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Pumpkin Carving Tips

Posted on Wednesday, October 31, 2012

As the designer and creator of this year's Statesman pumpkin in the SAGA dining room, "Show Time Joe" Hatfield has been sharing interesting pumpkin carvings with the HWS community for years. Now, just in time for Halloween, he and colleague Ellie Molina shared their tips, techniques and creativity for the Geneva community when they were featured in the Finger Lakes Times. Both Hatfield's Statesman and Molina's alien (also a feature in the dining room) were pictured in the article, which accompanied tips from the experts.

The article notes, "Molina, a diehard Halloween fan, fills her wraparound porch with carved pumpkins every October," and credits her husband with introducing Hatfield to the idea of adding a Dremel tool to his pumpkin carving kit.

In speaking of her alien pumpkin, Molina is quoted, "I wanted to try something different. I had never skinned a pumpkin before. It's time-consuming, but certainly eye-catching."

Among the advice the two offer in the article is, "Before you start carving, bring the pumpkin in from outdoors and let it sit for 12 to 24 hours. Hatfield said that gives the pumpkin a chance ‘to sweat.' A dry pumpkin allows a template to stick better to it and prevents knives from slipping too much, he said."

And, "Just have fun, and use your imagination."

The full article follows.


Finger Lakes Times
MASTER CARVERS: HWS dining hall employees create pumpkin works of art

Susan Clark Porter • October 21, 2012

GENEVA - As a chef in the SAGA dining hall at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Joe "Show Time" Hatfield is comfortable with knives - and he's used that skill to bring a little culinary art to the Colleges' dining room.

At a catering event several years ago, Hatfield was introduced to vegetable and fruit carvings and was so enamored with what he saw that he fetched some books and started "just carving and learning."

Nowadays, he's known to create animals and designs out of radishes, apples, carrots and the like. So, it's no surprise that with every Halloween Hatfield translates his talent to carving a pumpkin for the SAGA dining room.

This year's creation, a Hobart Statesman, took two hours to make.

To start, Hatfield had the Colleges' print shop provide him a logo, then he traced the outline of the picture on the pumpkin and freehanded the interior details as well as he could. When it came time to scraping and carving, he added a Dremel tool to his arsenal of knives, a suggestion from his colleague's husband.

That colleague, Ellie Molina, also has a pumpkin on display in the dining hall: a large carving of an alien that eerily resembles Edvard Munch's painting, "The Scream." Molina, a diehard Halloween fan, fills her wraparound porch with carved pumpkins every October.

Molina found her idea on www.pumpkingutter.com after typing "awesome pumpkin carvings" in an Internet search engine.

"I wanted to try something different," she said. "I had never skinned a pumpkin before. It's time-consuming, but certainly eye-catching."

Hatfield and Molina shared some of their carving tips recently, giving the less talented among us a chance of kicking it up a notch this Halloween.

• Bring the pumpkin inside well in advance.

Before you start carving, bring the pumpkin in from outdoors and let it sit for 12 to 24 hours.

Hatfield said that gives the pumpkin a chance "to sweat." A dry pumpkin allows a template to stick better to it and prevents knives from slipping too much, he said.

• Stay away from vegetable peelers.

When scraping the pumpkin's skin - as both Hatfield and Molina did with their carvings - don't be tempted by vegetable peelers.

Molina used a serrated knife and a small scraper found in a Halloween carving kit. She is a big proponent of those carving tool kits.

"I like the tools," she said. "I know they look kind of cheap, but they work and are good for families."

Molina said the interior scraping tool that gutted the pumpkin also can be used on the exterior surface. She used such a tool to carve away the pumpkin skin a few layers, giving her alien's features more dimension.

• Wait.

Don't carve the pumpkins too early; the week of Halloween is what Molina suggested. Otherwise, they are more prone to sinking in on themselves.

• Try a hole on the bottom.

Instead of the traditional hole on top, Molina cut a hole in the bottom of her pumpkin.

She said it's easier to light a candle inside that way, and she also believes the pumpkin lasts longer and is less susceptible to pesky squirrels. Aesthetically, she didn't want an extra line on the top of her alien's head, either.

• Protect it.

After nine of the pumpkins at her house were vandalized one day, Molina decided the next Halloween she would slather them with Vaseline so whoever tried to pick one up would have second thoughts.

Her trick worked. No more smashings.

Hatfield often will apply a clear coat of shellac to lengthen his pumpkin's life span.

• Parting advice.

"Just have fun, and use your imagination."

 

 

 


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