St0ney wrote:We Really Need to get input, to have this company make an overall pumpkin that works for ALL Carving. And We will get this in 2014 with your input.
Stoney, I know you are very committed to this issue, since you work with the Michaels foam pumpkins a lot. With your experience, you're a good liaison to speak for the pumpkin community.
I think a lot of the issues with this year's Michaels pumpkins are clear. There are common concerns that have come and gone for years. But I think the very hard foam is the biggest new complaint with this year's version, would you agree Stoney?
I'll list my thoughts, complaints, and suggestions... in my personal order of importance.
1. HARDNESS OF FOAM: In regards to the usability of the 2013 artificial pumpkins, this is the greatest concern for me. The foam on these new pumpkins is way too hard. This rigid foam is brittle and way more likely to break during carving. Small details can snap right off. One of the best things about the previous pumpkins was that the foam composition had some "give" to it. Softer foam is key, since the flexibility of the surface is more forgiving, making the process less frustrating for the consumer. Additionally, the dense foam in the 2013 pumpkin doesn't allow for light to glow through, which is a detriment to shaded designs meant to show depth.
2. THICKNESS OF FOAM: A consistent thickness is important. For cut-out carving, we need to know how deep to cut. And that depth should be practical for the tools we use. And for shaded carving, a consistent thickness is even more crucial because we need to have enough depth for varied levels of shading, and be able to trust that we know how deep to go. Some of my favorite foam pumpkins of the past had a thickness of around 1/4 of an inch. In my opinion that is easy to cut through, but thick enough to have some stability.
3. INTERIOR RIDGE LINES: Some foam pumpkins of the past have had a grid of ridges inside like a ribcage. Presumably this is meant to give added structural support. I'm not an engineer, but I don't feel it provides an important purpose. Any strength it adds to the pumpkin surface is far outweighed by the negatives. If lit with a bright enough light to make the pumpkin glow from within, the ridges reveal dark lines which are unattractive and make the pumpkin look unnatural. These ridges also make the thickness inconsistent, so they are harder to cut through.
4. PAINT/COATING QUALITY: In the past we've seen artificial pumpkins with an exterior color coating that either chips/flakes at the cut edges, or peels/tears away in a "rubbery" way. The color should be adhered in a way that stops this from happening. Tests should be done to make sure the paint stays in place along the cut edges, using all the main tools we use - carving saw blades with fine teeth, straight razor blades like X-actos, and rotatory power tools like Dremels with various bits for cutting/sanding.
5. COLOR: I'm not too picky about the particular shade of orange, as long as it seems somewhat realistic (not boring brown or neon orange). There's been variation among the pumpkins I've collected over the years, but that's not too much of a concern for me, as real pumpkins also vary in shade. I also really enjoy the black and white colored pumpkins, which are classy and go with anything. Personally, I'm don't really care for any crazy colors like pink or green (artists and crafters can paint their pumpkins if they need these colors).
5. PUMPKIN SHAPE AND STEM: The size and shape of past artificial pumpkins has been generally good. I appreciate that the large pumpkins are more tall than they are squat - a good ratio for portrait designs. They are also well sized for carving patterns that come on a standard size sheet of paper. Vertical ridges add some realism, but shouldn't be too deep, which makes pattern transferring and carving more difficult. As for stem shape, most in the past have been very stumpy. Longer stems with a slight whimsical curve would be more attractive. I realize having longer stems sticking out could make storage, shipping, and display a little more complicated. But it would be nice to at least have a little more stem for holding on to.