I’m actually embarrassingly excited to share this post with you today. For the first time ever, this Halloween I’ve carved my very own pumpkin! Can you believe I have got through twenty eight years without ever carving a pumpkin? Ridiculous huh? I’m sure my mum will read this post and say ‘nonsense you carved a plenty when you were little!’ but if I did so when I was younger I don’t remember. And if I had know it was this fun I would have been doing it every year believe me!
Anyway last weekend we had friends staying and they very kindly bought us a pumpkin to say thank you, to which I got rather over excited about. He was a beaut – little, round and fat – the perfect size for a pumpkin novice like me!
I’m a couple of days late in revealing him but as I’m sure you can appreciate I wanted to get him just right and with Halloween falling on a weekday, pumpkin carving opportunities ahead of the 31st were limited! Anyhoo I’m figuring that most people will be celebrating this weekend and so today is the perfect day to show him off!
Seeing as going into this, I had absolutely no idea how to go about creating a pumpkin paddy, I thought I’d share my tips with you, in case you too are attempting a funny faced orange creation this weekend!
So here is how Paddy came to be…
1. Choose your design and gather some inspiration – if like me you haven’t gone about this before then it might help to do a little Google/ Pinterest search and get an idea of the type of face design you want to create before getting the knife out. I wanted a cheeky face rather than a scary one and after watching this tutorial loved the idea of rounded eyes and fleshy details so searched for some pics which combined those things and kept them on my iPad as a guide while I carved.
2. Gather your tools – according to all of the guides you need a perforated knife and a smaller saw to do the details but if like me you have neither of those things then improvise. I used a larger knife for the big cuts, a smaller angled knife to get into the curves and a pen knife for the details. I also had a skewer to help pull out the pieces and touch up any details, a large spoon (ice cream scoop works well if you have one) to scrape out the seeds, and a palette knife to get into the corners.
3. Cut your lid off – first off you have to decide whether you want your lid at the top of the bottom of the pumpkin, for a traditional design (like Paddy) go for the top but if you want to put a light source in rather than candles go bottom. I cut mine in a zig zag effect and used my large perforated knife to do so. As you pull the lid out cut off the seeds and moosh that is attached and set the lid aside to use later.
4. Remove the insides – you can tell why this is a Halloween activity as it really is rather ghoulish at times. Once you have a hole in the top of your pumpkin, use your spoon/ ice cream scoop to scrape all of the seeds from the edges then tip your pumpkin upside down into a large bowl to get it all out. You will then need to spend a bit of time with your palette knife scraping the remainder of the membrane from the sides as otherwise it comes through when you start to carve (as I found out).
5. Draw your design – once your inside is hollow, the fun part begins. You can either draw a template for your face beforehand and stick that on to guide you or you can free style like me! Using a felt tip or biro pen to draw a light outline of your chosen face and remember to mark the areas you want to be fleshy, like the eyes and teeth, if you want those details so that you don’t forget to cut around those.
6. Start carving – I started with the eyes and used a pen knife to do these smaller areas. Make sure your cutting all the way through otherwise it can be tricky trying to get the shape out. Once cut you should just be able to push the piece out from the inside. For larger areas such as the mouth I found it easier to use my bigger curved knife.
7. Add the details – for the eyes and teeth I used my pen knife to carve very lightly into the skin of the pumpkin so that I could peel that off and leave the fleshy part behind and then I used a black marker pen (which may be ruined forever) to draw on googly eyes and blackened teeth.
9. Keep him fresh – all of the tutorials I read said that in order to keep your pumpkin fresh for longer rub a little vaseline on the inside of the flesh so that it doesn’t go brown. (I’m not sure if you should still do this if you want to eat the pumpkin afterwards however so for now I have left mine au naturale.)
10. Add candles – light a couple of tea lights and place inside your pumpkin and you will immediately see him transform. It was only at this point that the name Pumpkin Paddy came to me as he suddenly looked so cheeky, and a little Irish!
I’m so pleased with how Paddy turned out and the process took much less time than I thought! Happy Halloween everyone!