Hallowe’en Pumpkins: Top Ten Tuesday

Posted October 29, 2019 by Maire in Hobbies, Uncategorized, Whimsy / 15 Comments

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is a Hallowe’en Freebie! I invite you to take a look at my photos of Hallowe’en Pumpkins past. I haven’t always had the best camera, so this could be a bit of an adventure.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly book blogging prompt hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Gal. Last week we changed a few book titles, if you care to give the post a gander.

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Carved pumpkins on a front porch, 2014
3 carved pumpkins on our front porch, 2014

It’s no secret that Hallowe’en is my favourite holiday. Honestly, because I identify as pagan, I usually call it Samhain (pronounced Sow-wen). Every year I carve pumpkins for our front porch. I took a look through my photo collection and pulled some of my favourites. I have enough to divide into 10 sections. This was a little more challenging than I’d thought – there were a few years where I apparently didn’t take any photos. Whoops!

I’m going to try and relate my pumpkins to literature where I can. This is a book blogging meme, after all!

I promised you more pumpkins!!

1994: Early Jack O’Lanterns

These are the oldest pictures of Hallowe’en pumpkins I could find. Mine is on the left, I think. The date on the back of the photo claims it was taken in 1994. I was living in a duplex row house in downtown Toronto, attending the art college. The pumpkins were carved using the traditional knives and spoons.

At the time, I was reading a lot of what I’ll call “accessible horror”. Stephen King’s early books, Anne Rice, and bunch of books by an author known as LJ Smith. This was around 1994, so the term ‘YA’ hadn’t been coined yet. Smith was writing sets of paranormal teen romances around the same word count as your standard Sweet Valley High. Today’s teens will recognize her books as the basis of the popular Vampire Diaries and somewhat less successful Secret Circle TV series. I enjoyed the Secret Circle books, honestly. I tried to watch the TV show and….nope. Not for me.

Apparently the Secret Circle books have been reissued with expanded novels tacked onto the end. I’m not certain LJ Smith is the actual author of these later efforts as I heard somewhere that she isn’t the rights holder. I wish her well and hope she’s still getting lots and lots of royalties.

1997 – 2000: Finer details

You really don’t appreciate how much technology has improved photography until you’re scanning old photos and trying to colour-correct for all sorts of film or printing errors. Same goes with pumpkin carving technology. Pumpkin masters put out their first set of miniature carving saws and scoops. Awesome!

This pumpkin was one of my first forays into using the new tools. Unfortunately, there were a lot of processing and lighting issues so the other two jack o’lanterns didn’t scan very well.

I had moved out west to Calgary by this time, and living in my parents’ home. I read a lot of romance, as that’s what was around the house. Nora Roberts had become a staple, and her In Death books as JD Robb were really taking off. I enjoyed the heck out of the Greg Bear Darwin Duology, and I have a soft spot for true crime.

2000ish – Hella large pumpkin

My friend Zwee donated the really large pumpkin. She actually rubbed her hands in glee as she handed it off. It was huge enough to warrant two carvings on the front surface: Vincent Price and The Raven. Suitable for any fan of the poem by Edgar Allen Poe.

At the time, I was really getting into The Sandman comics. I’d actually always been interested in them, but tracking them down was a bother. Thankfully, they appeared in Graphic Novel format!

2011 – Hallowe’en pumpkins with attitude

There’s a large gap in the pumpkin record due to my lack of forethought and a laptop that died, taking all its photographs with it. This was in the days before cloud backups, more’s the pity.

By 2011, The Husbeast and I had bought our own home and begun stuffing it with books, video games, and fibre in various stages of Becoming Yarn. This was probably around the height of the knitting renaissance. Socks in particular.

I beta-knit a couple of socks for the Socktopus book. They fit quite well, but I think the yarn was better suited for mittens than socks. Wore through fairly quick. Little Red in the City was Ysolda Teague’s first major release, and I looked forward to the expanded sweater sizes. It’s also the year Ready Player One was published. Let’s not mention that I read it a couple of years later…

2012: Samhain Instagrammed

I started putting my pumpkins on Instagram around 2012. Nothing particularly fancy, just showing what was done. That’s how we wound up with a cool border around a fairly wicked looking Jack and his funky tomcat buddy.

It was also the year Redshirts by John Scalzi came out. I’m pretty sure we picked it up a bit later, when The Husbeast was recovering from a cold or flu. As always, a book by JD Robb.

Physical books start getting a little thinner on the ground from here on out. Yes, our home library is stuffed to the gills and we always love getting more, but we started picking up ebooks on sale. So a lot of our reading is done on our Kobos.

2013: Things are getting Grim.

This year was the year of the reapers. I re-used the pattern for the comical skeleton from 2011, and added his scary buddy. This guy reminds me of the third ghost in Bill Murray’s Scrooged for some reason…

Darker themed books this year. I received two copies of Doctor Sleep for Yule. Probably because I complained bitterly at the price tag. One of the things that Canadians will grudgingly admit is that they hate having to pay more for books. Often, the price is inflated past the actual exchange rate. It can be maddening, particularly when you’re a member of a generation that recalls buying new books for less than $20.

As a sidebar, yes, I know that publishing sets the amounts and I probably shouldn’t complain if I want to become a writer. The issue is that the division of cash often isn’t balanced in favour of the author, and publishing companies rarely like to take risks. So…the books you actually do want to read cost more. And it sucks. I don’t have to like it, but there it is. I’m of the opinion that a lower price tag would probably get folks to buy more, but what do I know?

