My grandfather was a woodworker. He would carve these beautiful ducks and birds out of wood, sand them by hand until they were perfectly smooth, and paint on every single feather. He always had sandpaper or a knife in one hand and a block of wood in the other. He taught every kid in our family how to drive, and he would bring along his latest project and sand away in the passenger seat while whoever was learning drove him around. Birds were probably the most common subject matter for his carvings, and Thanksgiving turkeys were no exception.
One year he cut out turkey heads and feather sets so that every Thanksgiving, we could make turkey pumpkins. They all had dowels sharpened on the ends so you could stick them in the pumpkin easily. My mom painted the feathers and turkey faces with him, but you can definitely tell which expressions were Grandpop's doing because they were a little goofier than the rest. Every year after Halloween, it would be time to break out the turkey feathers, pick out the fattest pumpkin we could find, and create a centerpiece for the table or a piece of décor for outside.
When John and I bought our house, my mom sent us our own set of turkey feathers so we could continue the tradition. Last year, my feathers had finally had enough wear and tear after a decade (or two) of use and one of them snapped in half when we were trying to put it in the pumpkin. It was a sad day for turkey pumpkins everywhere, but it sparked an idea. I decided I wanted to create my own updated version of the pumpkin turkey with the Glowforge so the tradition could live on. I didn't get around to it last year, but figured there's no better time than the present. After all, we just had a baby nephew come into this world, and he needs to get to experience the fun of making pumpkin turkeys too.
I drew a bunch of different turkey faces, eyes, beaks, wattles, and different style feathers using the Illustrator app for iPad. I saved them as SVG files and sent them to the laser where I cut them out on 1/4 inch maple for the head & feathers and 1/8" maple for the details. I even got a little fancy and cut the wattles out of red glitter acrylic for some extra pizzazz.
Since Mom was a part of the painting the first time around, we decided to have a paint party to continue that tradition as well. Josh and I went over on Halloween and painted turkey feathers until our hearts were content.
I bought little squares of fall fabric on Amazon to make their bandanas, picked out some pumpkins, and we got to assembling.
Here's a look at our process and the finished turkeys.
Grandpop didn't really say much, but when we did something that made him proud, he would always say "good show." I'd like to think that with this project I'd get to hear those words.
I've listed the SVG file for these turkey parts (and I'm offering a limited number of pre-painted kits) if you and your family want to start your own turkey pumpkin tradition this year.
Here's the link for the file: https://samanthasdoodles.com/products/svg-file-pumpkin-turkey-centerpiece-set?_pos=2&_psq=tur&_ss=e&_v=1.0
You can also message me for the kits themselves!
Enjoy! I hope you and your family have a happy Thanksgiving.