This Saturday, Tina and I decided to make Jack O'Lanterns. The practice of carving Jack O'Lanterns dates back hundreds of years and is based on a colorful Irish tale. In America, we carve Jack O'Lanterns from pumpkins and put them out at Halloween as part of the fun festivities. Jack O'Lanterns can be traditional or complicated. Tina decided to carve a simple but geeky one, while I tried my hand at surface carving with shadings.
The history of the Jack O'Lantern starts at the Irish legend of Stingy Jack who played tricks on and stole from everyone he ever knew including, once, the devil himself. One such story, for there were many different ones, goes that Jack tricked the devil to climb a tree and then surrounded the tree with crosses. The devil, being unable to climb down, struck a deal with Jack. Jack made him promise that he would never enter hell, and the devil agreed. Jack removed the crosses and continued on with his life. When Jack finally died, he was denied entry into heaven because he was too mean to everyone while he was alive. So, down to the gates of hell he was sent, but the devil would not let him enter! Jack didn't know what to do, because he was surrounded by darkness and couldn't find his way around in the land between heaven and hell, so he asked the devil for help. The devil threw him an ember from the fires of hell. Jack took the ember and placed it in a hollowed out turnip and wandered the earth from that time forth carrying his light in a turnip.
Jack O'Lanterns were carved out of gourds, turnips, potatoes and a variety of other vegetables and lit with a candle to keep Stingy Jack (and evil spirits) away from Irish households. When Irish immigrants came to the United States in the 1800's, they brought the practice with them and began using pumpkins because they were bigger and easier to carve.
This was Tina's first time carving a pumpkin, but she wanted to do something fun (not the common scary face) and ended up deciding on this emoticon: :-P
I looked through a bunch of my photos of Yosemite Valley and drew up a plan in Adobe Illustrator to make a relief, light shaded carving of a slightly exaggerated drawing of the valley. Here's a link to a similar view from Inspiration Point off the yosemite.com website (for those who haven't visited this magnificent park).
Here's a closeup of the landscape in the dark:
Details on how the carving was accomplished can be found in this article.
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