Today’s post is from SB Atlanta writer Katherine Michalak :
Although stores debut HallowThanksMas displays well before the new crayon smell dissipates from the Back-To-School aisle, Pinterest cranks up holiday project pressure ALL. YEAR. LONG. Right now, beautiful boards show fanciful fall and Halloween vignettes, artfully crafted from pumpkins, foliage and whatever seems to be “on hand” around the house. (Apparently, some Pinterest aficianados have all sorts of fabulous crafty items within arm’s reach at all times. Personally, were I to start a board on my Pinterest page featuring projects made with the supplies I have “on hand,” you’d see more Nerf darts and Legos than glitter.)
This year, after several seasons of gawking and craft voyeurism, I decided to embrace the madness and attempt to recreate a few Pinterest pumpkin projects for my own front porch. (People do this all the time, right?) And to go one step further, I gathered some neighborhood pals to join me in my quest. Will our pumpkin projects pan out? As you’ll see, it’s going to require a group effort … and beer.
First, pick your project:
Selecting possible designs requires full submission to the Pinterest vortex. Each pin takes the onlooker deeper down a rabbit hole, from one board to the next, leaving me to wonder if there’s a secret coven of craft witches out there, or maybe a strange religious cult — The Pinnonites, I’ll call them. Disorienting swirls of glitter and magic glue guns cast a DIY spell after a few hypnotizing clicks, and I fear I may find myself huddled in a corner whittling on root vegetables with pair of cuticle scissors. I eventually snap out of my reverie with a few projects in mind for the party and make my supply list.
Before your party, prep the pumpkins:
Lest we spend the entire afternoon scooping out seeds, we encouraged our guests to plan ahead and bring their own supplies and ready pumpkins. We also bought extra pumpkins to have on hand and spent time the day before hollowing some out and spray-painting others. That’s a decorating reality-check moment … spreading out a tarp on the patio, masking up and checking wind direction before wielding a can of Krylon on some squash. First world problems.
Our testing entourage arrived very prepared and enthusiastic. The activity, involving knives and power tools, successfully rallied willing spousal participation and kids a-plenty, all thrilled to make a colossal mess. The chosen Pinterest pictures and descriptions all looked simple, of course.
I thought I’d only invited a few fellow gawkers. Little did I realize there was a ringer among us — a veritable sculptor who, for years, has used pumpkin flesh as his chosen medium. He even proposed to his wife by spelling out “Will You Marry Me?” in pumpkins, a year after their Halloween first date. With a nimble quickdraw á la Wyatt Earp, he rolled out a full set of tools on the plastic-covered table, eliciting panicked gasps from the other men-folk. He swears by wood-working implements. Whatever, Mr. Miyagi, wax-on, wax-off … we are not worthy.
Martha Stewart agrees that the tools can make all the difference. She, too, advocates carpentry utensils along with kitchen gadgets such as scrapers and melon-ballers, art supplies sold for sculpting, and additional hardware-store finds like linoleum cutters and sheetrock handsaws. Dern, if she’s not right about that sheetrock saw! That thing zipped through precise cuts with no problem at all. Not sure if she discovered this while decorating for a country club gala or pondering a prison-yard shiv … either way it works. Another game-changing find, the PumpkinMasters® Jack O’Ripper Scraper Scoop™, streamlines the gutting process significantly.
We not only survived this venture, we prevailed, quite possibly initiating a new neighborhood tradition. Perhaps our resident Gourd Guru will offer tutorials in the meantime. Carve on, SquashMeisters, CARVE ON!
- Make sure the pumpkin shell is clean and dry before you start.
- Lightly-sand the surface with fine-grit sandpaper to help with paint adhesion.
(Yes, I just told you to sand a vegetable.)
- Acrylic, latex, and spray paints seem to work best. Craft poster paints peel right off.
- If you’re really hard-core, use a varnish or sealant on the finished design.
Mold is nemesis of the Jack O’ Lantern, particularly in our warm, humid Southern climate. I scoured different sites for thoughts on increasing pumpkin longevity. There’s a product on the market called Pumpkin Fresh that’s getting decent reviews, but you can also spray your pumpkin regularly with a mild bleach solution (like Clorox Clean-up Spray) to inhibit mold-growth. We’re keeping our successful creations in the basement refrigerator (NOT the freezer) until later in October, though I’m not sure if this will help. As for the rejects, well, um… have we discussed the benefits of composting for the garden?