The blog of photographer and musician, Kim Ayres

Hallowe’en

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For decades, at this time of year I’ve battled away with carving turnips into basic lanterns.

And while the turnip flesh gets recycled into soup, stews or mashed neeps, uncooked it’s a tough, unwieldy vegetable where you’re as likely to remove a finger as you are create a hollow to contain a candle.

So I have to admit to a sense of relief at the gradual importing of the culture of Halloween pumpkins from the US. They are infinitely easier to carve and, as I’m beginning to find out, offer greater versatility.

For the past couple of Halloweens I’ve just done the 3 triangles for eyes & nose and some kind of squiggle for a mouth, but this year I discovered you can create a secondary layer of pumpkin carving by removing the outer skin, but not all the way through the flesh.

Of course the Americans and Canadians have known this for centuries, but here in the Ayres household it has come as something of a revelation.

Although my first attempt at this style of carving is not going to win any prizes, at least the kids were thrilled with it, which is all that matters. I’ll leave the super fancy ones until next year.


Personally I felt quite smug about carving a self-referential pumpkin on the pumkin...

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27 comments

Charlie said...

You're giving Americans too much credit for smartness, Kim. 98% of the carving population still do the 3 triangles for eyes & nose and some kind of squiggle for a mouth.

Your Jack-o-Lantern is exceptionally good.

savannah said...

holy moley, sugarpie! that is fantastic charlie's right, you give us far to much credit for imagination and style! ;) xoxox

Brave Astronaut said...

I will try and post my pumpkin pictures at some point. I made one of them into an Barack O'Lantern, using the sunrise logo.

If I get any peanut butter M&Ms while out trick or treating with Little Brave Astronaut, maybe I'll put them in the mail to you :)

Archivalist said...

Excellent carving, Kim. Still have 10 fingers?

In a kid-less house, Halloween has become the one holiday where you feel you should be celebrating, but just can't figure out how. Or what.

Eryl said...

That looks pretty super fancy to me.

Fat Lazy Guy said...

Dude, that's awesome! I've always wanted to carve a pumpkin, but I'm not sure if pumpkins are in season over here.

debra said...

Here is my second attempt to comment:
We tried to carve a turnip one year---not so easy and a lot of work for minimal results.
My husband was always the carver of the pumpkin with our girls. #2 daughter usually came up with a prett interesting design.
Today, the only pumpkin I buy is in a can.
Yours is fantastic.

Kanani said...

It looks really great, Kim!
I myself stick to the standard pumpkin cutting routine.

FYI, you can cut it in pieces afterwards and roast it. Also, save the seeds --you can roast those with a big of salt & pepper.

problemchildbride said...

That's smashing, Kim! Smashing Pumpkins!

I saw some excellent ones t-or-ting last night. Brilliant Barack carvings, and horses and a whole bunch of things.

I love pumpkins and agree they're much better but for me there's something missing about this time of year without the smell of singed turnip.

amy flege said...

wow.. it looks great!! you beat mine this year!

Kim Ayres said...

Charlie & Savannah - after I'd carved it I googled Pumpkin Carving and there are some truly phenomenal carvings and acts of creativity out there - mostly in the US

Brave Astronaut - get your photo up - I want to see your carving!

Archivalist - you need to throw a fancy dress party for adults

Eryl - did you click on any of the links?

FLG - ah, a Southern Hemisphere dilemma. I hadn't considered that!

Debra - does the pumpkin in a can come ready carved? ;)

Kanani - Maggie usually does something like that with the seeds. We'll probably pass on the roasting it bit though as it was in ancredibly sorry looking pumpkin. There was only one other left in the store (and every other store sold out), and that was even worse. I figured in the dark you'd only see the glow, not the state of the skin...

Sam - you're right about the smell of burnt turnip - it's very evocative of childhood

Amy - so are you going to post a pic of yours?

PI said...

I'd like to have a Daddy like you. BTW we grow pumpkins in England. Do they not in Scotland? Mind you they have been bashed with the weather this year.

Amy said...

Great Pumpkin! I am impressed.

Kim Ayres said...

Pat - I'll give you a warm, fatherly hug anytime :)

Amy - thank you :)

Eryl Shields said...

Lor, I see what you mean! Fancy is very fancy indeed.

MikeP said...

I don't even know where I would buy a turnip, let alone figure out how to carve one. Plenty of pumpkins, but no turnips at the old Wal-Mart.

Conan Drumm said...

Is that a boot, with a high heel, in there to the right of your post-modern pumpkin in a pumpkin?

Jupiter's Girl said...

I love your pumpkin carving. I didn't know that trick of peeling it. This was the first year in forever that we even bought a pumpkin (one big and two little ones). My daughter exerted pressure, so I bought them. She's been so deprived. Her friends all live in subdivisions and decorate for every holiday, or season. We don't have neighbors so I just didn't think it was important. We just cut the big one open last night, never carved it, and she baked the seeds. Now, I can't throw the pumpkin away. I'll have to figure out how to cook it or something. It's why I never bought one in the past - decorations were not in my budget.

Your Mom was right about spending money on essentials, and the rest on art. There's a value in making a home look or feel beautiful that is just as life-giving as food is.

Kim Ayres said...

Eryl - I don't know whether it inspires me or just makes me want to give up now...

MikeP - try a greengrocer, or even try asking for a swede (not a Scandinavian).

Conan - it was supposed to be a castle, but yes, I did notice afterwards the resemblance to a high-heeled boot and haven't been able to see anything other since.

JG - soup. Use the flesh for pumkin soup. Add some sweet potatoes, slow-fried onions and whatever else you like to make soup with. It's good :)

Angie in Texas said...

what a GREAT carving job! (sure beats the construction paper animals/creatures we made. it's too hot and humid here to carve them - they'd only last a day before getting all gross.)

Kim Ayres said...

Angie - this one only lasted for one night with a candle inside. After than it shrivelled so the picture was unrecognisable. Perhaps I scraped out too much from the inside...

Carole said...

Nice pumpkin. Nice artwork. I feel a little wounded that triangles are outdated in the carving world. I am good at triangles.

Kim Ayres said...

Carole - triangles will never be outdated in the pumpkin carving world. I've just never been one for sticking to orthodoxy for very long

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

I am glad to hear the high-heeled shoe WITH A MALE SYMBOL ATOP IT was not deliberately self-referential. But maybe you should explore your inner Franken Furter.

Kim Ayres said...

Daphne - I was watching The Rocky Horror Show just the other week. Only now do I realise the subliminal influence :)

freakazojd said...

That IS fantastic, indeed! No wonder your kids were well pleased with it! :)

Kim Ayres said...

Thanks Freakazojd :)

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