This year, try an upgrade on the usual toothy jack-oâ€™-lantern and carve something that looks like art. The clip-art designs here, created by crafts editor Marcie McGoldrick and professional carver Marc Evan, show how the same things that attract you to textiles and prints -- strong images, repeating graphics -- make for a beautiful pumpkin. The results are so sophisticated and eye-catching, sometimes they donâ€™t even need the help of a candle to shine.
The stacked display features a repeating pattern: The design is carved a few times around the lower pumpkin and aligns with a continuation -- plus an owl -- on the smaller â€˜Blue Moonâ€™ pumpkin on top.
If Louis Comfort Tiffany ever carved a pumpkin, it may have looked like this one from illustrator Marc Evan, cofounder of Maniac Pumpkin Carvers, in Brooklyn. These Art Nouveauâ€“inspired flowers and leaves drape from the top, just as in the stained-glass lampshades.
Find art in juxtaposition: not only by placing a five-pound little guy next to a 90-pound prizewinner, but also by re-creating the look of rich Fortuny fabric ... in the humble flesh of a pumpkin. (To prolong the pumpkinâ€™s life, donâ€™t gut it: The design is so strong, it doesnâ€™t need the added contrast of backlighting.)
You need little more than a drill (and three bits) to create this doily effect. The intricate and lacy look is achieved by repeating a wedge pattern. Given how small some of these holes are, the design allows for errors. (This one has mistakes -- but can you even tell?)
Daisies have an uncomplicated beauty that lends well to graphic design (look no further than Marimekkoâ€™s archive). On these, the pattern is positioned both vertically and horizontally, so the stems snake either around or over the pumpkins. The flowersâ€™ bright centers are pierced with a drill.
Design dictates shape: If you know what design you want to make, pick a pumpkin accordingly. Tall, oblong ones will work best for vertical designs, whereas short, squat ones are better for horizontals.
Flat can be fine: Some pumpkins have a flatter side (where they rested against the ground as they grew). Work it to your advantage, since carving on a flat surface is easier than carving on a rounded one.
Give it a spin: If you plan to group pumpkins, rotate them to see how your design will continue from one to the next. Also try rotating if youâ€™re stacking pumpkins: Some nest better at certain angles. (Leave the bottom pumpkinâ€™s stem intact, or just trim it -- cutting it off can invite premature rotting.)
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