Or: How to carve a swan from a watermelon.
This past winter we read a story called “The Trumpet of the Swan” by E.B.White. I had actually forgotten about it. One day last week as I was working on turning a watermelon into a swan, Landon asked me “Is this Louis?” Whaaaat….? And then I remembered…..
Come with me and meet Louis!
For watermelon carving, choose a watermelon based solely on size and shape. Forget about thumping your head or chest or belly and to match the appropriate sound. Just get the look, seeds are of no consequence. You can always buy a seedless one to make chunks to fill the sculpture. That is what I did anyway.
For this swan, choose an oblong one that is bigger at one end than the other.
Allow to come to room temperature. Not the store temperature either, warm temp, as in no AC on a hot summer day :) This is so the melon does not split ahead of the knife as you are cutting.
Cut a small end off the narrow end of the water melon so it has a flat surface to set on.
Draw on a piece of paper, the look you want, cut it out and tape it to your melon. As you can see here, you want to let a couple of inches of base so the bottom is heavy enough to provide balance so the finished sculpture hangs together and doesn’t fall over. Use a GREEN dry erase pen to draw with.
A. because you can wipe it off if you need to and
B. if you make a mistake and can’t erase it (after it has set for a while), the green lines tend to blend in. If you notice here, I did not follow my paper cut-out exactly because I quickly realized I needed to let some base.
Since I have no picture of the back and I drew it free-hand, I will mention that the back edges of the wings were pretty much a vertical line and were slightly scalloped, and the tail came up to a simple point. To be more realistic, I wish I had tapered the wings to be smaller at the bottom but than overall it would have been more fragile.
Choose a knife. You will probably like two kinds. A sharp, narrow, long-bladed knife and a small paring knife.
Plunge cut all around on the lines you drew. At this point, do not remove the pieces yet as they provide stability as you embellish the wings and tail.
I completely forgot to take a picture of the tail I constructed. All I will say on that is swans are definitely not famous because of their tails. Do a Google search, very non-descript, ordinary tails.
With the paring knife, carve out some lines to simulate wing feathers, Do something better than mine as some people thought it looked like a skeleton (from the back view of the bird) and add some ‘feathers’ on the back of the tail too.
Now, using the long bladed knife again, deeply plunge cut all around and divide the parts to be removed so you can pull them out, letting only the bird in place!
Trim out all the wonderful red watermelon, except for the base so there is some weight down there. Remove the seeds, and cut into bite size chunks to use for filling the bird.
I had a small clear glass bowl that fit inside the swan so that I could mound slightly more fruit inside than if it had not been there.
Refrigerate until ready to fill and decorate.
Fill with an assortment of watermelon, cantaloupe, cherries, blueberries, and apricots
I also had a lemon ‘flower’ with more mint at the base of the tail in back
I added a few mint sprigs for color and liberally sprinkled everything with Swedish Fish – Aqua life theme.
Of course the candy is optional but the kids sure do like it.
And here he is, Louis!
My thanks to this webpage for the idea