When asked recently if I wanted to test a set of Grampa Bardeen's pumpkin carving tools, I declined. Then I read more about the product and was charmed by the quality and the story.
The family of grandpa Paul Bardeen has created a fabulous set of tools modeled after the ones he used to use. Blades and scoops come in various sizes for speedy cutting and finer details. The handles are some sort of very hard plastic, and all saw teeth are treated with Teflon to protect them and make them slide more easily. Every tool in the box is WAY safer than using knives. Which I have done in the past and will never go back.
Included in the carving kit are cutting patterns and poking tools to trace designs onto pumpkins. My favorite part was the newspaper insert with instructions and a family history with photos from the 1940s.
Last night I tried out the tool set. Instead of cutting around the stem of the pumpkin, I followed the suggestion in the instructions to cut a 5-6 inch hole in the bottom of the pumpkin. This way it's easy to set the pumpkin over a light source resting on a flat surface. And the top stays intact and looks nice.
I cut the bottom circle in half so I could push it in and then pull it out. Then the tedious, slimey part: scraping out the guts. The scooping/scraping tool worked great for that, though it does get a little slippery.
Try to refrain from eating the raw innards, though they do look delicious.
I wanted to make a design in which I could try the drilling tools. These come in three sizes and allow you to cut perfectly round holes by twisting the tool. So I sketched a very How About Orange design with retro-looking flowers, and drilled all the holes first. Piece of cake. My favorite part!
(Note— a fine-tip dry erase marker works great for drawing designs directly onto pumpkins, and it wipes off easily.)
After drilling holes, I cut the straight lines and larger shapes with the various saw tools. It works well to move the saws up and down like a sewing needle; they cut easily through the pumpkin rind.
I carved as the sun set, and when I finished, I set the pumpkin over a couple of LED flickering tea lights. Behold the cuteness!
And then I moved the pumpkin to an uneven part of the bench and turned my back for an instant. In that instant, the pumpkin tipped over, rolled off the bench, and smashed on the sidewalk.
I stared in horror, and then started giggling uncontrollably because there's something very satisfying about smashing a pumpkin, even accidentally.
It's okay. I'll make more and recruit the neighbors to help.
If you want to start a carving tradition with your family or friends, get Grampa Bardeen's carving kit here at Amazon. Find more info and carving tips at GrandpaBardeen.com. The set is high quality and will last for years and years, I'm guessing. You could use it all autumn long to make pretty lanterns for your porch steps or decorations for Thanksgiving. Carve simple leaf shapes or abstract designs, and your pumpkins don't have to be just for Halloween.
Update: A request has been made for a photo of the deceased pumpkin. Here it is. May it rest in peace.