Halloween Night 2014

 

Happy Halloween!

Hope you all had a wonderful fun-filled Halloween Night 2014.

Halloween Night 2014 was one of the best Halloweens ever! We had such an awesome time last night with our trick-or-treaters. The jack-o’-lanterns were a huge success. Neighbors were telling neighbors and sending them over to see it all. Our yard was the ultimate photo spot for the evening.

Here’s what the house looked like…


My neighbor gave me this gorgeous antique Victorian loveseat and two matching chairs this past Monday. It was perfect for relaxing in the courtyard and greeting our Halloween guests, and it really set the tone for our Halloween Night 2014. Luke drilled holes in my little black cauldron, so I could use my hanging plant stand for our candy.

 


We had tons of fun decorating for Halloween… here’s what the front of the house looked like.

 

Luke made special shelves for displaying my pumpkins. They attached to the wrought iron of the brick wall, and are completely reusable for next year!

 

We recycled these concrete bench legs from our DIY Courtyard Project as Pumpkin Pedestals. They really added a Gothic feel.

 

The pumpkin shelves were nearly invisible. It was such a cool look.

 

Everyone wanted to get up close and personal with the jack-o’-lanterns. To complete the mood for the evening, we had a collection of 23 versions of Grim Grinning Ghosts playing in the background. The music almost made the Singing Graveyard Busts come to life. All in all, it was a super fun Halloween Night 2014!

 

And the remainder of the pumpkins I carved for Halloween…

You can check out the first two pumpkins of the season, Singing Graveyard Busts and Drac-n-Bat’s ’32 here.

Cat-Walking Witch 2014
Screaming Tree 2014
Creeper Monster 2014
We’re Watching You…Beware! 2014

If you’d like see even more pumpkins, Click Here!

I hope your Halloween was every bit as wonderful as ours.

How do you decorate for Halloween?

Do you have any special Halloween traditions?

Leave me a comment… I’d love to hear from you!

~Lorelai

 

 

 

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I’m Pumpkin Carving – Watch Me

Welcome to the Halloween Party!

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to carve a pumpkin and enter the contest. You can check out some great tips and tricks for pumpkin carving, as well as find a Pumpkin Prayer, see some Halloween Funnies, and even read the spooky Legend of the Jack-O’-Lantern. Follow more of the Halloween Party, HERE.

I’m Pumpkin Carving!

It’s that time of year where I get super busy with my pumpkin carving. I invite you to follow me on Instagram, where I will be posting pictures. You can see my work as it happens.

Stop by here, facebook, google+, or twitter to leave messages of encouragement for my carving marathon. Share on Pinterest or Hometalk.

Here’s what’s Carved, so far…

Singing Graveyard Busts 2014
Drac-n-Bat’s ’32 – 2014

Check out more at my Pumpkin Carving Page!

Enter the Pumpkin Carving Contest!

All entries will be  Pinned to Lorelai’s Pumpkin Carving Contest Board.

Carving Tips & Tricks…

Other fun Pumpkin Stuff…

Don’t forget to check out more of the Halloween Party HERE.

 

 

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Hometalk on Pumpkin Carving

Hometalk on Pumpkin Carving

What an exciting week it has been. Let me tell you why…

Last week, I was contacted by, Liz Storch, at Hometalk to curate a special board for them on the subject of pumpkin carving. If you’ve read this blog at all, you know that I am obsessed with pumpkin carving. Needless to say, I was thrilled.

If you don’t know what Hometalk is, just think Pinterest meets HGTV. You get the clipable / pinnable pictures and blog posts, along with the expertise on DIY home and garden projects. Plus you have the ability to ask questions you may have, or lend your knowledge to the subject.

So, I went to work researching clips and putting together a Pumpkin Carving Clipboard highlighting 20 Hometalk clips. Search the board and you will find incredible carved pumpkins; tips, tricks and tutorials for carving, lighting and designs; learn how to make your own carved pumpkin topiary; and even a jack-o’-planter.

