Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Personalized Party Pumpkins

I love making party favors, and often try and personalize them.  For my daughter's first Halloween, I was expecting a group of babies, ranging from just a few weeks old to 2 years old.  I wanted to personalize each favor, and make sure that what was given to each child was age appropriate.

This time of year, plastic jack-o-lanterns with handles are available pretty much everywhere.  I purchased one for each of the kids, along with stuff to put in them that was appropriate for the current age of each child.

To write the names:   I have a font on my Mac that I always use for Halloween crafts.  I'm sure a lot of you will think it is familiar (Harry Potter fans), because the font is called "Hogwarts Wizard".  I typed each name in the font and the size I wanted them on the pumpkins.  They were printed out all on one page, and then cut into individual names.  Each name was taped on the inside of the pumpkins.  The plastic is thin enough that it is really easy to see through to trace the font perfectly.  I used a dark purple Sharpee marker - because I love combining purple and orange for Halloween stuff.

My daughter has used her pumpkin for three Halloweens so far, and it is currently sitting on her play kitchen set, waiting to be taken around the neighborhood again on October 31st!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fun with Funkins

Several years ago, I discovered something surprising about myself.  Turns out, I am really quite good at carving pumpkins.

When I was a child, I would draw faces on my pumpkins with pen and my father would do most of the cutting.  I guess stifling my creativity was a price he was willing to pay so that he didn't have to deal with it if I cut off a finger. (Good call.)  Those faces were made up of nothing but geometric shapes, because for some reason, I thought all jack-o-lanterns needed to have triangle eyes.

The first year I was married, I picked up my "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" DVD, and decided I wanted to carve Charlie Brown on a pumpkin.  It rocked, and he was the first in a long line of non-geometric shaped pumpkin faces.

My daughter's first Halloween was in 2007.  I don't know where the idea came from, but I wanted to carve her face on a pumpkin.  However, I knew it would be a lot of work, and the thought of it rotting in just a few days, or seeing her face being eaten off by a squirrel - just didn't sound worth it.  BUT - if I could do it so that it would LAST, then I was up to the challenge.

So, I went to the craft store and bought my first "FUNKIN".  (Yes, that's what they are really called.)  It's kind of a heavy duty styrofoam, that looks real enough to get away with it.

I started by choosing the photo I wanted to use...

In Photoshop, I messed with the "contrast" and "levels" until it was divided up enough to give me clear light (cut out), dark (leave pumpkin) and gray (shave half way), sections.

I cut around the face and taped it to the pumpkin.  Then I used a sharp tool to poke small holes around each section, so when the paper was removed, the template was clearly marked on the pumpkin.
For the sections that needed to be cut out, I used the small saws that come with any pumpkin carving kit.  For the shaved areas, I used a battery-operated drummel tool (left over from my acrylic nail days).  I used the medium sized heads for large areas, and the tiny drill heads for the tight spots.

When it was done, I also carved her name and the year.  At the time, I had a brilliant idea to make a new one each year.  That was until I realized how much space it takes up to STORE it - so, for now, this is the only one I've done.  (Although, I would probably be willing to break out my dremmel again if anyone ever wanted to PAY me to make one!)

To light it up - I have a hole cut out of the BOTTOM.  I use one of those battery operated pumpkin lights and it works great.

Today, when it came out of storage, Lauren's face lit up and she said, "MOMMY!  Is that ME?!"  She was so pleased when I told her it was!  I'm so glad I made it, and will definitely do it again.  Now it's time to start thinking about how to carve our REAL PUMPKINS this year!!!.... hmm...