It was already past my bedtime when I finished, and then I spent the entirety of CSI: SomethingOrOther photographing the pumpkin. And then I sat outside for a while just enjoying it.
I am by no means a super advanced pumpkin carver, but I took some in-progress shots and thought they might be interesting.
I started with this picture:
and simplified it to this design:
It printed nicely on letter-sized paper and it fit on my gigantic pumpkin with very little fuss and folding, so that was easy.
I started out using the hole-poking method of transferring the design, but quickly remembered that in previous years I'd found it easier and more reliable to just go over the lines really hard with a pen, denting the pumpkin skin. So I tried that, and it did not go quite as well as I'd hoped, but it was okay. I ended up tracing over the design with a pen when I removed the pattern (peeling it back bit by bit to make sure the lines underneath were legible).
So I ended up with this:
It was fairly obvious what I needed to peel and what I needed to leave intact, but I scribbled in the bits of the collar that I wanted to peel so I wouldn't get confused there. That ended up not working anyway -- the stripes in the collar were too small to clean out as deeply as I needed to -- so I just freehanded larger stripes. I wish I'd taken a little more care about that, because they ended up too uniform (and the pen marks on the un-peeled parts were too visible in my photos), but it was serviceable.
Then I cleaned out the pumpkin and got started on the peeling. One year I tried to use a dremel tool for that, but I hated it because it chewed up the pumpkin very unevenly (and messily). Ever since, I've used an x-acto knife and a screwdriver, which works pretty well. I got a Pumpkin Masters kit this year because it had some new tools, one of which was supposed to be for peeling, but I used that for about a minute and went right back to the screwdriver.
So here's what I do, and it's really easy, especially for large areas. First, I use the x-acto knife to cut around the edge of whatever area I want to peel (going segment by segment for really big areas). Then I stick the tip of the x-acto knife under the toughest outer layer of rind and flake it off in chunks. There's no need to do this neatly, and cutting around the edge makes it easy to stay within the lines.
Once the outer layer is peeled off, it'll be a horrible lumpy mess underneath. That's fine, because it's really easy to scrape that with a big flathead screwdriver and even it out to whatever depth you want.
I meant to take more pictures, but I was busy.
At this point I tested it with a candle and very little light was coming through, but I decided to just go to this depth throughout the design and then do some more scraping from the back to thin the walls. If you keep deepening with the screwdriver and get carried away and eventually poke right through the pumpkin, it's really disappointing. For the detail work around the letters and in the collar, I used a screwdriver from a mini-screwdriver set. The small size made it a lot harder to get a uniform depth.
If I'd referred back to my design, which I totally forgot to do, I'd have realized that the space inside the "9" was bigger than I'd sketched it (that was a particularly hard place to transfer the pattern because the pumpkin was a little scarred), and it would have been easier to peel than I thought. But things were getting pretty fragile around the dot, and I wasn't sure the lettering was going to work at all. When I tested it to see if the letters were recognizable at all, and they were, I was so happy I never really thought about going back to touch it up. If it hadn't worked, I'd have just peeled the lettering off and had a blank side, but that would have been disappointing. (On the other hand, I also think this design would probably have looked decent as a silhouette, without any of the peeling stuff at all. And it would've taken no time to carve.)
Once I was done with all the peeling, I cut out the cut-out areas, leaving the tail for last. It went really quick after all that fussing with the peeling.
And here's the final result!
I left the tail attached to the edge -- it was very fragile -- and probably should've left the nose just barely attached on the other side. It was a little wobbly when I was doing the last bits of cleanup.
I'm glad the letters are legible, and I'm really happy with the way the neck came out. I had a little saw that was perfectly sized for that.
When we were at the cornfield maze/pumpkin patch a couple of weeks ago, I was brainstorming Doctor Who pumpkin themes and K-9 was the one that grabbed me, but I wasn't at all sure how doable it would be. I went through one false start that was too complicated (I gave up on finishing that pattern when I reached the "argh, what do I do with the head" stage). But in the end, I think it worked out pretty well.