CLOSE
Original image

The Art of the Jack-O-Lantern: More than just a pretty face!

Original image

Streeter Seidell explained the history of the pumpkin made into a Halloween Jack-O-Lantern yesterday in 7 Burning Halloween Questions: Answered! Once it became a tradition, the carving of the pumpkin has evolved into an art form, and in many places, a competition. Everyone knows who the best pumpkin carver in your neighborhood is. Many communities have pumpkin carving contests. And on the internet, all you have to do is post a picture and your jack-o-lantern will be judged and compared to the best in the world. Here are some of them.

3D Jack-O-Lanterns

Ray Villafane is a master of pumpkin carving. This Predator pumpkin shows off his 3D technique. You'll also find intricately-detailed cartoonish faces of all kinds on his site, as well as a tutorial on how to make your own 3D Jack-O-Lantern!

Fantasy Pumpkins

440deathstar.jpg

Noel Dickover carves designs from science fiction and fantasy. One of his more popular designs is the Death Star Jack-O-Lantern, which he carved into a 120 pound pumpkin over a period of nine hours in 2006. Dickover's website Fantasy Pumpkins has a tutorial on carving the Death Star, and patterns you can use for many other icons and characters.

Pumpkin Gutter

440gutter.jpg

Scott Cummins is an artist by trade, but this time of year he turns into the Pumpkin Gutter. See the dozens of Jack-O-Lanterns he's carved over the past dozen years or so in the galleries.

Extreme Pumpkins

440extreme.jpg

Tom Nardone does Extreme Pumpkins, a site that will fire your imagination beyond Jack-O-Lanterns with traditional smiles. There, you'll find flaming pumpkins, drowning pumpkins, puking pumpkins, mooning pumpkins, conjoined twin pumpkins, cannibal pumpkins, radioactive pumpkins, and pumpkins that have been wounded by guns, axes, and other implements of destruction. Extreme Pumpkins has a pumpkin carving contest every year.

The Toothy Look

440pumpkinway.jpg

Nathan Wesling of Pumpkin Way tends to emphasize teeth in his pumpkin carvings. He posts his carved Jack-O-Lanterns for ecards, wallpapers, and screen savers.

World of Warcraft

440warcraft.jpg

Last year, World of Warcraft sponsored a pumpkin carving contest that attracted quite a few wonderful designs. This geeky Jack-O-Lantern by Keeff stood out among the game characters.

Yes We Carve

440scott-gierman.jpg

With a presidential election so soon after Halloween, it was inevitable that Jack-O-Lanterns are used to display the carver's political leanings. This "Barack O'Lantern" by Scott Gierman of Marion, Illinois is one of many featured at Yes We Carve.

Pumpkin Artists for Hire

440masterpiece.jpg

You don't have to be talented, or even experienced, to have an expertly-carved Jack-O-Lantern. Masterpiece Pumpkins is a professional pumpkin carving service to do it for you! They will carve or etch a design onto either a pumpkin or watermelon, including your own portrait if you like, or they can come and give a pumpkin carving demonstration.

Snap-O-Lantern

440snapolantern.jpg

From Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories comes a Jack-O-Lantern wired to snap its teeth open and shut! The Snap-O-Lantern has a hinged jaw controlled by a tiny servo motor. Instructions for making your own are included, plus a video.

Painted Pumpkins

440painted.jpg

If you want to keep your pumpkin intact for cooking, or if you just don't like carving, painting your pumpkin may be the way to go. Tagyerit Presents Painted Pumpkins has a large collection of submitted painted pumpkins from all over. Terri Matschilles painted this pumpkin for her daughter's kindergarten class in Munich.

If you'd like to try some art Jack-O-Lanterns, there are plenty of web resources to help you out. First, some basic carving tips. Here are instructions for adapting a photograph into a pumpkin-carving design. The Pumpkin Wizard offers free carving patterns and a forum for carvers.

Original image
Courtesy Chronicle Books
arrow
Design
Inside This Pop-Up Book Are a Planetarium, a Speaker, a Decoder Ring, and More
Original image
Courtesy Chronicle Books

Designer Kelli Anderson's new book is for more than just reading. This Book Is a Planetarium is really a collection of paper gadgets. With each thick, card stock page you turn, another surprise pops out.

"This book concisely explains—and actively demonstrates with six functional pop-up paper contraptions—the science at play in our everyday world," the book's back cover explains. It turns out, there's a whole lot you can do with a few pieces of paper and a little bit of imagination.

A book is open to reveal a spiralgraph inside.
Courtesy Chronicle Books

There's the eponymous planetarium, a paper dome that you can use with your cell phone's flashlight to project constellations onto the ceiling. There's a conical speaker, which you can use to amplify a smaller music player. There's a spiralgraph you can use to make geometric designs. There's a basic cipher you can use to encode and decode secret messages, and on its reverse side, a calendar. There's a stringed musical instrument you can play on. All are miniature, functional machines that can expand your perceptions of what a simple piece of paper can become.

The cover of This Book Is a Planetarium
Courtesy Chronicle Books
Original image
Noriyuki Saitoh
arrow
Art
Japanese Artist Crafts Intricate Insects Using Bamboo
Original image
Noriyuki Saitoh

Not everyone finds insects beautiful. Some people think of them as scary, disturbing, or downright disgusting. But when Japanese artist Noriyuki Saitoh looks at a discarded cicada shell or a feeding praying mantis, he sees inspiration for his next creation.

Saitoh’s sculptures, spotted over at Colossal, are crafted by hand from bamboo. He uses the natural material to make some incredibly lifelike pieces. In one example, three wasps perch on a piece of honeycomb. In another, two mating dragonflies create a heart shape with their abdomens.

The figures he creates aren’t meant to be exact replicas of real insects. Rather, Saitoh starts his process with a list of dimensions and allows room for creativity when fine-tuning the appearances. The sense of movement and level of detail he puts into each sculpture is what makes them look so convincing.

You can browse the artist’s work on his website or follow him on social media for more stunning samples from his portfolio.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

[h/t Colossal]

All images courtesy of Noriyuki Saitoh.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios