With Halloween closing in, it's time to unveil our Halloween Horse pumpkin for 2019. This has become a tradition at Triple Mountain, and we enjoy showing you how we made it so that you can make your very own!
We love that Breyer honored the roots of Halloween this year with Halloween Horse Samhain. They were also true to the meaning of that holiday (which falls on October 31st and is considered the middle of autumn) as the Second Harvest Festival, when people took time to celebrate bringing in the year's final harvests and beginning to prepare for winter. It was also considered the time when spirits of the dead might visit the living and communication between the worlds of living and dead was easiest. All of these things are captured in a non-scary way in Samhain's design, from the corn and pumpkin harvest to the ghosts flying overhead. (Thanks, Breyer! She's awesome!) We carried that theme on into the carved pumpkin with a shock of cornstalks to her left, a cartful of pumpkins to her right and a red barn with one door open in the background.
Here's a quick step-by-step story of the pumpkin in progress. I'm not claiming this is the best way to create a carving (or the easiest or safest!) but this is my method.
I began by searching the web for images to incorporate into the design. I printed them, checked their sizes, reprinted them to be in the correct sizes to work in the picture, then cut them out. I always leave about an inch around the outside of each picture, and then I make cuts in from each edge. These allow the image to be molded around the rounded pumpkin.
[Above: Cuts around the edge of the Samhain model image. Below: Images laid out to decide on placement and check size.]
Once I'm happy with the layout on my desk, I tape the images onto the pumpkin, keeping each image tight by using the outside cuts. I trim away any areas where the images overlap.
Then it's pumpkin carvin' time!
I trace the outline of the horse first, since she's in the foreground and nothing is in front of her. I use a curved paring knife that makes it easy to follow the horse's curves. A curved-blade X-Acto knife is also a great choice. Both create thin outlines and can be used to make tiny dots anywhere you don't want a solid line... For example, on the thin spokes of the wagon wheels. I planned to paint them rather than trying to carve the thin spokes, so I just poked tiny dots to guide my paintbrush later.
The horse outline is finished and image removed. (I keep the image for reference of how to paint her design.) Then I work my way through the images, doing whichever one is closest to the foreground each time so that they show up in front of background images.
I almost forgot one very important part of the Halloween Horse carving ritual! Always put on a Halloween movie to listen to while carving... Nothing scary, since you're working with sharp objects and don't want to lose a finger if startled... I chose the classic "Hocus Pocus" this year.
With the outlines all complete, I use a set of carving knives to remove the background, retracing the outlines more deeply as I go so there are no "whoopsies."
I often try to add some depth to the carving, and this was a perfect pumpkin for it, but I was short on time, so I left it a fairly flat carving this year, relying on the layering of images to provide the illusion of depth. I did carve Samhain's glow in the dark areas deeply to add a bit of shape and movement.
Then for a final step, I paint the image and apply a thin coat of matte spray varnish to keep it looking fresh longer. This helps prevent rot and shrinking.
For the next week or so, our Happy Samhain pumpkin will be on display at our store, alongside a new addition:
After the season, the pumpkin will be chopped up and placed in the woods where the wild creatures can enjoy the harvest, too. We've saved the seeds for next year's pumpkin patch.
I hope this inspires you to try your own carving! Happy Samhain and Happy Halloween to you all!