Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pumpkin Mission Accomplished

Inspired by a pumpkin past, I challenged Alex and William to re-visit their face carving stylings, but this time with someone we know and love:

Happy Stimpkin Day!

Here he is, when he is not a pumpkin, but a dedicated and inspiring physics, and history teacher, and most honorable Paradox coach and mentor. That's right: I threw in a Robotics plug!

Team Paradox is full of good people, exceptional teachers and mentors, and I thought for sure I would find a post specifically about some of them, like George S… evidently I made George S. and robotics synonymous, which is appropriate, but he deserves to be singled out. Like I have said before: This man is FIRST. He teaches it, lives it, exudes it, and his students love him for it.

And it is the team's great fortune that there is more than one dedicated and awesome teacher looking out for robotics and the Paradox. Jason B., I have just the picture of you that would make a pumpkin glow!

Making a pumpkin in to a favorite teacher takes planning, daring, humor, and a team effort. Gee, robotics really does prepare us for all of life, you know?

Step One: Find a good pumpkin. Sound, steady, dignified. It should already exude those qualities you plan to accentuate from your subject.

Step Two: Someone has to get in there and clean things out.

In deference to the beret, a signature accessory of Mr. S., I cut the top in a beret-like shape. Trust me, all of this is thoughtfully designed.

Maria, resident Mini-Paradox, was more than happy to help with the scooping.

Now comes the pattern. This picture came from the last all-nighter of the 2009-2010 build season, when the robot had to be finished and crated before 8 am. Mr S. looks to be in good spirits, right? Good spirits is a specialty of 2102 Team Paradox.

Step Three: William played with the original photograph, converting it to black and white, then he used the threshold tool in Photoshop to contrast and highlight Mr. S.'s features.

Step Four: Transferring the image onto the pumpkin.

Someone wished to remain anonymous for as long as possible. Shy. This actually provided some hilarious moments, when we realized how much trouble we could get in if any of our intentions were misinterpreted.

This part is important and time consuming, and also causes hand cramps...

which is why it is so nice to have two or three people working on it.

William did transferring, and I did transferring, and Maria offered to do transferring. Gently poking the tiny holes in the pumpkins skin created an outline so that we could then carve away the lighter sections.

Step Five: Carving away the light sections. This is the part that can cause you to lose hope, give up, surrender, quit. For one thing, we did not have good tools. Again. So, just like when the boys did this three years ago, we were using a variety of inadequate kitchen gadgets, and losing confidence in the outcome.

Step Six: Never give up! Never surrender! Seriously. Working up close with the pumpkin and concentrating on the details in the pumpkin flesh makes it impossible to appreciate the impressionistic effect of this kind of pumpkin carving. So, it pays to be patient, and to see it through to the end.

Because when you turn out the lights, and illuminate the pumpkin from within, then step back...

It works. Somehow, it works, and suddenly you see your teacher glowing back at you, and you can almost hear him asking, "Have you finished your homework?"


warren said...

Holy moley that's great! Could you do any of the work with a dremel tool?

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

The dremel has taken the pumpkin test, and it works for some effects, but not for this. And the pumpkin-dremel mess is scary!! Thanks for the praise. Alex is shy, and he was really nervous about going in to school this morning. His teacher has a great sense of humor, but I think Alex is still anxious about the reaction.

Sarah said...

That looks awesome! I am definitely going to give this a try some year. Time consuming projects can be really fun, and I would love to have a carved pumpkin that amazing to show off! Thanks for posting the step by step. I never would have guessed about the poking-tiny-holes part! :-)

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Try it now! It's hard, but not hard... does that make sense? I guess it's the confidence part that makes it hard, because it really can seem as though it is NOT working, but you gotta hang in there. Sarah, please share your creation with us, and thank you for your sweet comment.

Alison said...

You should absolutely spring for one of those pumpkin-carving kits. They really do make these things a lot easier. Not that we've ever attempted anything quite so artistic, but they sure beat the ol' grapefruit spoon.

Julie said...

That is so impressive! Thanks for telling us how it was done!

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Thank you Julie! Be sure to share with us if you give it a try.

Flartus... I am dropping hints with the Great Pumpkin... they deserve good tools!

Miriam said...

Holy smokes - that's impressive! I'm gobsmacked.

Emily Cole said...

That's really cool - looks great! I bet you could get lino cutting tools to work really well for you - and then you could carve some rubber stamps too!

Anonymous said...

Wow, that's a very good likeness of Mr. S... Such Talent!

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Thank you Miriam... I will be sure Alex and William see all of this encouraging feedback.

Em... have you used those tools? I do think it would help to have some. Thanks for the praise.

Anonymous... we thought it was a playful reflection of a good guy. Hopefully he felt the same way.

Unknown said...

Thank you guys so much.
I really appreciate the pumpkin.
You are the best.

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

And a sigh of relief. We were concerned that our antics were too over the top. I was amused when I posted our pumpkin carving song list on FB, and you were the only person to respond: "Like..." it seemed appropriate, since we were busy carving Your pumpkin.
Thank you George. You are, in many ways, an inspiration, and our family appreciates you very much.

Denise B said...

Natalie, Alex, William & Maria - this is absolutely amazing. Great tribute to a great teacher. You're right - George is the personification of FIRST philosophy. So is your entire family!

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Denise... thank you. It's funny, I only meant to describe making the pumpkin, but then Matt made a plea for a fresh robotics post. I thought: "Yikes! I don't have up to date material." Then I realized that I couldn't post about George without mentioning robotics... so it came together. We do love FIRST, and robotics, but I worry that some think we go too far. It made me so happy to hear that Matt, at least, was ready for more!