Hometalk will be featuring my Pumpkin Carving Clipboard in their Weekly Newsletter! The Hometalk team also created an awesome Pinnable Graphic for my board.


Isn’t this an amazing graphic? Do you find your self inspired just looking at this beautiful collage of pictures? I know I found some things I’d like to give a try.

Much thanks to Liz and the team at Hometalk. I hope you will all pop over, and enjoy the Hometalk on Pumpkin Carving. And don’t forget to PIN and SHARE… thanks.

Have you Curated a board for Hometalk?

Be sure to tell us about the board, and leave a link in the comments!

What are some of your favorite things about Hometalk?


 

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Pumpkin Carving Patterns DIY

DIY Pumpkin Carving Patterns

Drawing designs and creating my own Pumpkin Carving Patterns is how I spend my October, until it is finally time to begin the gutting and carving work. You can make your own patterns too. It matters not if the design is simple or extremely intricate, I follow the same process.

I keep a book of my pumpkin carving patterns. I draw on regular 8-1/2 x 11 inch printer paper, then place all of my drawings / patterns into page protectors and keep them in a three-ring binder. When I decide which patterns will be carved, I make a photo copy. The photo copy keeps my original drawing safe for future use, and allows me to not only take it out shopping for Perfect Pumpkin Picking, but change the size scale of the design to fit my pumpkin needs. Photo copies are also great for pumpkin carving parties!

Pumpkin Carving Patterns: The Process

  1. Decide on a Design.
  2. Draw it lightly (free-hand, tracing, however works best for you) using a pencil and good eraser.
  3. Evaluate your design for areas of silhouette and carving.
  4. ALWAYS  BE THINKING as you plan your pattern. You do not want to cut out the whites of your eyes just to have your pupils fall out! Remember that things need to connect to keep your design in tact (we’ll go over this more later).
  5. Pumpkin Carving Patterns are like photograph negatives. What is light on the pattern will be dark when the pumpkin is lit. That means that the black areas will be what gets cut-out, and the white areas will be left alone. The differing shades of grey will be scraped or carved down in varying degrees–the lightest areas with the least scraping and the darker areas with the most scraping. (see the graphic below under the carved designs section)

I have two examples for you, the “Witch Walking a Cat” is a silhouette design (like “Hocus Pocus“), where the “Owl Witch on a Broomstick” is more of a carved design (like “Brunhilda“).

The Silhouette:

Think of the silhouette as something that is backlit. So, the main design will be black or dark with light shining around the design.

    • Create an area for your back-lighting. You can see in the first image above, that I drew a line around my design.
    • Figure out if there will be any areas that are completely cut out or shaded. In this case, the only complete cut-out is the eyes of the owl. The owl also has a tiny bit of shading.

  • Refine the lines of the design.
  • Shade accordingly.

Some of these types of designs will have large cut-out areas, this pumpkin carving pattern is darkly shaded. It will get a deep scraping to allow the light to silhouette the design.

The Carved Design:

Carved designs will have multiple layers of carving, from nothing at all to barely scraped to medium and deep scrapings to complete cut-outs. When you create these patterns, you need to have a way to differentiate the various areas of carving depths. As mentioned above, patterns are like negatives and as such, the white areas will be the areas with the skin left in tact, and the black areas will be cut out. I use stripes and shading to identify the other varied depths of carving for my Pumpkin Carving Patterns.

White areas with stripes will be barely scraped. Shaded areas with stripes will be heavily scraped. The more stripes (on white or black), the more scraping is done. White areas with double striping would not be scraped as much as a lightly shaded area.

So, let’s walk through the steps of creating a carved design pattern.

  • The carved design can sometimes stand on its own without a carved or scraped area around it. I chose to create more of a scene for the Owl Witch on a Broomstick; and therefore, drew a line around the owl. I added clouds and a partial moon to set the scene.
  • Decide what areas will be cut out or scraped.
  • PAY CLOSE ATTENTION to what you are wanting to cut out so that you do not detach parts of your design by mistake. (ie. Pupils in eyes. In the Owl Witch the pupils are set in the middle of the eyes. If the whites of the eyes were cut out, the pupils would fall out too, so the whites are deeply scraped instead. If you want to cut out the whites of the eyes, draw your pupils on the edge of the whites so the cut out part would not be a full circle, leaving the pupils attached.)

