tracing paper and a pen). 

From L to R: a pumpkin, inspirational photo of Thoreau, carving tools, a stylus from Nintendo DS, a Speedball linoleum cutter kit, and Martha Stewart transfer paper

From L to R: a pumpkin, inspirational photo of Thoreau, carving tools, a stylus from Nintendo DS, a Speedball linoleum cutter kit, and Martha Stewart transfer paper

I traced the original image of Thoreau with a pen.  Rather than puncturing the pattern into the pumpkin, I used Martha Stewart transfer paper (basically carbon copy).  It worked wonderfully!  I layered my tracing over the transfer paper onto the pumpkin.  Using a stylus (from my Nintendo DS), I retraced my drawing.  It left a precise, light grey guide for carving.

(click on the photos below to see them full-screen)

The final project including the hand-calligraphed quote:

 
 

Have a Thoreau-ly enjoyable Halloween!!