Introduction: Dalek Pumpkin
This pumpkin is a member of an extraterrestrial race of cyborgs created by the scientist Davros during the final years of a thousand-year war against the Thals.
Step 1: Fail.
In 2013, I tried to make a Dalek pumpkin using a round one for the head and a not-round-one for the rest. I used a cookie cutter to start the hemispheres on the skirt and rounded them out, and it was moving along just fine. But then I got distracted by something shiny and let too much time pass. The pumpkin got soggy, and in the end I had a skirt but no Dalek to wear it.
Step 2: Try Again
In 2014, emboldened by gourdish experimentation, I selected a better candidate for Dalekification: a fruit of vague lineage, somewhere between a pumpkin and a gourd and possibly a zucchini?
I wanted a high degree of authenticity, so I started at http://www.projectdalek.co.uk/ (I'm pretty sure Davros started there, too). The Project Dalek folks are obsessed with this race of mutant cyborg killing machines, and are actively engaged in their propagation. Are they brainwashed puppets of Davros himself? Am I? Probably. So let me be the first to apologize, fellow humans, in case this pumpkin ends up joining the Dalek hoards that are currently massing to exterminate our species.
That said, there is a great deal to be found at Project Dalek: beautiful blueprints and photo galleries of life-size replicas and miniatures and 3D models and artwork and heated anatomical debate.
Using one of the PDFs one can download from Project Dalek (after one becomes a member of their forums) for reference, I attacked my pumpkin/gourd/thing (hereafter to be referred to as a "pumpkin") with a marker.
It is, of course, a silly idea to carve an inorganic object like a Dalek out of an organic object like a pumpkin: they are much better suited for making faces and critters and such. Keeping this in mind, I didn't worry much about keeping lines straight, I just tried to include enough important details so that the carving would read as a Dalek. So just like the real thing, there are fifty-six hemispheres on the skirt of this Dalek, situated on eleven separate panels. However, while you could ask the Project Dalek folks how many "slats" should be alongside the "gun boxes" on their Dalek, they'd be able to tell you... and I wouldn't.
I started carved away at the outer skin of the pumpkin using clay tools, concentrating at first on the part above the skirt so I had a large surface to hold onto.
Step 3: The Skirt
As I headed down the pumpkin the skin got a bit tougher, so I used a vegetable peeler to score the outer skin a bit to make it easier.
Fifty-six is an enormous number, and after carving a couple dozen hemispheres, I admit to feeling a bit stabby.
Were I to do this again, I might consider making a jig of some kind: not the cookie cutter from the ill-fated attempt of 2013, but perhaps a piece of sharpened pipe that could be whacked gently into the pumpkin to make a perfect circle. This hypothetical jig would have a ring around it (or be plugged with a cork to a given depth) so it wouldn't break all the way through when whacked. It would provide a time-saving head start and perfect sizing for each hemisphere.
Step 4: The Base
I completely ignored the correct geometry of the base, and just kind of rounded it off. I then hacked off the bottom, eviscerated the pumpkin, and set it upright.
Step 5: The Appendages: Eyestalk
Using pumpkin bits from the bottom section, I whittled the pieces of the eyestalk, stabbed them with a bamboo skewer, plugged them into place, and cut off the excess.
I used a tiny, curved chisel to drill holes in the pieces so they wouldn't split during the kebobbing process.
Step 6: The Appendages: Gun, Plunger Arm
The Dalek's gun and plunger arm were assembled just like the eyestalk. Tiny clay loops came in handy here.
Step 7: The Dome Lights
The dome lights were plugged into place with toothpicks, and the Dalek was complete!
Step 8: Paint, Run!
I added a thin wash of black acrylic paint to emphasize the topography, resulting in a creepy, battle-weary look. Usually I like to leave some skin on my pumpkin carvings so there's no mistaking that they're pumpkins, since that can sometimes be hard to see. So I tried that on the Dalek, but since the skin was green and yellow it didn't say "pumpkin" very loudly, so I just painted the dome black. I added some more black shadowing, and painted the eye and the plunger.
So now the Dalek pumpkin is sitting in my living room pretending not to be a member of an extraterrestrial race of cyborgs created by the scientist Davros during the final years of a thousand-year war against the Thals, but he's not fooling anybody.