Monday, October 31, 2011

I Made This: Death Star Jack-O-Lantern

Happy Halloween!

This year I decided that I wanted to carve a pumpkin. In the past, pumpkin carving was going over to someone’s house, having a pumpkin placed in front of me, thinking for a minute, seeing what everyone else is doing, sighing and then resorting to the classic triangles for eyes and nose pattern.

However, recently I have taken on this “Go big or go home,” mantra in my life, so if I was going to really do Halloween crafts, I was going to do Halloween crafts. When I was first brainstorming about my pumpkin (slow news day), I thought I should do something lovely and classy. How would Martha Stewart or other people from Connecticut carve their pumpkins?

And then I decided on the Death Star of Star Wars fame.

Upon seeing the final product, a friend’s fiancé questioned why a bunch of girls would be so into Stars Wars that they would carve a pumpkin in the shape of chez Darth Vader.

I am pretty sure that I made some sort of nasal sound effect and rolled my eyes.

First, I want to make clear that I don’t live in my parents’ basement, and I don’t have a bunch of cats.

Second,  I have only meet this fiancé once and it was during a dinner party where I am pretty sure that someone spiked the chicken rolls since it got pretty ridiculous pretty fast. Alien abduction stories were discussed.  So maybe his point of reference of me and the friends that helped with the pumpkin is a little skewed. I should invite the happy couple over for tea and have a discussion on ongoing human right abuses in the world.

Third, Star Wars is the movie that I best acquaint with happy times of my childhood. It is the first movie that I can remember being fascinated with, as opposed to E.T. which scared the bejezus of out me.  Stars Wars was just big, in every way. It had good guys to cheer for, bad guys to boo. It had a big Wookie and a wise little green Yoda. It told the story of an underdog that was asked or called to do something that at first he thought he couldn’t do. And it had a pretty strong female character, which wasn’t that common. Sure, Princess Leia got captured and had to be rescued more than once, but she also fought alongside all the boys. And of course, in the end it taught us that even after devastating loses, good can still win, and you should always celebrate victories with a dance party.

So with all being said, behold the transformation from harvest gourd to a star of death:

I found the instructions, tips and patterns for the pumpkin from this website. Its creator’s gets all the credit and glory, below is my interpretation of said instructions:

Pick a pumpkin canvas. I had high hopes of frolicking in a local pumpkin patch with a cute scarf and boots, on a crisp autumn day, finding the perfect pumpkin and ending my day with apple cider donuts. In reality, I got my pumpkin on my way home from work in the produce department of the supermarket in between the red onions and potatoes.
I was sure to find one that was pretty uniformly rounded, instead of flat sided. The pumpkin I choose was smaller than the one used in the online example.

The majority of this pumpkin is skinned (carving just the top layer of skin) as opposed to the traditional way of cutting all the way through. This means that you have to clean out the pumpkin’s innards extremely well, so the candle that will eventually be placed inside the pumpkin will shine through the skin.
 My pumpkin had a lot of goop.

The Death Star begins to take shape. The online instructions mentioned a couple different carving tools needed for the project and that they should be available at any craft store. I found out though, that any craft store doesn’t include going to Michael’s the Friday before Halloween, scouring through all the picked over Halloween stuff, settling for a random wood carving set, and then standing in a mile long line because the so called, “Halloween Headquarters” only has 2 people working. Moral of the story: plan ahead.
I started by carving the familiar middle part and the circle for the laser beam. I tried but couldn’t find any red lights to put in the laser beam hole.  I then divided the sections above and below the middle part into rectangular sections, each to be individually carved.

The finished product! The online example used more creativity in carving all the little squares; I ended up just using the same 4 patterns over and over again.

And all lit up!

I started around 11 a.m. and finished just before 6pm.  But during this time, I also took a lunch break, talked to housemates that wandered into the kitchen, went in search of warm fuzzy socks because my feet got cold, watched the snow fall, and got sucked into the Project Runway finale (I very much disagree with who won).

I am pretty proud of my first attempt at pumpkin art, and I am happy to report that I still have all my fingers, and no band aids were needed! 

I think the seal of approval came when I pulled up to my house tonight, the pumpkins were all out and lit up, and there was a little boy just sitting on the ground cross legged staring at our Death Star. His dad had encourage him to get up and go knock on our door for candy.  Indoctrinating the youth. That is what Halloween is all about!

I really, really want to explode my Death Star Pumpkin, just like the real Death Star, followed by a dance party, of course. I am trying to figure out how to do so without the involvement of emergency rooms, police/fire departments and our very vigilant Neighborhood Watch. I'll keep you posted

And an added bonus of pumpkin carving: roasting the seeds!


  1. I feel the need to defend said fiance - He did like the Death Star pumpkin!

  2. I LOVE the pumpkin. Awesome job. And - I had no thoughts as to why a girl would be doing death star pumpkin carvings. I mean, what girl doesn't like Star Wars?

  3. Does said fiance belong to the Evil One? If so, he's seen worse. Oh boy, he's seen worse...

  4. Becky--I don't think we need to compete for the title of the weirdest friend, but since you have known them both way longer than I have . . .