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Pumpkin Carving and DIY...Disney Style

Posted by on Sep. 28, 2010 at 6:03 PM
  • 3 Replies

Carving Out Halloween Fun!

In the fall 2010 issue of Disney twenty-three, D23's Marina Draskovic caught up with artist and professional pumpkin carver Jennifer Hoppert, who, um, treated us to the fascinating story of exactly how someone becomes one of the chief talents behind the carved pumpkins cherished by guests of Disneyland during Halloween Time.


And if you're apprehensive about putting carving knife to pumpkin, Jennifer says, "Don't be! It's so much fun. Release your inner artist. And the more creative you get, the more fun it is."
As Marina tells it, Jennifer got her start as a commercial artist in New Mexico. After moving to Southern California, she landed a job in the Model Shop at Walt Disney Imagineering where she worked on designs for the parks in Anaheim, Orlando, and Tokyo for several years before becoming a stay-at-home mom. "As any artist will tell you, you can't just stop making art — that's not how it works." Fortunately, she found other ways to express her creativity. "I would go to a party and somebody would ask for a fruit tray, so I would bring 15 different fruits all carved, decorated, and put together," she says with a laugh. "I also found myself doing elaborate pumpkins for my kids at Halloween."

As fate would have it, Jennifer got a call from a former Disney colleague about a job carving pumpkins. Familiar with her handiwork, the friend suggested Jennifer for the gig. It was a match made in heaven, and five years later it's still Jennifer's dream job. "It was so much fun, and we got such a great response from the crowd that it kind of took off," Jennifer says about the first year they set up shop at Big Thunder Ranch, her Halloween Time home away from home. "Every year the pumpkins get more detailed, more creative, and we add more elements — wigs, hats, pipe cleaners, paint, yarn, and buttons. You name it if we can get it to stick on, we use it. It's gone to a level I could have never imagined."

You'll have to read the fall issue to learn more about Jennifer and some of the other pumpkin-carving pals, but we wanted to share for you some of their tips on how you can create your very own professional-looking jack-o'-lantern. And however you choose to carve your pumpkin, we're sure it's going to be boo-tiful! And if you're apprehensive about putting carving knife to pumpkin, Jennifer says, "Don't be! It's so much fun. Release your inner artist. And the more creative you get, the more fun it is."
  • Start by drawing your design on the pumpkin with a water-based marker. Simply erase any mistakes with a damp cloth or sponge.
  • Use a sharp, straight-edged knife to cut the top and any larger areas, an X-Acto knife for details, and try the tip of a potato peeler to make small circles and curves. Please be extra careful with these sharp instruments. If you don't have the proper tools, check out a local arts-and-crafts store. Many now sell kits for pumpkin carving with everything you'll need, including serrated metal saws, which are safer than knives and allow younger children to get in on the action.
  • Always carve away from yourself, and never hold the knife in a stabbing position. Keep a portion of the blade in the pumpkin and, for a smooth finish, use slow, steady strokes as you carve. And remember, kids should carve only under adult supervision!
  • For a better grip, try holding the pumpkin in your lap and use your legs together with your free hand while carving.
  • Consider peeling off the skin to add a new dimension to your design. The flesh of the pumpkin is also much softer and easier to cut through.
  • Think outside the box. Get your inspiration from the shape of the pumpkin. Try turning it on its side and using the stem for a crooked witch's nose. Stack or lay them end-to-end and incorporate the design across all the pumpkins. The possibilities are endless!
  • Don't limit yourself. Try white- or green-colored pumpkins. Use small gourds for the ears and nose. Incorporate paint, stickers, pipe cleaners, cotton balls, or pretty much any other supply you can think of that suits your design.
  • Seal in moisture by coating all cut surfaces with petroleum jelly or vegetable oil. This will help prolong the life of your jack-o'-lantern.
  • Most importantly, have fun! Pumpkin carving is a great way to spend time with your friends or children and to create memories that could last a lifetime.

Here are some ideas and templates from Disney's FamilyFun Magazine

Halloween Pumpkin Carving Template Halloween Pumpkin Carving Template

Mischievous Grin Carving Template  Mischievous Grin Carving Template for Halloween

Pumpkin Carving Template of a Bat Pumpkin Carving Template: Go Batty!

Pumpkin Carving Template: Pumpkin Pirate  Pumpkin Carving Template: Pumpkin Pirate

Pumpkin Carving Template: Super Cute Spider Pumpkin Carving Template: Super Cute Spider

Pumpkin Carving Tiki Template Pumpkin Carving Template: Terror-ific Tiki Template

Scary Cat Pumpkin Carving Template Scary Cat Pumpkin Carving Template

Skeleton Hands Carving Template Skeleton Hands Carving Template for Halloween

I will look for the Disney character templates and post.. but if you have one.. post it please.. Thanks!

by on Sep. 28, 2010 at 6:03 PM
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Replies (1-3):
Dawne98
by Gold Member on Sep. 28, 2010 at 6:47 PM

how cute:) and as always thanks for the info!

CorbinsMomma
by on Sep. 29, 2010 at 8:59 AM

I'm diggin the Jack Skellington one.

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