Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Serious Jack-o-Lanterns

Back when I was a kid, making a jack-o-lantern meant risking cutting off your fingers (or your entire hand) using a giant carving knife to dig out rough triangles for eyes and a nose and adding a jagged mouth for scariness.
But with the current wide availability of pumpkin-carving tools, stencils, and on-line tutorials, even a non-artist like me can create a great-looking jack-o-lantern with minimal risk to my extremities. Print out a stencil, tape it to a pumpkin, use a sharp poker to outline each shape, then use the tiny jigsaw to cut from dot to dot, as if doing a child’s numbered dot-to-dot puzzle. It requires patience and accuracy more than it does any kind of artistic skill.
The first pumpkins I ever carved as an adult were for my husband’s college homecoming: his fraternity logo on one and his class year and the Dartmouth “D” on the other.
It was quick, it was easy, it was fun, and I was hooked. So in succeeding years, I’ve gotten a bit more brave and daring each Halloween, and this year I carved Tinkerbell for my daughter and Jake from “Jake and the Neverland Pirates” for my son.

I was pretty impressed with the results, and I dare say my kids were pretty impressed, too. And for an unskilled amateur, I have to say that those are two good-looking pumpkins. But they’re nothing compared to what a pumpkin can become in the hands of a true artist. Check out some of these amazing jack-o-lanterns!
Some art requires more than one pumpkin, such as this beautiful geometric snake.
Some pumpkin artists don’t carve holes in the pumpkin, but instead sculpt the pumpkin’s pale flesh into terrifying creatures.
Some replicate great works of art in a new medium.

Many are based on movies or other pop culture references.

But my favorites are the funny-and-just-a-tiny-bit-creepy ones that make Halloween fun but with a bit of an edge.

But if you think a jack-o-lantern like those is beyond your capabilities, there’s still one easy way to modernize your pumpkin without getting quite so complicated.
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