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...