pumpkin

DIY Constellation Pumpkin

DIY Constellation pumpkin

It’s almost Halloween!

I have to confess, the spooky side of Halloween is not really for us; Harry has long been a-feared of witches, ghosts and all things spooky, and after brief experimentations with ghoulish decor we’ve decided to instead embrace the bits we love; the baking, the trick or treating and the pumpkins. Oh, the pumpkins.  Every year I buy several monster ones and every year I find myself shoulder deep in seeds and pumpkin flesh, scooping out a seemingly unending sea of mush.  Every year I remind myself to remember next time to wear gloves.  Every year my nose starts to itch during the messiest bit.

This year, I made a constellation pumpkin, inspired by the wondrous Martha.  I love the night sky and it seemed somehow fitting to have a pumpkin in our porch that mirrors the stars above… so armed with a drill and a craft knife and a somewhat loose recollection of the major constellations, I began.

I sketched the rough position of the stars with a pencil, googling the different shapes and then  - very quickly – resorted to making up my own to fill up the space.  Press lightly so your hand doesn’t slip into the curves and furrows of the pumpkin, and reassure yourself that everything looks better by candlelight – by definition therefore, your pumpkin will look awesome.  I used a drill to bore through the holes (keep it whirring as you pull it back out, to clear the pumpkin from the hole), and a craft knife to carve out the joining bars, angled at 45 degrees to create a triangular channel and reduce the risk of cutting through the whole pumpkin shell.  I will not lie to you; this takes a little while, as you can intuit from the changing light in my pics below…

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Martha Stewart used a heirloom pumpkin which was already a fetching and atmospheric shade of blue-grey.  My pumpkin was a £2 supermarket pumpkin and hence vibrantly, inorganically orange, so I lightly daubed it with paint to tone it down a little…

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…and here it is!

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I used a string of fairy lights inside the pumpkin, with a few pushed into the actual drilled holes (you can see them burning super-brightly above).  This really looks beautiful and helps to highlight the different constellations as dusk is falling, or if you are keeping the pumpkin indoors in a dimly lit room.  Don’t worry though if that seems either too messy or too fiddly – by the time it is truly dark, the pumpkin will glow all over and all of the stars stand out.  Pour yourself a glass of wine, wrap up warm on the porch, and admire your handiwork…

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p.s. I carved this a few days ago and now appear to have turned the entire kitchen into a fruit fly sanctuary and haven, due to my rather haphazard clearing up of fermented pumpkin innards.  All eradication tips welcome…

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A tonal change of season

Painted tonal pumpkins

Have you ever painted a pumpkin?  Until now I would have put it in the category of ‘life is too short to even contemplate this’, but then I decided that I would give it a go.  As the seasons turn from summer to autumn, it feels a little too early to deck the halls with vibrant orange pumpkins and foliage, so I bought a handful (ok, barrowful) of misshapen pumpkins and gourds and decided to use up some of my many paint tester pots to create a subtle centrepiece instead…

Painted pumpkins and foiliage for fall

I used just two base colours, both sage-green wall paints leftover from painting our kitchen.  I slowly added white to one, and petrol blue (from here!) to another, creating five tonal shades.  Each pumpkin needed a couple of layers, and I did no prep whatsoever.  I am sure there is an art to this, but slapping paint on happily seemed to work just fine.

A fall tableau

I’m thinking about where to arrange them in the house; along the kitchen table, certainly, and perhaps a couple on mantels and at the door.  For now though, they look very lovely just sitting here in the art room…

Painted pumpkins

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tonal spoons

last year’s cityscape pumpkin and

in praise of autumn

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