Had a great dinner tonight with great friends to the point I’m completely stuffed. Normally I would tie on some running shoes and run off my overindulgence. Alas, I’m laid up for about 7 more days – fall back plan, I’ll be skipping some meals tomorrow. Being as I’m basically just sitting around watching the Illini basketball team figured there was no reason to not be productive in some manner. Hmmmm, what to do, what to do. Oh, I know, how about showing off this year’s addition to the Halloween pumpkin collection.
This is a bit of a departure for me. Normally I tend to play in the darker side of Halloween. Ghouls, goblins, demons and other haunting topics have been the go to choice for my pumpkin slashing. Maybe I am getting soft in my new life phase north of 50. I suspect this is a natural reflex having immersed myself in all things evil for my Haunted Halloween Trail (yes, I’ll be recounting that project soon) – just a karma correcting action to keep myself grounded in sanity. Regardless, it is what it is – my latest offering is for the birds – Hummingbirds to be exact. I wanted something in the birth theme this year. Started out looking at Owls, but then stumbled on a number of nice Hummingbird outlines. It is no secret I hang out in tattoo and stenciling forums to get my creative ideas for pumpkin carving. Before I go any further, DISCLAIMER: the rights to the original templates used for my pumpkin pattern remain with the author. I am only using these for non-profit personal use. Hummingbirds are a very popular theme for tattoos. If you want to waste a day, start googling for bird tattoos and start perusing the massive number of returned hits (warning, expect nudity to be in those returned images). I had already captured a collection of nice Hummers for a project I was considering previous to this. Just went back to that collection and picked out three designs that I thought looked cool and were carve friendly. Only thing missing was a nice flower to tie it all together. Turns out there was a nice flower stencil already in that collection (came as a side decoration to one of the Hummer designs). Key was to have at least three flowers that I could align my bird designs to. Worked them up in Paint Shot Pro, positioned and flipped the birds to align with the available flowers and presto… pumpkin design.
Hit the jump to learn more details about this traditional Halloween project.
Since I was going a bit cutesy this year, wanted to compensate with a more technical cut. Usually I’ll simplify the pattern to make it easier during the cutting phase. None of that wussy stuff this year – full on intricate detail. Take my time and do it right. Once the pattern was printed out, the hands were given some memory imprinting through cutting out the design with an Xacto knife. This gives me a feel for how hard the cuts are going to be ahead of time and validates that the pattern is true – all too often these days I am seeing people post invalid patterns simply shopped onto pumpkins – a quick look at the cuts (yes, I take into account half cuts) reveal there are areas of no supports. I Feel sorry for people getting fooled after spending hours and money on a nice pumpkin only to get screwed when that detailed section just falls in. This pattern came out perfect – just need to transfer it to the foam pumpkin. Simply trace the holes with a fine lined permanent marker.
The easy part is done now – time to head into the lab and prep the instruments of destruction. Based on the success of the last pumpkin I carved (link here), pulled out the hot knife tool along with my new battery operated Micro Dremel. The long smooth lines were cut with the knife. That tool will give you the cleanest cuts (and keep your room the cleanest ha). It isn’t good for tight turns, but use it as much as possible. Note, I do not put the hole in the back of the pumpkin until the very end. This will allow the pumpkin pieces and dust to fall inside the pumpkin instead of falling all over the floor – a Linda two thumbs up tip for the day! It took me about 2.5 hours to get all the long cuts with the hot knife the way I wanted them.
This left the curves of the flowers and the tight turns at various points in the Hummer patterns. This when I fired up the Dremel with the straight cut bit from Craftsman – nice skinny shaft with vertical cutters about 1/2″ up from bottom. After using this on my first pumpkin, I can officially say I am a Micro Dremel fan. Loved it – especially the nice light built into the end of the tool so you can see what you are doing. Might want to have a shop vac hose near your cutting area to cut down on the foam dust. I even wear a dust mask as an extra precaution. Add in another 1 hours or so with the Dremel and this was the result.
Of course, you really don’t get the full effect until the lights go out.
Pretty cool if I do say so myself. If that isn’t a design to please a birder’s heart I don’t know what it would be. I will say this is a delicate pattern. You want to be very careful you are not applying too much pressure to the face of the pumpkin when you are cutting on it. It is tempting to rest your hand on it to steady it – I do work out to in and top to bottom as a general rule. This keeps the side of my palm from engaging with the fragile cutouts. Can’t wait to see this on the shelf next to the rest of my pumpkins next year. May have to set it off a bit from the other more traditional scary Halloween patterns – don’t want to give those cute Hummers sleepless nights!