This instructable will show you the basics for turning any pumpkin into a fun, spooky festive Halloween cooler. I've provided lots of details in my past instructables on specific carving techniques so If I move to fast in this one check out some of my others Instructables for more detailed info.
Step 1: Picking Your Gourd…..
So to begin this may seem obvious but you need to find a pumpkin that is taller than it is wide. I chose one that is about 14" H x 10" W. Keep in mind that when complete you'll want enough room inside to put a couple gallons of your favorite beverage. When choosing your pumpkin the heavier the pumpkin is compared to similar sized pumpkins the thicker the walls and better to carve into.
Step 2: Removing the Top and Gutting Your Gourd
This is the step everyone knows. Decide on the kind of top you want to have that goes with your theme then help your pumpkin flip it's lid. One thing to keep in mind. You'll definitely want to carve a shape that helps the lid or top to lock into position. The last thing you want is pumpkin cooler top that doesn't know it's place and keeps spinning around or falling off. Once you got the top off grab a spoon or some family members available hands and get messy removing that goo. My stepson thinks the inside is really gross and nasty so this part is fun for torturing him. Last year I even gave him a pumpkin innards swirly with all the seeds and guts I had collected at a pumpkin carving party:) You'll want to make sure it is nice and cleaned out though so you can put the beverage inside without pumpkin guts. As an additional step I actually rinsed my pumpkin out in the sink to get any left over junk or pieces.
Step 3: Skinning Your Pumpkin
I chose a Frankenstein idea because my gourd already reminded me of that famous monster before I even began. I was also limited on time to a few hours so I needed something I could do from my imagination without having photo reference. Once you pick your idea you need to find the most sturdy position the pumpkin naturally rests then the side you want to make your design in. With a marker identify then turn that area towards you so you can begin. Sometimes I'll put an old towel or something under my pumpkin to hold it steady and prop it into position. It also protects the back while moving it around. Next you'll need to remove the skin to be able to better define the shape or character you've decided on. Keep in mind this can be as simple or elaborate as you like…. So don't stress or chose something that's too much the first try. I started by using the large ribbon tool to scrape away the area that would define old frankies face. Initially don't remove too much because you'll need the walls to define your concept. if you remove too much initially there won't be enough left to carve into.
Step 4: Defining the Face and Adding the Spout Hole.
Once you get the skin removed and the area you want to really work on cleared it's time to get down to the real work. This is actually pretty fun because you can be a little more aggressive with the tools. It's similar to clay except as it begins to dry out and lose it's moisture it will be harder to carve details. I usually define the eyes, nose and mouth very loosely then I refine my carving until I'm happy with the finished creation. You will need to work back and forth with various tools to achieve the desired effect. Again see my Other Instructables for more specific details for tools and carving. There is no real rule, use whatever works best for you individually. Once you have roughed in idea you'll want to measure the spout opening needed and begin to remove the area so you'll have the hole to insert your spout. Also you'll need to make sure the wall is thin enough to slightly tighten the seal with the large plastic nut and (2) rubber washers on the spout. Two cautions….1.Whatever you do don't make your spout hole too low to the curve of the pumpkin or it will keep it from being flat and sealing right.2.Don't over tighten the seal on your spout to your pumpkin if you crank it too tight the pumpkin meat with split and all your beverage will leak out disastrously:(
Step 5: Details and Final Touches
As you refine and complete your design you may want to add little finishing touches and embellishments that really complete your idea. For my Frankencooler that was stitches and the bolts that remained after his surgery. For the stitches I carved incision looking grooves into Frankie in a few places then used regular staples pushed in to imitate stitches or sutures. It actually worked really well and was easy to do. For the bolts I couldn't put them in the usual place of the neck because he has no neck so I chose the temple area. I made small pilot holes the just pushed them in gently twisting using the bolts threads. Don't go all the way through or again your cooler will possibly leak valuable beverage. Depending on if you had something like red punch inside could actually be a bloody cool effect….
Step 6: The Finished Frankencooler
After all is said and done put your cooler someplace safe and sturdy and enjoy the cool or warm Halloween beverage. I did a spiked apple cider with carmel vodka. It ended up tasting like a carmel apple and everyone loved that it came from the carved Frankencooler. Additionally as an added perk afterwards you have an awesome carved pumpkin for decoration or a spooky Halloween lantern you can put out on Halloween night for the little gouls Trick or Treating. I hope you've enjoyed this Instructable please leave me comments or ideas or just follow me if you'd like to see more.