Every year I carve plenty of pumpkins. This year however, I realized we forgot to plant proper pumpkins for carving and so I only had a huge zucchini pumpkin to play with. This wasn't the first time I carved a long and thin pumpkin but it was the first time I had only one real pumpkin to carve and so I decided to appoint my spare time to documenting the process and shareing some tips and tricks you may appreciate when tackling a similar challenge.
In this Instructable I will teach you:
- How to easily hollow a zucchini
- How to carve it so it's structural integrity isn't compromised
- How to modify the candle so it illuminates tall pumpkins better
- A whole bunch of other tricks you can use with carving pumpkins of all shapes and sizes
Step 1: Preparing a Zucchini
I like to store my pumpkins somewhere cold and humid - that prevents them from withering too fast. A few hours before carving however, I like to take them inside for them to warm up. This makes it possible to draw on them with a permanent marker. You will find out why that is so important a few steps later.
As you can see on the image above, my zucchini was almost 70cm (2.2ft) long. For those of you asking yourselves "But aren't zucchini those small thin pumpkins I eat throughout the summer?" The answer is Yes, Yes they are. This one just happened to be forgotten in our garden and left to grow beyond all limits. And I can tell you this: next year it will be left to grow on purpose :)
Step 2: Cutting the Top
The easiest way to open any pumpkin is carve out it's top using zai-zag pattern. If you are doing it for the first time, use a permanent marker to draw the pattern like I did. Best way to cut a zig-zag pattern is to place knife's tip in one of indented corners and tapping it so it cuts through pumpkin's wall. Repeat that twice for each "tooth".
On top of being the easiest, Zig-zag cut is also by far the safest way of cutting pumpkins open as it keeps your hands away from sharp blade.
Note that cuts must not be made vertical to ground as that would let the "hat" fall inside your pumpkin and you won't be able to get it out. This can't really be a problem with thin and tall pumpkin such as mine but keep that in mind for when you will be carving regular pumpkins.
Important! Where you will want to cut the top off depends on diameter of your pumpkin. You can estimate what the size of the opening will be by subtracting about 4 cm from diameter of your pumpkin (walls are roughly 2 cm thick). Keep in mind you have to be able to fit your hand through the hole to empty your pumpkin! If you would have to cut your pumpkin very low and that would make you run out of pumpkin to carve, there is a solution for this: make the cut at an angle. Make sure that higher part of this cut will be facing forward (where you want to carve your pumpkin).
Step 3: Hollowing Your Zucchini
All you need to hollow your pumpkin is a spoon or just your fingernails. Finding someone with skinny arms wouldn't hurt but if you aren't too muscular and you cut your pumpkin at correct height, you shouldn't have any real problems.
Step 4: Marking Out the Cuts
I am not the tipe of person who designs my pumpkin on a computer and transfers the pattern on a pumpkin. I prefer looking at a pumpkin and sketching directly on my workpiece. If you let your pumpkin warm up to room temperature, that can be done using a regular permanent marker. If you don't like the design, permanent marker can be removed with a wet rug within first few minutes.
I couldn't manage to make a good photo of my sketch on a pumpkin so I used Photoshop to highlight my sketch. Note how I left quite a bit of room on the bottom. That is where the candle will be. For optimal light candle must be below lowest opening.
Step 5: Cutting!
I like to trace the lines with a Letraset (X-acto) knife and remove just a little bit of material around the cut so I can't miss the line later on through the process. If you miss a line, don't worry. No one said you can't alter the original sketch. In fact I do that all the time even if I don't mess up :)
Step 6: Making a Chimney
For a tiny little tea candle to properly illuminate such a tall pumpkin, we need to provide enough oxygen. That can be achieved by establishing a flow of fresh air, powered by raising of hot air.
That calls for a hole below the candle and another one a the very top. I did this with an apple kernel remover but it can easily be achieved by using a hand drill or by making a simple triangular hole by stabbing the pumpkin three times with a thin knife. If you are wondering if that really matters: if you have a big open mouth near bottom of your pumpkin, it isn't so important. If not, CO2 buildup will extinguish your pumpkin in matter of minutes.
Note that both bottom and top hole should be facing backwards so they won't be visible when you put your pumpkin on display.
In my design the bottom opening also served for lighting the candle as it couldn't be reached otherwise.
Step 7: Overclocking a Candle
We now have a decent oxygen supply for our candle, time to make it glow brighter!
Let's start with how candles work. First you light up the wick. It then melts surrounding wax, which gets sucked up the wick through capillary action and once it vaporises, it burns.
So if we want a bigger flame, we need a bigger wick to help wax vaporise faster. That can be easily achieved by taking a piece of tissue and placing it over a lit candle as shown in pictures above.
Note that wax must be molten to it gets sucked up the tissue or all you will achieve is burning a piece of tissue.
Step 8: Minor Fixes
Once you are at this stage, you can finally light up your pumpkin for the first time and see how it looks. In my case I had to thin ut the eyes a little bit so they had a brighter glow. Once I was satisfied I also carved a tiny grumpy pumpkin to go along my big derpy one.
Step 9: Wrapping Up
I hope this instructable inspired you to tackle carving a weird pumpkin next season.
If you liked this instructable please vote for me in pumpkin carving contest! If you have any questions or ideas, please leave them in comments below.