  • You also want to be sure to attach the design so it does not collapse. You will notice above how there are cut-out areas beneath the wings, but the broomstick is attached at the handle and at the broom end. Also, the area above the wings and around the hat are very deeply scraped instead of cut away providing stability to the design.

I hope you found this Pumpkin Carving Patterns DIY Tutorial informative and helpful. Let me know if I can clarify or answer any other questions you may have.

Have you ever made your own Pumpkin Carving Patterns?

Do you have a design in mind that you’d like to try?


 

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Perfect Pumpkin Picking For Carving

Perfect Pumpkin Picking

For your Carved Creations

I spend the month of October drawing designs and creating patterns for my Pumpkin Carvings. For my design to be a success, I need to pick the Perfect Pumpkin. Now, you might think that you just trot on over to the nearest pumpkin patch, grocery store, or wherever you purchase your pumpkins and grab one or two… ok, eight to twelve for me. But I have a system for Perfect Pumpkin Picking, and I am going to share it with you.

Picking a Perfect Pumpkin:

  1. Take your pattern / stencil with you to choose your pumpkin.
  2. Take masking tape and a pen shopping for pumpkins so you can tag each pumpkin for its specific design.
  3. You want the design to cover 75-85% of the pumpkin face.
  4. Press your thumbnail into the pumpkin to make sure it leaves an impression. If no impression is left, the pumpkin is too hard for carving.
  5. Pay attention to the bumps and grooves in the carving area of your pumpkin. Deep grooves, or too many bumps can warp your design and make it difficult to carve. It may be hard to get an evenness in the lighting of your design if the grooves are too thick. (There are times when you can make bumps or grooves work for your design).
  6. Keep in mind that some pumpkins do have growths on them (a sort of tan-brown color). These are usually easy to remove by shaving carefully with a small knife.
  7. Be sure there are no scars or punctures anywhere on your pumpkin that are weeping, oozing, or growing mold.
  8. Check for soft spots–you do not want any soft spots in your pumpkin.
  9. If there are little gnats or flies buzzing around, be sure it is not your pumpkin that is attracting them.

There you have it. Go forth and pick the Perfect Pumpkin!

Check out my Pumpkin Carving Page
for other great Pumpkin Carving Tips & Tricks.

Do you have any tips for picking the Perfect Pumpkin?

What design ideas do you have for pumpkin carving this year?


 

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Lorelai’s Pumpkin Carving Contest 2013 – WINNERS

Congratulations Winners!

Thank you to everyone for the entries in Lorelai’s first annual Pumpkin Carving Contest. Look at these fantastic winners…

Spider
carved by Natalie at MayPopShop

Ichabod Crane
carved by Rory at Life With Rory

Be sure to stop by these two blogs. Check them out, and offer your congratulations!


 

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Pumpkin Carving – Carving & Lighting Tips & Tricks

Create and Illuminate!

Here are some Carving &Lighting Tips & Tricks for your pumpkin that will take your design to another level. Differing depths give your carving light and shadows, and can create something almost life like when illuminated.

The unlit carving doesn’t always portray the greatness of the design. Take a look at this example…

We can learn a lot by comparing these two images. Notice the multiple levels in this carving. We have areas that are completely cut out, areas that are barely scraped (such as Brunhilda’s hood on the right side of the picture), and other areas with differing depths. These depths give your carving intricate detail and help create your design and bring it to life. Look at the warts and creases, the jutting chin, crooked nose, lips, and piercing eyes.

Would you have imagined that the illuminated carving would look like this just by seeing the unlit carving?

Let’s look at a few other examples.

You can see the flames on the side of the FrankenRod are carved deeper into the flesh of the pumpkin, which will make them lighter when the carving is lit. Take a look at the details of the engine, the three carburetors on top have deep holes in them, but are not completely cut out. The cut out area of the headlight gives the illusion of the light really being lit.

Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde is a good example of how you can texturize your carving with varying depths. In this case the depths created a skyline as well as Dr. Jeckyll’s face.

The Frightful Carriage Ride is an example of a carving created more by cut out than by sculpting. When you carve out lots of areas, be sure to leave the pieces in place until the end. Granted, some may fall out on there own, but don’t pull them out, they will help keep your design in tact while you work. In this design, there was so much delicate cut out work that I did not fully cut all of the pieces so they would help hold the pumpkin together while I worked in other areas. The large pieces were taken out in smaller chunks to preserve the design.

Carving and Sculpting Tips & Tricks:

  1. Use a bowl for stabilization and easy turning of the pumpkin. Resting the pumpkin in a bowl allows you to maneuver the pumpkin so you can better see the design, get a better angle for carving, and be able to position you hand in an area that is not delicately cut. The bowl also provides you both hands for carving. That way you can stick your hand inside the pumpkin to gently hold intricate areas while sculpting or carving.
  2. Place a towel under your bowl to keep it from sliding so easily.
  3. Start in the center of design and work your way out.
  4. Do the most detailed areas first.
  5. Don’t necessarily cut out an entire area that is cut through. If it is highly detailed, leave parts uncut so that it will be stronger for the remainder of the work.
  6. If an area will be very small or “weaker” when cut-out, do any shading or sculpting work before you cut it.
  7. Leave large pieces in place after cutting to help with stability.
  8. Drill Bits – you can use these by hand to make perfect circles. They also work well for starting cuts in tiny areas.
  9. Pumpkin Saws – Larger saws are for longer straighter cuts. As the design gets smaller or curvier, use the smaller saws.
  10. Wood working tools, Linoleum tools, and exact-o knives work well. Gouge tools – V-shape, U-shape, Round, Flat.
  11. Differing depths of sculpting will give light and shade to your carving.
  12. Taking a break in your carving? Place a damp paper towel over the carved area. If you will be away from your carving for more than 1-hour, place pumpkin in a plastic bag and refrigerate. (When you return to carving, pat dry the pumpkin with a dry paper towel. Be careful not to smudge your pattern.)

Lighting Tips & Tricks:

There are three types of lighting for your carved pumpkin–battery operated, electric, and candle.

Battery Operated: In my experience, these work best if you can stack them so the light gets up behind your carving. The lights are not very bright, so they do not illuminate your design that well.

Candle: If you are using a candle, you need to light the candle and let it burn for a minute, then blow it out. Turn the pumpkin over and see where the smoke hit the inside of the pumpkin. You will need to create a chimney there. You can do this by using a larger sized drill bit to create a hole. Candles do not provide the best light for your design.

Electric: This is by far my favorite way of illuminating a carved pumpkin masterpiece! I found these electric lights at Joanne’s. They are made with a spring stand so they can stretch or bend to the perfect position for your carving. My spring stand lights  have replaceable night light bulbs (7-watt). They provide marvelous light for my designs.

Another way to use electric lights is to wrap a strand of  “Christmas” lights around a mason jar.

With electric lights, you also have the option to use colored light bulbs for a spookier ambiance.

NOTE: Having the hole in the bottom of the pumpkin keeps you from having the cord flopping out over the top of your pumpkin.

So there you have it, Carving & Lighting Tips & Tricks for your pumpkin!

Do you have any carving tips & tricks?

How do you like to illuminate your jack-o-lantern?

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Pumpkin Carving – Gutting & Preserving Your Pumpkin

Gooey Guts and Preservation!

There is more to gutting & preserving your pumpkin than just getting the stringy goo and pumpkin seeds out of the pumpkin shell. Gutting your pumpkin is all about preparing the pumpkin for carving, and for that we need to use the right tools.

