Monday, October 28, 2019

Cast Your Vote In The Thirteenth Annual Pumpkin Carving Contest!

If you've followed me long at all, you're probably familiar with the oldest tradition in the Baldwin household: the annual Halloween pumpkin-carving contest. Back when my husband, Mahon, and I were baby-faced college students with fewer worries but more debt, we bonded over a shared spirit of competition when he invited me to his family's yearly pumpkin-carving bash. He boasted that he was sure he could carve a better pumpkin than me, and since we couldn't be content with only our own opinions or even those of the family members there that day, I uploaded the photos to my very-new-back-then blog and let the world be our judge.

Since then, every year we've repeated the tradition—slaving over contest themes, choosing pumpkins with the utmost of care, trying out dozens of different tools (WE HATED THE DREMEL, OKAY?), and always sharing the pictures with the world so that YOU get to decide who, after all, is the best pumpkin carver in the Baldwin household.

This year, as the world celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the moon landing and the U.S. turns its gaze once again into the cosmos, we thought that there could be no better theme for our contest than space itself. The final frontier of pumpkin carving, as it were! If I do say so myself, these are some of the very best pumpkins we've ever produced, which is especially impressive considering that there was a last-minute drama involving lost carving tools and we had to go back to using kitchen knives and x-acto cutters, something I swore we would never do again. But hey, we survived, and these pumpkins are pretty epically space-tacular!

As always, all descriptions are written by me, and all photos are a joint effort between us both. This year Pumpkin A has more photos only because it is 3D enough to need to be seen from several angles to be appreciated; Pumpkin B, which is a more traditionally unilateral carving, shines (pun intended) through with fewer photos.

This years rules, as in previous years, are:

1. Just ONE vote per person... no cheating! If you don't have a Google or OpenID account and so you're voting anonymously, make sure to sign your vote. Unsigned anonymous votes may be deleted. You can also cast a vote on Instagram or Facebook, as long as you keep it to the official pumpkin carving contest thread on those platforms (it gets too hard chasing votes across multiple threads).

2. DO NOT reveal who carved which pumpkin! If you suspect that you may know which pumpkin was carved by whom, DO NOT share that information in the comments. Any comment that tries to spill the carver's identities will be quickly deleted. (Also, we really DON'T recommend attempting to guess whose pumpkin is whose. In the past, guessers have tried to swing the vote for one person or another, and guessed wrong, with disastrous [but hilarious] results. So really, just vote for which pumpkin you actually like better and leave it at that, okay???)

3. Get all your friends and family to cast their votes too! Share on social media! Bug your co-workers!

First up! Pumpkin A:

This year's carver of Pumpkin A has truly gone above and beyond to present a mind-bendingly original piece of gourdian art. Not only have they used three distinct pumpkins to create the planet Saturn, its rings floating free around it—they've even gone so far as to meticulously paint their creation with UV paint, lending it a fancifully eerie glow. Perched atop the planet are an intrepid astronaut explorer and their newfound companion, a friendly Saturnian. In a moment where NASA prepares to launch itself into future missions to far-flung planets, this still-life of the first interaction between a human and an extraterrestrial seems especially appropos.

You'll notice the wealth of incredible details with this pumpkin, including the fact that the Saturnian glows in the dark but the astronaut doesn't, indicating that the magical phosphorescence of the planet lends itself to fauna as well as flora. In the second picture, you can also see that the rings are actually suspended around the planet, not resting on the ground—a true feat of engineering!

Next we have Pumpkin B:

Just a week and a half ago, NASA conducted its first all-female space walk, as Christina Koch and Jessica Meir stepped outside the International Space Station together in a groundbreaking act of space-age feminism. This historic moment seems to be very much on the mind of the young girl featured in Pumpkin B, as she stands against a star-dappled sky, wistfully gazing up at the full moon. Perhaps she, like Koch and Meir once did, dreams of someday swimming among the stars—or even stepping foot on the moon itself, taking something more than just a small step for womankind. 

Notice the detail and lyricism present in Pumpkin B: the careful carving of the figure of the girl with her uplifted hand; the faint light of the Earth where she stands; and the crater-pocked surface of the moon, majestic and proud, in the sky above her.

We're trying something new this year! This year, I'm going to try to use polls to manage some of our voting. If the polls don't work for you, or if you're entering votes for multiple people, you can of course still cast votes in the comments just like normal. You can vote in the poll below, in the comment section, in the comments on Facebook or Instagram, or on my Twitter poll (@beingCindy). But please, only vote once!

Voting will close around 9pm Pacific Time on Saturday, November 2nd

Postscript: This is actually the first year that Kate has expressed a wish to be in the contest. Alas, you can't actually vote for this pumpkin (I told her she has to get to the point where her pumpkin could pass for one of ours so she doesn't get votes purely by default!), but we wanted to share it anyway. The design is a witch riding a broom with her trusty feline friend in front of her, their flight path directly toward a crescent moon. Design by Kate, carving by Mahon under Kate's instruction.


  1. I unexpectedly had a rush of emotion when I saw lit pumpkin B. The feeling encompasses so much that I can't even start to unpack it!

  2. I thought pumpkin A was so cool that I was definitely going to vote for it, but then I saw pumpkin B and literally gasped. I was filled with such a sense of awe and wonder--there's just so much emotion packed into that one! Pumpkin B gets my vote.

  3. Pumpkin B - because of it's beauty.

  4. Better watch out when Kate's old enough to compete -- hers is awesome!! ��

  5. Pumpkin A! It's so creative and really thinks outside the box.
    I look forward to watching Kate's pumpkins evolve. Rachael.

  6. As stunning and detailed as pumpkin A vote goes to pumpkin B because of the emotion attached. It is simple, beautiful and endearing.