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Project

Translucent Pumpkins

Halloween custom calls for a fiercely lit, glowering jack-o'-lantern, but you might also consider the more subtle glow of an elegant monogram, playful spirals, or a whimsical harlequin pattern.

Introduction

By paring away the skin and only part of the flesh rather than carving all the way through, the lantern becomes translucent when lit from within. The harlequin pattern combines both techniques, resulting in a multicolored effect.

Materials

  • Keyhole saw
  • Candle (optional)
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Monogram template (print from a computer)
  • Pen
  • Linoleum cutter
  • Christmas lights
  • Wax paper

Steps

  1. Step 1

    Cut a hole in the pumpkin's base, and hollow the pumpkin out. If you're using a candle, cut a lid out of the top using a keyhole saw; for low-wattage lightbulbs, cutting a hole in the top is optional, but you must also cut a hole in the back of the pumpkin for the cord. Apply petroleum jelly to any exposed flesh to keep it from drying out.

  2. Step 2

    ft045_pumpkin08.jpg

    If you're carving a monogram, find an example of typeface to use and enlarge it on a photocopier to the desired size. Tape the monogram to the pumpkin with masking tape. Using a needle tool or pushpins, poke holes through the monogram and into the pumpkin around the outline of the letters at close intervals. Remove photocopy, and connect the "dots" by pen. Pare the flesh down with a gouge in open spaces and a linoleum cutter in tight spaces, leaving about half the thickness of the translucent flesh intact to allow sufficient light to show through. (You don't need a template to create spirals or a harlequin pattern, spirals can be carved freehand, and the harlequin diamonds can be drawn, prior to carving, using a felt-tipped pen.)

  3. Step 3

    Remove photocopy, and connect the "dots" by pen. Pare the flesh down with a gouge in open spaces and a linoleum cutter in tight spaces, leaving about half the thickness of the translucent flesh intact to allow sufficient light to show through. (You don't need a template to create spirals or a harlequin pattern, spirals can be carved freehand, and the harlequin diamonds can be drawn, prior to carving, using a felt-tipped pen.)

  4. Step 4

    ft016_pumpkin03.jpg

    Wrap Christmas lights around a glass for a radiant light source. To even out the light, affix a piece of wax paper with tacks to the inside of the monogram.

Source
Martha Stewart Living, October 1998

Reviews (1)

  • JaniceDouglas 23 Oct, 2008

    Leave it to Martha to make even a lowly pumpkin elegant! Thanks for the great ideas =)