About two weeks ago, I shared with you my Pumpkin Gutter. The Pumpkin Gutter is a drill bit that is an amazing tool for pumpkin carving. We are going to use it today for…

How To Gut Your Pumpkin Properly For Carving:

  1. If you haven’t washed the pumpkin and transferred the design yet, do it now. You can find some Design Transferring Tips & Tricks here.
  2. Gather your tools: Large Knife; Pumpkin Gutter; Drill; Large Bowl; Smooth-edged Scrapper (if you don’t have a Pumpkin Gutter, a jagged-edged scrapper would help).
  3. Use a bowl to help stabilize the pumpkin and Cut a Hole in the Bottom of the Pumpkin. Remove the cut piece. This will help you with lighting, and also will allow you to adjust the bottom of the pumpkin so it sits well for display.
  4. With your hands, pull out as much of the guts as you can easily. (I use rubber gloves for this part).
  5. Attach the Pumpkin Gutter to the Drill and work your way around the inside of the pumpkin. You will need to stop periodically to remove guts and clean off the Pumpkin Gutter. How many times depends on the size of your pumpkin and how much guts it has.
  6. Once you have removed all of the stringy guts and seeds, it’s time to put the pins back into the holes in the pumpkin from transferring your design pattern.
  7. Use the Pumpkin Gutter to thin your pumpkin shell to 1/2″ to 3/4″ (this is the length of your pins). Your pins will be you guide. Thin the pumpkin until you see the tips of your pins poking through. Your pumpkin will be easier to carve and more luminous all over for a more spectacular display.
  8. Remove the pins.
  9. Use the Smooth-edged Scrapper to smooth out the inside of the pumpkin.
  10. Clean the pumpkin out, and you are ready to Carve!

How To Preserve Your Pumpkin After Carving:

  1. Pumpkins are 90% water, so you want to keep them moist.
  2. Refrigerate – Between displays, place the pumpkin in a plastic bag and put into the refrigerator. Your carved pumpkin will last 2-3 weeks!
  3. If you need to postpone carving mid design: Short Break – place a damp double layer of paper toweling over the carved area and leave pumpkin in a cool place. Long Break – place pumpkin in a tied plastic bag and refrigerator. Resume carving and pat pumpkin dry without wiping the transferred design.
  4. Cold-Water Bath – If the pumpkin begins to shrivel, you can soak it in a cold-water bath (cold tap water, not ice).
  5. Once the pumpkin is Re-Plumped, pat it dry (so it doesn’t mold) and either display or put back into the refrigerator.
  6. If a pumpkin develops a mold (green or white fuzzy), use Rubbing Alcohol with Q-tip, cotton ball, or paper towel to clean the mold. Also, before you throw away the molded pumpkin, check it to see if the mold is even visible in the dark with the pumpkin lit…you may be pleasantly surprised.

NOTE: Be sure your refrigerator isn’t so cold that it will freeze your pumpkin. Freezing will not make your pumpkin happy.

Now, your pumpkin is ready to Carve!

Next time, we’ll go over some Carving and Lighting Tips & Tricks!

Have you ever used a bowl to help stabilize your pumpkin?

Do you have any tips or tricks?

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Pumpkin Carving Design Tips & Tricks

Pumpkin Carving Design Tips & Tricks

I draw my own designs and create my own patterns. I love the whole process; Pumpkin Carving is so much fun. But sometimes, trying to get your design or pattern onto the pumpkin for carving can be tedious. Let’s face it, nobody likes to sit there poking the little holes through the pattern into your pumpkin just to remove the pattern and not be able to tell what the heck your design is supposed to be.

Here is an easy tip for transferring your design pattern to your pumpkin!

Saral Transfer Paper is the absolute easiest and best way to transfer your design to the pumpkin! I purchase mine by the roll for about $13 for 12 feet of paper from Art Supply Warehouse. Saral paper comes in many different colors. I use the blue paper because it shows up very nicely on the pumpkin.

