For a little seasonal fun, myself and a couple of friends took some time to carve pumpkins! Admittedly, it had been quite a while since I took up such a task. And “pumpkin” isn’t exactly my medium of choice. I was a studio art major in undergrad and as a painter by trade, I avoided sculpture classes like the plague. Despite all this, I am not one to back down from a crafting challenge, which ensured that I took on a far too ambitious project. Particularly considering that said pumpkin will (and is) deteriorating as I write.
Instead of choosing your generic jack-o’-lantern grin, I opted for something a little more inspired, as Blake would likely say. And can there be a more Blakean Halloween image than “The Ghost of a Flea”? How fantastic would that look engraved–in all its blazing, eerie glory–on a pumpkin? But since my sketching abilities outpace my carving talent, I had just signed myself up for about four and a half or so hours of work. Long after my friends had (sanely) completed their works of art, I was still carving away…
I maintain that the effort was worth it.
Onto the methods of my madness. After gutting the gourd, I drew out a somewhat simplified version of the Fleaman with a Sharpie. If free-hand isn’t your thing, try printing out the image you want to carve and taping it to the pumpkin. Then you can carve light guidelines right through the paper, allowing you to keep the original proportions without drawing. But all that’s the easy part. The carving is not.
I had forgotten how thick a pumpkin was. This is problematic for executing smooth, rounded lines as well as any attempts at “shading”. There were some delusions of grandeur at work, leading me to believe that I’d be able to give our Fleaman some muscle tone by carving different depths into the surface. Much more difficult than it looked, I scraped away some slight variation to the bowl and shooting star and left it at that.
Carving the outlines of the form took the longest. I was perpetually fearful that I’d accidentally punch part of the comet, or even his arm, right through. Thankfully, no disaster occurred and our pumpkin Fleaman was safely realized on this side of Eternity. Most of my line-work is still visible, but this isn’t a problem; it won’t be visible when the lantern is lit up at night.
Since I have no place for him at my residence, he currently resides (until the squirrels feast) at the house of another Archive assistant. Situated right on the front porch, Blake’s “Ghost of a Flea” is ready to absolutely confuse all the little trick-or-treaters on Sunday.