Growing up in France, we didn’t have Halloween. We all dressed up for Mardi Gras, of course, but we didn’t carve pumpkins, eat candy corn or go trick-or-treating. We also didn’t have baseball, peanut butter or Cheers. I moved to New York from Paris nine years ago and I’ll never forget the first time I had root beer (I spit it out, though, of course now I love it), the first time I ate Chinese food out of a white takeout box “just like in the movies!” or the first time I cooked a turkey for Thanksgiving. I’ve lived in the US for almost 10 years now and feel very much at home here, but there are still a few things quintessentially American that I’ve never done. For example, I’d never carved a pumpkin before! Turns out it’s pretty fun, only a little messy and totally worth it to see your design come to life through such beautiful, glowing light.
Pumpkins look best in a group, so I bought three pumpkins of different sizes, shapes and colors. I like jack-o-lanterns and spooky designs, so I decided to make a little pumpkin man. I drew a funny face on the pumpkin with a Sharpie and then added more details as I carved. I wanted to use a similar technique to linocutting and only carve the skin without going all the way through. I used my linocut gouges and it worked really nicely. Just remember to keep your tools sharp and carve away from your body! I carved the second pumpkin for the body and cut out little triangles with a knife to let the light shine through. I stacked them on top of the last pumpkin, put battery-powered tea lights inside, and voila! I hope this inspires you to try some new techniques while carving this Halloween! –Amelie Mancini
Click through for DIY tips and steps after the jump!
-Spoon and knife (for removing pumpkin lid and seeds)
-Pen (a thick black Sharpie works well for drawing faces)
-Battery powered electric tea lights (optional)
1. Cut out a lid on the top of the pumpkin and empty out the seeds. Remove most of the flesh, too. Save it and make pumpkin pie later!
2. Sketch a few funny-looking faces on a piece of paper and pick your favorite. Use your imagination! The weirder the better. Draw it on the pumpkin with a Sharpie. It’s supposed to look weird, so don’t stress over getting it perfect! You’ll add more details later.
3. Using a linocut gouge (available at any art store), start cutting over the sharpie lines. You can use a V-shaped gouge for skinny lines and a U-shaped one for wide areas. Only carve out the orange skin, do not cut all the way through. Create fun patterns with lines or dots in some areas. Remember the two rules of carving: always carve away from your body, and keep your tools sharp! You are more likely to slip and cut yourself with a dull blade. You can get a sharpening kit at the art store, too!
4. With a knife, cut little triangles into the second pumpkin to let the light shine through more brightly.
5. Put battery powered tea lights inside the two hollowed out pumpkins and stack them to make a little snowman-like figure. Admire your hard work and go make a pumpkin pie with the insides of your pumpkin man.