Technically pumpkin sculpting?

Posted 10/18/23

I can’t say Halloween is my favorite holiday. Not that I have anything against it. I just like cooking, and a ghastly night of frights doesn’t require much baking or chefery.

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Technically pumpkin sculpting?


I can’t say Halloween is my favorite holiday. Not that I have anything against it. I just like cooking, and a ghastly night of frights doesn’t require much baking or chefery.

If I’m being really honest I don’t even like pumpkin. The season of pumpkin spice is one of mediocrity to me, though I do love reasons to eat extra candy without guilt.

Though one thing about the Halloween season that I really enjoy is carving a pumpkin. There’s something so nostalgic and even exciting about making a jack-o-lantern. Carving a pumpkin is so much more approachable than many other forms of artistic expression. Even as children we understand that carving a face into a pumpkin is something you don’t have to be an accomplished artist to achieve.

This time of year always has me itching to engage in this one particular tradition. Handing out candy? No thanks, I’ll put a bowl outside. What about getting all dressed up in a costume? I’m more likely to decorate a t-shirt just enough to be reminiscent of a costume, unless it’s specifically to go along with someone else. My favorite was the year my brother and I found out a friend was going to be dressed as Queen Frostine from the classic board game “Candy Land.”

We decided to surprise her by dressing up like pieces from the game, which were basically two dimensional gingerbread men. I bought two brightly colored t-shirts, some fabric paint and assorted hard candies and gumdrops from the store. Excited to have one of my “patented” t-shirt based costumes, I got to work. I outlined the shirts with white paint as a mock icing. I glued peppermints and gumdrops to look like buttons and decorations.

Looking at us out of context we looked a little weird, but the second Queen Frostine saw us her eyes lit up… wait… where was I going with this. Oh, that’s right, pumpkins. I may have gotten a touch sidetracked. My point was that when it comes to Halloween I will happily take the shortcut to celebrating, maybe even choosing to skip doing anything special.

However, I’ll never turn down a chance to carve pumpkins, and that’s what led Doug and I to scoot down to Connecticut last Saturday to carve pumpkins with some friends. We took on the responsibility of getting the gourds. Remembering that last year we had found some great options at Lowe’s, we decided to try our luck there first. I’m glad we did.

These pumpkins were massive. Maybe it wasn’t compared to the 2,465.5  pound monster grown in Johnston (check last week’s Johnston SunRise for that story), but they were still huge. I mean each one was more than twice the size of my head. They were a perfect chance to really get in there and carve something good. Don’t get me wrong I’m not carving something you’d see done by a master on television, but I want to do my best.

I feel like I’m really pumping up the audience here and leaving you with the impression that I’m good at something. Please disregard that belief. I’m an amateur. I just like doing it.

So there we were, five grown men laughing around a table with children’s pumpkin carving kits excited to get to work. Just like I remembered there was a thrill to yanking out the slimy insides of a pumpkin as you clean it before carving. The same adrenaline rush at making your first cut confronted me with worry about making a permanent mistake that would ruin my $20 pumpkin and making me feel like a fool as I scrutinized a small detail no one else would even notice.

In the end, I think they all came out pretty well. My buddy Matt and I went with more classic jack-o-lantern faces, while his boyfriend carved a bear into his own, inspiring Doug to carve a mix of the two ideas, a horrifying visage of a monster bear face, into the one he was working on. The odd man out, in a way, was Tyler. He went for something a little more humorous. A goofy look with a slanted grin and almost spookily realistic teeth gave his jack-o-lantern an energy all its own.

I know who my real competition is now. Next year I’m going to be prepared. While not scary, Tyler’s pumpkin showed a level of talent that impressed me. I’ll have to step up my game for next year if I want any chance to win the made up competition in my head that no one else even knows they’re participating in.

pumpkin, sculpting, carving


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