Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Halloween Food Sculptures

Every year for Halloween I carve at least one, and sometimes several, melon brains for various events.  You can find lots of examples of melon brains online, but I didn't ever see much in the way of a full tutorial.  Besides, most of the brains that I saw only kin of sort of looked like a brain. I have gotten pretty good at the process in the last few years, so here is all that I know about carving a watermelon into an accurate representation of a human brain.  This year, PJ also got into the Halloween melon carving spirit, so I will also share his finished Watermelon witch creation. Sorry, he made it so quickly I didn't see his step by step process... Maybe next year! (UPDATE: I have now made a video tutorial of the watermelon witch.  To see the video click here)
As I tell my art students, to recreate something you really need to have the actual image in front of you.  Do not work from your memory of what an object looks like!  So the first step in my melon brain is to look at a real brain the entire time I am carving.  Here is a real brain: Enjoy!
Also, something that I discuss with my art students.... your brain has 2 halves (and one is better at art!) So the next step, after using a potato peeler to take off all the green skin and a lot of the white rind, is to cut a V shaped groove separating the brain into two halves. Cut down until you get into the red pulp.
 Next you need to refine your separation to look like the two lobes of the brain. Again, an image would be helpful, so here is another real brain!
And here is my melon brain in process.  I usually cut out a triangle shape at the bottom of the melon to add to the brain shape.  I also usually flatten the bottom at this point.
 Next, I start cutting in the twisting shapes of the brain matter.  I cut deep enough to see the red of the pulp.  I also cut out the small triangles of negative (empty) space in between the brain matter twists.  I am constantly looking at the brain picture at this point to get pretty accurate with where and how my brain twists and I think this makes a LOT of difference in the final look of the brain.
 OK, that looks pretty good and that is about where most melon brains stop.  I go one step further for added realism.  The brain matter is ROUND, my cuts so far are FLAT.  If you spend this long carving a brain (I can do it in an hour or two.. and I went to college for this, so yours may take longer) spend the additional time making it look round!
 The first step in going from flat to round is to make a V shaped cut where you currently just have a single straight cut, not a big deal.  After that, try to use the knife to trim off the edge of your cuts.  Either way, you will expose more of the red pulp and that will add a LOT to the over all effect.
 I usually slam a big knife into the brain to make it even more gruesome.... and to aid in serving the melon!
This year PJ added his watermelon expertise to the party as well.  PJ has carved a watermelon Mad Hatter Hat, and a watermelon shark for Lydia's birthday parties.  He carved a watermelon pirate ship for our wedding.  This time, I requested a witch. I thought the green melon turned vertically would be perfect with a witch hat on top.  I also requested a large round mouth, so PJ pulled out the power tools with the big circle cutter.
My idea wasn't just a melon witch, but a fruit salad vomiting melon witch! 
 Doesn't she go perfectly with the veggie dip vomiting pumpkin and with the sour cream and salsa spewing peppers?
Happy Halloween!


Cheryl Burchett said...
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Cheryl Burchett said...

Oops that should be Oct 23, 2012!