How To Transfer the Design:

  1. Make a few copies of your pattern. This way you can use one to look at while carving, and you don’t destroy the only copy you have in case you or someone else would like to carve it again in the future.
  2. Cut lines around your pattern so the paper will lay better across the surface of the pumpkin.
  3. Cut Saral Transfer Paper to appropriate size for your design.
  4. Use Pins (about 1/2″ to 3/4″ long) to hold the pattern to the pumpkin. Push the pins through blackened areas of your pattern (these areas will be cut out of your pattern so you will not see the pin marks). If there are any diseased spots or things you want off your pumpkin place a black area of your pattern over it so it will be cut out.
  5. Tape the pattern in place with Masking Tape.
  6. Trace your design with a Medium Point Pen (it doesn’t matter if there is ink). A medium point will not poke through the pattern as easily as a fine point pen. Be careful with the ridges of the pumpkin, make sure you are getting your design transferred down inside the ridges.
  7. Once all lines have been traced, you can take the pattern off the pumpkin.
  8. Check your design to be sure you transferred every detail. Did you miss anything? No problem, pin your pattern back to the pumpkin using the same holes and finish tracing. (This is also great if you need to stop in the middle of the transfer and put your pumpkin back in the refrigerator. Take your pattern off and then just replace it.)
  9. Remove pattern from pumpkin.

Now, you have transferred your design pattern to your pumpkin. Yippee!

Next time, we’ll get the pumpkin ready to carve!

Have you ever transferred designs this way?

Do you have any design tips & tricks?

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Pumpkin Carving Tools of the Trade

The Proper Tools

Make All the Difference

It is an old saying that the proper tools make a job easier, and it is no different in Pumpkin Carving. The tools do not need to be expensive, just the correct tools for your use. My pumpkin carving tools of the trade encompass a variety of different types of tools for carving My Pumpkins.

  • A collection of Pumpkin Masters Carving Tools (not motorized)
  • Wood Carving Tools
  • Drill Bits (various sizes)

Pumpkin Masters Carving Tools

   

SAWS

There are several different sizes of saws both in length of saw blade and in the size of the teeth. For straighter longer cuts, use a saw with a longer blade and larger teeth. For more intricate or curvy areas, use a smaller blade length and smaller teeth.

The key to using the saws is making quick sawing motions. Do not try to use the saws like a knife and cut through the pumpkin. It takes very little pressure, but a lot of back-and-forth sawing motion. I have used these same saws for years.

You can see in my picture above, that I trimmed the top of the saw blade to an angled point. This helps a great deal. Purchase a separate set for children to use and keep the blunt end for safety.

SCRAPERS

I use the scrapers to add texture to the pumpkin. I have two large scrapers–one with a straight edge and one with a jagged edge. I use the straight edged one to smooth out the inside of the pumpkin.

The poker type scraper is great for deepening creases in a design.

Use the others to scratch at the pumpkin skin. This technique is great for adding an aged or weathered look, grass, or maybe a pattern to a scarecrow’s shirt.

**NOTE: These Pumpkin Masters Carving Tools are readily available at Target, Walmart, grocery stores, and drugstores.

Wood Carving Tools

I have a 5-piece gouge set that includes a flat angle-edge, an almost flat round-edge, a U-shape, a tiny V-shape, and a larger V-shape. These are fantastic for carving and sculpting! I would say that probably 95% of my actual design work is done with this set.

You can also use Linoleum tools and/or Exact-o knife.

Find the Five Piece Power Grip Carving Set at Rockler Woodworking and Hardware

Drill Bits

Drill Bits are great for punching perfectly round holes into your pumpkin. You do not need to attach it to a drill, just twist it through the pumpkin with your fingers. It is very easy to do. These little multi-packs from the 99-Cents Only Stores and other places, make it easy to have holes of varying sizes.

Now you have the Pumpkin Carving Tools of the Trade.  Upcoming posts will include tips and tricks on designs and patterns, carving, preparation, preservation, and more. Be sure to check back!

What tools do you use for carving pumpkins?

Do you have any tool tips or tricks?

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On Another Note~

Around the World with I Am Meg
The Travel Series is coming to a close. Please go check out the final Guest Blogger post.
Last Post in the Series: Kate: Amsterdam, Holland
For a list of all posts, Check the Schedule: HERE


 

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