2014 – Hello SF and the Nightmare Before Xmas

Three pumpkins: Jack’s pumpkin head, Jack and Sally of The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Slimer from Ghostbusters. I picked up a Dremel pumpkin carver, and experimented with different depths to get shading.

William Gibson returned to SF with The Peripheral, Cixin Liu’s Three Body Problem was released in English, translated by Ken Liu, and Andy Weir’s The Martian made waves. I read Peripheral for the Aurora Awards in 2015. Awesome book once you get past the slang. The Martian went on to become a hit movie. Three Body Problem? Won the Hugo Award for Best Novel. Good stuff all around!

2015: Folklore!

I had to go searching for this pumpkin picture. It was hiding on Instagram. Unfortunately, the camera in my old Nexus camera didn’t capture the Count very well.

As for books, despite Jim Butcher‘s effort, the year was good for works by women. I purchased Uprooted by Naomi Novik on Kobo, and read Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia for the Auroras. Elizabeth Bear released Karen Memory, and I discovered Gemma Files’s Experimental Film. Yay!

2017: Pop Culture and eBooks

A sugar skull and baby Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy make up this year’s pumpkins. The sugar skull was really involved! All those fine swoops and dots really take some effort.

You might notice 2016 is missing. I have no idea what happened there.

It’s at this point we really start to see our physical books dwindle off. As it was, I had a hard time finding anything to represent the year. It doesn’t help that we often don’t buy books as soon as they come out. We’ll often pick up used books or wait until the paperback comes out. Stephen King’s It made a comeback due to the first half of the updated It movies. Nora Roberts continues her bestseller list coup with Echoes In Death.

2018: Hallowe’en Pumpkins with New Technology

You know those hollow foam pumpkins from Michaels that get progressively less expensive the closer you get to Hallowe’en? They’re a lot easier to carve if you get a foam cutting tool. Vincent and Edgar were immortalized in foam, and the Cheshire Cat came to life on an organic pumpkin.

Most of the books I picked up this year were on digital. Yes, that’s an ARC of Witchmark. I also purchased the paperback separately, and spent an Audible token on it. I am heavily biased as regards Witchmark, because I am friends of the author, so fair warning. Consider my remarks on it the equivalent of The Critic’s Standie. Listen to all the other sources who say it’s worthy of award nominations (because there are a lot).

I also picked up Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Calculating Stars, as well as the usual JD Robb books. Honestly, the past two years have been such a whirl that reviewing is becoming a great way to remind myself of the books I’ve read! I have a bunch of outstanding eBooks that I picked up on sale and just haven’t had the time to chew through.

I’ve also read a lot of non-fiction, mostly to do with writing craft. So…that eats up my time as well. Thankfully, my TBR pile is becoming a lot more streamlined!

I’m still in the process of choosing this year’s pumpkins. I have two nice-sized pumpkins from the Safeway sitting in our garage, waiting for the festivities to begin. Happy Hallowe’en!


15 responses to “Hallowe’en Pumpkins: Top Ten Tuesday

  1. Thank you! Pumpkin carving is mostly all practice using the tools. I’ve also got an edge, as I’m a 3rd generation artist 😉
    I’ll be certain to check out your post asap 😀

    • Thank you very much!

      Not carving pumpkins isn’t a failure. Sometimes you just don’t have the time, space, inclination, or environment for them. I’ve been trying to figure out why there were years without pictures of pumpkins. Yes, we had a hard drive failure that zapped a bunch of pictures, but we also lived in an apartment building for a while. People in apartments don’t always carve pumpkins. For starters, they’re not as easy to haul in from the garage. Also, there often aren’t any trick-or-treaters to appreciate them.

      So take a pass this year and come back harder next time 😉

    • Thank you!
      I have no doubt you and your niece will have fun together. I like to have something for the trick-or-treaters to see when they come around. 😀

  2. Oh wow! You’re so talented! My kids carved a pretty awesome Stranger Things pumpkin this year, but unfortunately it didn’t last very long. Do you have any tricks to make them last? We did soak it in bleach water, which perked it up for a few days, but I think we waited too long to do it. Great post!

    My TTT

    • Thanks!
      I usually take time off around Hallowe’en so I don’t have to worry too much about time management. I buy the pumpkins about a week or two before the event and store them in the garage, where they’ll be nice and cool.
      I generally carve my pumpkins on the 31st, so they’re looking their best when the kids come by. The earliest I’ll carve is the day before. My hands are also getting more arthritic as I get older, so the designs are getting simpler, and anything I can do to make the process less painful is a plus.

      I hear that you can do a couple of things to keep them fresher for longer:
      – Make the hole for scooping the guts at the back, not at the top or bottom. Apparently the pumpkin still gets some sort of minerals from the stem, and cutting a hole at the top cuts off that supply. It also looks nicer!
      – spray down the pumpkin with water, then wrap in plastic wrap. Store in fridge or other cool place (like garage) overnight.
      – Store carved pumpkin in a bucket of cool water.
      – coat carved edges with Vaseline or other petroleum-based gel.

      I haven’t had to try those last 3 methods myself, but I would think that having a clean bucket of water on hand might be a good option. Keep the gourd moisturized & bring down the amount of bacterial growth that causes decomposition 🙂

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