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Creative carvers cross into pumpkin zone

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Catherine W. Idzerda
October 27, 2007
— Ladies and gentlemen, we present a tale of two women:

One, a respectable retired lady; the second a working woman with two grown children.


They have nothing in common, but their paths intersect in this story … welcome to the Twilight Zone.


OK, maybe that’s a little too dramatic—but Wednesday is Halloween, and we wanted to get into the spirit.


Sherry Kuelz, our working woman, already is in the spirit of things. But then again, she’s always into the spirit.


“I put up so many decorations I blow fuses,” Kuelz admitted freely.


However, Halloween is her specialty.


Over the years, this crafty mom has carved Simpsons characters, headless horsemen, graveyards, cats on fences, Draculas and wolves—all on pumpkins.


She started carving after her kids were born. She’d carve one for each of her two children, Brande and Scott, one for her husband, Rick; and one for her father- and mother-in-law who lived across the road.


And here’s the really unfortunate thing: Because the family lives so far out in the country, they hardly ever got trick-or-treaters.


One of her favorite designs—she makes her own patterns—was the headless horseman.


The horseman was the centerpiece, and the trees went all the way around the sides.


She also likes carving a design into the back of the pumpkin.


The light from the candle causes the carving to be reflected onto whatever surface is behind it, such as the side of the house.


Move the pumpkin away from the house, and the reflected image gets bigger.


Now we come to our other pumpkin carver, that respectable retired lady.


Helen Cochand is not much of a pumpkin carver—she is not carving one this year.


Yet last year she had a moment of inspiration and created a barfing pumpkin.


“There wasn’t much carving involved,” Cochand admitted.


Her chef-d’oeuvre—that’s French for “darn fine art work”—included slashes for eyes, a classic triangle nose and a chunk cut off the back side the pumpkin for a tongue.


And it’s hurling, just like a frat boy on a three-day beer bender.


Why is her pumpkin throwing up? Stomach flu? E. Coli? Bad potato salad? Long Island ice tea?


“I have no idea,” Cochand said.


PUMPKIN TIPS


Here are some pumpkin tips from Sherry Kuelz.


- Rub petroleum jelly or vegetable oil inside and around the carved sections of the pumpkin. This will help seal in the moisture. When the pumpkin dries out, it starts to wither. WD-40 works, too, but don’t use near an open flame.


- Wipe out the inside of the pumpkin with a bleach-water mixture. This will keep the mold from growing. Wipe down the outside, too. This will kill the bacteria and mold that causes rotting.


- Try to keep the pumpkin out of the sunlight.


- If your pumpkin starts to shrivel, submerge in water for several hours, and then dry the inside with a towel. Don’t do this if the pumpkin is already rotting.


- Patting a carving pattern with a lightly dampened sponge will help it lie flat.


- Instead of cutting a hole at the top of pumpkin, consider cutting a hold in the back. Run a piece of florist’s wire through the piece of pumpkin so you can remove it easily when you want to light the candle. Another option is to cut a hole in the bottom and put the candle in that way. If you use either of these methods, be sure to put holes in the top to let the heat escape.


- If you cut out the wrong piece, don’t panic. A toothpick will hold it in place.


- If you have your pumpkin inside and want to scent it, put pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon together and sprinkle it on the bottom.



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