#resist #burnitalldown #rebellion #votethemout

handmaid pumpkin finished and lit up

AMBER LOVE 28-OCT-2020 Well, what can I say about the inspiration for this year’s designs? Before I even get into all of it, go listen to my interview on Vodka O’Clock with master carver, Marc Evan.

My first attempt was going to be Emperor Palpatine which I had to abort and detour it into wrinkly scary face jack o’lantern. I wanted Palpatine for a couple reasons:

  1. Because it pissed off so many people that Star Wars made him Rey’s grandpa. I didn’t think it was necessary at all, but since it had never been addressed, there’s not even the argument to be made that it was canon somewhere fifty years ago in a one-shot. I love Rey. I love her whether she’s related to Palpatine or not.
  2. Palpatine’s face has a lot of wrinkles which are great for three-dimensional carving/relief work.
  3. Palpatine’s rise mirrored exactly what the United States has been going through (I assume UK also, but I’m not versed enough to get into their political scope).

I made a video about the making of the Palpatine That Wasn’t Pumpkin. Something was definitely different with that white pumpkin. It was like trying to work in granite with clay sculpting tools instead of dynamite. It was just a clear failure.


Then yesterday happened. The day people all over Twitter said would not happen. They said the US government will never confirm a Supreme Court Justice in the same year as an election. It’s been an argument for a few years actually since Kavanaugh the Groper was appointed and Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s health was failing. That woman held on with every last breath. Despite her flaws, she was the sound of reason on that court and now she’s gone. Her body wasn’t even cold when Trump nominated another grossly unqualified person to the highest court, Amy Coney Barrett.

Barrett is such a bigoted piece of shit that she uses her adoptive black children as props every chance she gets using the “See? I can’t be racist!” line that so many white people spout. I’m white. I can punch sideways about fucking asshole white people. I’ve had more time in a court room than ACB by spending two years in family court. She has never tried a case at this level! She’s been a teacher for 15 years. Kavanaugh is equally unqualified and we all watched that vetting on TV.

I could not bring myself to watch a single fucking second of Barrett’s confirmations. She refused to answer over 100 questions anyway so what’s the point in watching her admit that she doesn’t know the answers?

To top it off, Barrett’s church calls women “handmaids” which they defend to this day as connoting “mentors,” only that’s not how it’s used in their literature. It’s all about women being subservient just like Atwood’s dystopian world! She’s anti-choice and pro-forced birth. She immediately got sworn in a mere week before the 2020 election when Merrick Garland went through 237 days of filibustering until the 2016 election so his nomination was never confirmed. Back then Republicans said it’s unheard of to nominate and confirm a justice in an election year. Sure it is, dickwad.

Here’s a tidbit from MSN (feel free to search and eat through your feelings if you wish to detour from pumpkin carving):

Members of People of Praise are assigned to personal advisers of the same sex—called a “head” for men and “handmaid” for women, until the rise in popularity of Atwood’s novel and the television series based on it forced a change in the latter.

Atwood herself has indicated that the group’s existence motivated her to write The Handmaid’s Tale, set in the fictional Gilead, where women’s bodies are governed and treated as the property of the state under a theocratic regime.

People have been dressing as Atwood’s handmaids for general protests, women’s marches, and repro rights public hearings. I’ve been dressing at a handmaid for my last couple comic cons and appearances (I really need to hem that dress though) because the dress is comfortable and has pockets goddammit.

Thus, this was the first time I’ve ever used a photo of myself as reference for a pumpkin design!

Father Evil and Handmaid Amber


Since this was a real pumpkin, not foam, the steps and tools were slightly different. For this design, no power tools needed so I didn’t bother with safety glasses. It’s an extremely simple design. The making of the pattern took three times as long as the carving.

I found a photo of me in my costume with my head at the angle I wanted (see above with Father Evil) — much like what’s seen in minimalist posters, magnets, and book covers. I have a poster by Angela McKendrick with that style and I love it!

To Make the Pumpkin Pattern:

Similar steps but with a more detailed image were explained in the Gotham Penguin tutorial.

Take the part of a photo you want. Use a lasso tool to select only the section needed (in this case the head). Copy and paste as new image. (I used GIMP)

Use the eraser tool to remove any bits not needed around the subject matter. In this case, I also removed my hand and the lanyard.

2020 Handmaid's Tale Pumpkin Stencil
2020 Handmaid’s Tale Pumpkin Stencil by Amber Love


For this, I went through a number of adjustments in tone and contrast; eventually getting to the point where I could test the posterize tool with three colors. I would undo and smooth out parts as needed, but then kept the posterize off until after the next step.

Change to black and white — color settings, you should find saturation and be able to move the level all the way down.

Adjust contrast again as needed.


It will be close to done, but you’ll find spots that need to be filled in. When it comes to working with a pumpkin stencil, remember that you can’t have any “floating” pieces. All pieces need to connect.

This is where things become more familiar if you’ve ever done Pumpkin Masters stencils.

You attach your stencil to the pumpkin.

Poke holes around all the sections.

Remove the stencil but keep it nearby for reference.

If you haven’t already, gut your pumpkin. Compost the guts and roast the seeds if you like.

Begin working from the center out usually. Since this design was so simplistic, I started with the large cutout of the white hood since that was completely cut through. Then I did the partial flesh bits. The final part was giving an outline of the full-skinned section of the shoulders.

In the pictures here, I used a nightlight bulb with a dimmer on the cord for illuminating it. It’s definitely a much more luminous light than battery candles, but the downside is that it needs to be by an outlet.

If you use this stencil, I’d love to see your work. Tag me on Instagram @amberunmasked or Twitter @elizabethamber.


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