Jack-o-Lanterns Throughout the Years

The first pumpkins my husband and I carved together when we were dating in 2011.

As we get nearer to October, I begin to contemplate what kind of pumpkin creation I will make. A good jack-o-lantern deserves much thought and precise execution – something that I lack when it comes to pumpkin carving. My husband on the other hand KILLS it at carving up a gourd. I attribute his successful carving and steady hand to the amount of patience he has (I am the most impatient person) along with his creative background (he is musician like myself, and a graphic artist).

This post is a bit of a an homage to all pumpkins past and future! I also hope you will find some inspiration for your jack-o-lantern this year by reading it.

Carving pumpkins has always been something I love about Halloween. I mean, how many other holidays include massive, orange produce that gets to be manipulated into something beautiful by using sharp objects?! That’s right, none other than Halloween.

It’s nostalgic, and I have such great memories of spending time with people I love while also hacking away at a pumpkin. It’s slightly therapeutic at times if you really think about it.

I’m sure many of you know the legends and stories behind why we carve pumpkins at Halloween time. If not, check out this quick read from ThoughtCo. 

Turnips were carved before pumpkins – but I can’t imagine a turnip would be very fun or easy to carve (do turnips even have slimy, squishy, stringy guts to play with?!). It was also said that the jack-o-lantern trend sprouted from the legend of ole Stingy Jack, who is doomed to roam the world between the planes of good and evil, with only an ember inside a hollowed turnip.

We used plain acrylic paint on the pumpkins.

This fun zombie and victim carving was the first pair of pumpkins my now husband (Scott), then boyfriend carved together. I remember back in those days we would do what I liked to call “power dating.” Scott lived about an hour away while he was going to college and so when he’d travel to town on weekends we would cram everything we could into the time we had together while he was available thus resulting in the POWER DATE. This pumpkin activity was on a power dating day because as soon as our monsters were born, we hopped over the Cain’s Ballroom (which is haunted and I will share more about that in a later post…) to boogie the night away in the front row at a Chromeo concert.

It’s always fun to add a little color to fully convey the story and emotions of your pumpkin –  especially to give them a gangrene zombie effect and to properly display the sheer terror of this incident. I think we did a pretty good job on our first couple carving date.

In 2012, our pumpkin carving theme was a whimsical woodland feature showcasing a gnome (I’m a gnome collector!) and a cute mushroom. You can clearly tell who carved the mushroom and who did the gnome because my carving craftsmanship is rushed and looks nothing like a gnome…

My husband’s mushroom looks like it belongs on a neon tapestry in a head shop on the other hand! It’s simply psychedelic.

I was clearly struggling! I was frustrated that my gnome was not looking like a gnome as you can tell by my distraught facial expression. To offset the poor gnome-like quality, I made a red hat out of construction paper to help strangers better identify my gourd as a gnome.

The cotton ball mustache also was used to better identify his “gnomeliness.”

First pumpkin carving as a married couple in 2013!

I like to believe that my pumpkins began to start looking more and more like something as the years have passed. I wonder if there is some sort of psychoanalysis for the way you carve pumpkins? My lines are always frazzled and jagged and Scott’s are smooth and elegant. What does that say about our personalities?!

So in 2013 I attempted to carve an owl which was frightfully upstaged by Scott’s Mario Boo ghost.

As you can tell, I’m still proud of my creation nonetheless. I must always let Scott use the better knives…that must be why my creations are sub-par in comparison.

Seriously though, he truly rocks at pumpkin carving. I always think pumpkin carving will be a quick, fun way to ring in the season and turns into a 2-3 hour ordeal for Scott because he really commits to his work!

But on the other hand, at least I can handle a paint pen! To honor the year of our marriage, I painted a cute pumpkin I kept on the porch all fall in 2013.  I wanted to tell the whole world that I stole my husband’s last name even if it meant declaring it on fall produce!

Sadly, there have been a couple years where we skipped pumpkin carving (or I couldn’t find the photos). In 2014 we closed on our first house on October 28 – days before my favorite day. As we unpacked, I still managed to put out some outdoor decorations for the two trick-or-treaters who showed up. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to carve pumpkins as we unpacked. I’ll never forget how tired we were laying on pillows in the living room drinking pumpkin beer still in disbelief that were officially homeowners.

We quickly picked the tradition back up in 2015. Scott ended up turning his pumpkin into Jack Skeleton and I carved my favorite emoji – poo (or chocolate soft serve, you decide!). This is probably the pumpkin I’m most proud of…

Last year we had a pumpkin carving party with my brother and his fiance! We watched the remake of the Town that Dreaded Sundown and What Lies Beneath while we worked on our masterpieces. I swear my game room smelled like pumpkin guts for a couple nights after that. I think I might be mildly allergic to pumpkin innards as well. As much fun as they are to squish, they make my hands itchy.

Scott and I with our Jack’s in 2017.

Between the four of us, we had quite the display! And as always, without fail, mine is the one that you can’t quite tell what it’s suppose to be (it’s suppose to be a sugar skull by the way). I’ve had that problem with art projects my entire life. My poor parents would accept weird things I made in art class and somehow I’d find it years later jammed in the corner of a lonely, dark cabinet – never displayed in a place of prominence…also because they had no idea what I presented them with. They were great sports about it though!

Well, there you have it! Some ideas and inspiration on how to and not to carve your jack-o-lantern this season.

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