The blog of photographer Kim Ayres

Pumpkin Carving

For many years, creating a vegetable-based lantern at Halloween meant hours of hard graft with a knife and a turnip. Designs were pretty basic because carving a turnip is only moderately less difficult than carving a lump of granite with a plastic umbrella.

However, a few years ago I progressed to the North American imported idea of pumpkins and have never looked back.

Maggie might complain that Halloween isn't the same without the smell of burnt neeps, but as far as I'm concerned, it's a small price to pay to avoid a sprained wrist.

Last year my son, Rogan, decided he fancied a go, and I was rather impressed with his first attempt (see Halloween Pumpkins), which was considerably more creative than my early constructions.

This year we took advantage of the local supermarket's "2 for £3" offer once again and both spent a few hours cutting, scooping and sculpting this most versatile of vegetables.

Modesty aside, I think we've both created our best ones to date

Rogan's pumpkin with the lights on

Rogan's pumpkin with the lights off

Kim's pumpkin with the lights on

Kim's pumpkin with the lights off


KamilleE said...

The last one looks freaky!

It all looks like such hard work! I'd just go and buy a plastic pumpkin! Wait, plastic would melt if I put the candle in.

Anyway, Happy Halloween!

Anonymous said...

It's good to see your continued tradition of posting your pumpkins (lit and unlit). I like them both! They complement one another.
I didn't know pumpkin carving originated on this side of the Atlantic. What's "burnt neeps"?

Anonymous said...

I forgot to ask..did your blog become paler?

Kim Ayres said...

Kamille - the smell of burnt plastic just isn't the same... ;)

Allen - "neeps" is the Scots word for turnips - as in "neeps and tatties" (turnips and potatoes)

And yes, the site is now white rather than brown. I got fed up with the brown. I'm not completely convinced by the white either, but it will do until I can figure out what design to go for next :)

Titus said...

I'm so impressed! Never thought of using the flesh for form too.

I think Scottish turnips are actually swedes, but I get shouted at a lot for saying this.

angryparsnip said...

Fabulous pumpkins !
I was just telling my daughter about your turnip carving from last year or the year before ? and then there was your post. I looked up last years and I loved the photos of you and Rogan.

I carved so many pumpkins over the years that now I have a very plain terra cotta one that goes outside just for me. Where I live now we don't get any trick or treaters. Poor kid would have to walk a mile to get from house to house.

cheers. parsnip

Anonymous said...

WOW...excellent pumpkin both did a fantastic job creating scary pumpkin lanterns

when my almost 46 year old son was small my pumpkin cutting was primitive to say the least...triangle cuts for eyes and nose and a big curved smile, maybe with a tooth or two...and if I was lucky my fingers ended up with no cuts

Happy Halloween to you and family!

A Daft Scots Lass said...

Brilliant JOB!!!

neena maiya (guyana gyal) said...

Ohmegosh, those things are scarrrRRey! What details. You and Rogan are bad, Kim, baaaad! It's a good thing I didn't see this last night!

You could make posters with these pictures now.

Pat said...

They are both excellent and amazing. Thank Heaven you discovered the pumpkin. My bones ache at the thought of carving a turnip.

Ponita in Real Life said...

Wonderful pumpkins, Kim! The teeth on yours are fantastic!! Who would have thought big square chompers could look so creepy when lit from the inside?

Aoife.Troxel said...

Great carving jobs, the pumpkins look quite frightening!
We also bought two pumpkins but no carving this year. The first rotted into mush before we could stop it. The second became pumpkin pie. Mmmmm :)

Kim Ayres said...

Titus - My first few pumpkins were just triangle eyes - much like the turnip lanterns I used to create, but then one day I typed "pumpkin carving" into google images and was blown away by the creativity out there and felt I had to give it a go.

And yes, I had swede/turnip confusion when I first moved to Scotland too :)

Parsnip - ever tried carving a parsnip?

Theanne & Baron - as I said to Titus above, it was only when I stumbled across pumpkin carving on google images did I start trying something more adventurous :)

Gillian - thank you :)

Guyana-Gyal - do you do much vegetable carving in Guyana?

Pat - sprained wrists, siezed thumbs and the ever-present danger of a slipped knife slicing deep into a finger are what I think of when turnips are mentioned

Ponita - I've always maintained I do more dental owrk in photoshop than anything else after a photo shoot. It appears the same thing seems to be happening with my pumpkin carving...

Aoife - I normally take some of the pumkin flesh out of the middle which Maggie then turns into soup, but this year I wasn't thinking and cut the hole in the top too small so I couldn't cut around the indside at the right angle without risking sticking the knife through in the wrong place. Hopefully I'll remember not to make the same mistake next time :)

KamilleE said...

@ Kim. So the pumpkin burns? Do you eat it after?

Kim Ayres said...

Kamille - it all depends on the size of the candle you stick in it :)

Actually pumpkins are usually large enough so that a tea-light or 2 won't make any difference. But back in the days when turnips were usually carved to make lanterns for Halloween, it was common for the flames of the candle to scorch the lid of the lantern, as they were much smaller. So burnt turnip smell is very evocative of Halloween :)

Eric Fischer said...

Aces - or should I say, 'double lanterns - all the way!'

debra said...

At my house:
pumpkin#1:squash blossoms,
pumpkin#2: guy in a kilt yelling "freedom"

hope said...

How did I miss such a wonderful tribute to the lowly pumpkin? :)

Okay, I say lowly only because I don't care for the taste but Hubby loves pumpkin pie...but he's currently cut out sweets, so no pie for him. Thus no pumpkin for us.

neena maiya (guyana gyal) said...

Vegetable carving is completely foreign to us.

I've recently met one woman whose teaching herself, she has all the tools...but she's from one of those Eastern European places.

Unknown said...

Wow. Love the pumpkins. Very imaginative. Still looks like a lot of work, even if it isn't a turnip.

Mimi and Tilly said...

These are brilliant! I love the teeth on your design Kim. Scary and kind of cheeky all at the same time. Thank you for your comment on my blog. I haven't heard that story before, and love it. I actually found it quite moving to read it. Thank you. Em :)

Kim Ayres said...

Eric - thank you :)

Debra - photos?

Hope - we didn't eat any of it, but did enjoy carving them :)

Guyana-Gyal - people from some of the Eastern European places can be very practical :)

Carole - it is a lot of work, but more rewarding than turnips :)

Em - I think the teeth are what seem to make or break the pumpkin. All the best carvings I've seen have wonderful teeth :)

Ruth Kelly said...

That takes pumpkin carving to a totally different level.

Kim Ayres said...

Ruth - not really - if you type "pumpkin carving" into Google, you'll see many that are far, far superior to my efforts :)

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