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To see "The Grim Adventures of "PEPPER" the pumpkin",
Click Here to see the decay!

"Pumpkin Carving Tips": or,
"Fun With Red Peppers"

Now. here is a peek at a pumpkin carving technique I occasionally use.
My tools are a small knife, and a couple of double edged,"ribbon tools", which are inexpensive cutting and carving tools, usually used in clay sculpting. (These tools can be found in most art supply stores.) I use the ribbon tools to scrape away the pumpkin's skin, and to create fine, detailed carvings into the pumpkin meat. I found that they work very well for carving stencil images into a pumpkins also. But, because they remove tiny amounts of material, at a time, the carving process takes a bit longer than attacking the pumpkin with a butcher's knife. (But I like doing that too!)

I also keep a small paint brush handy, to remove tiny particles from crevices.

I noticed one day that sweet Red Peppers, when cut a certain way, resemble giant, exaggerated tongues.

We will get get back to the red pepper later.

Look for a pumpkin with character. Personally, I think that the gnarly, mis-shapen, misfit of the pumpkin patch, make the best jack-o-lantern characters. Unfortunately, this sickeningly cute example pumpkin came from the grocery store, from a pile of sickeningly cute pumpkin clones. (We don't go to the "real" pumpkin patch until next weekend.)

OK, first I sketch a face on the pumpkin with a permanent Sharpie marker. I like carving big faces which make good use of the available space. This guy is going to have a huge toothy grin. I draw the teeth according to the natural creases in the pumpkin's surface. The spaces between the teeth are located at each natural indentation.

Now, using the ribbon loop, I begin digging out the deepest details of the mouth and teeth with the most narrow ribbon loop. Once the spaces between the teeth are complete, I use a wider ribbon loop to carefully scrape away the skin.

Once the teeth are carved out, and the skin is removed, I round off edges of the tooth spaces slightly. Using a small knife, I cleaned up the spaces between the teeth, and made them a little deeper and sharper. Here is the finished grin.

I use the same carving technique on the eyes. I use the thin ribbon tool to make deep cuts around the outside of each eyeball, and around each pupil. I then remove the skin from the "white parts" of the eyeball, but leaving the skin on the pupils. I then carefully round out the edges of the eyeball so that a shallow dome shape is produced. This gives the eyeballs a nice 3D bulge.

Now for the wacky fun part!

I found a nice red pepper. One which had deep ridges, and was wide and flat (although it is very easy to "custom fit" almost any pepper to suit our purposes).
I decided which side if the pepper looked the most like a tongue, and basically remove everything else which was bulky, or "not tongue-like". I sliced off the top and remove the seeds.

Then I did a little surgery to cut away the bulky underside of the pepper, in order to m ake the tongue appear flatter, but being careful NOT to remove too much of the rounded edges and tip. If you trim it too thin, you lose that cool cartoony look. I also gave the tongue a notch, which will slip between the pumpkin's teeth, to hold it in place. Here is a simple diagram of what I did.

I compared the size of the pepper tab, with the space between the pumpkin's teeth, and used the loop tool to make the space between the teeth, the right size to accept the notch on the pepper.

Then I inserted the "tongue between the teeth, and secured it with a couple of toothpicks, which go through the pepper tab, and into the pumpkin meat.





Some finishing touches might be to paint the pupils black, and paint the teeth and eyeballs with white acrylic paint (once the exposed areas dry overnight), this looks nice, and extends the life of the pumpkin. You can also substitute a green pepper, for an ookier looking tongue.

This pumpkin should last much longer than a hollowed out jack-o-lantern, but, if I choose, I could still hollow out this guy, insert a candle, and have a grim, grinning gourd on my porch, to scare away the evil spirits! (Don't paint the teeth and eyes with white acrylic, if you want the face to glow with a candle).

The red pepper will not fair as well. After two or three days, it will get a little limp and wrinkled. So either wait to create the tongue until it is closer to the time you want to display it, or keep the tongue in the fridge when it is not needed for display. One more option is to create a few tongues, which you can replace periodically.

My pumpkin "Pepper" survived the garbage man visit, unlike his hollowed out brethren. I keep him on a plate, on my back deck, and I'm letting nature take it's course. I try to photograph his "attitude" at least once a month, and his "grim adventure" is documented on his own page.
To see "The Grim Adventures of "PEPPER"
Click Here to see the decay!

November 4, 2006
Pepper's British Cousin
Debby, from London, sent me this photo of "Pepperkin", her version of Pepper. I love it!
Let's see what the weather in England does to him!

If you have any questions or comments, email me at haunted3d@raykeim.com


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