Jeanne Fratello is a writer whose work includes a blog called Jolly Tomato. She’s also a part-time watermelon carver. Her work above (Olaf from the movie, Frozen) took home second place in the “Funniest Carving” category in last year’s carving contest.
I recently chatted with Manhattan Beach, CA blogger-turned-carver about her love of carving and her plans for this year’s contest.
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF. WHEN YOU’RE NOT CARVING WATERMELON, WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO?
I write a blog called Jolly Tomato about fun and nutritious foods for kids and families, so watermelon carving fits right in with that. I also write for two local news and features blogs. When I’m not writing or cooking, I like to swim and hang out at the beach with my family. Also Scrabble — lots of Scrabble.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START CARVING WATERMELON?
When I was little my mom would often carve a watermelon fruit basket for parties, so when I had my own kids I started carving watermelon for their parties, and it kind of took off from there. Basically, now, whenever I have a watermelon, I can’t resist carving it into something. I also like to collect pictures of some of my favorite watermelon carvings on my Pinterest board.
WHAT SORT OF CARVINGS DO YOU LIKE TO CREATE?
I have a great admiration for people who do exquisite, finely crafted flowers or intricate designs, but my watermelon carvings are a little more basic. Usually I try to carve something funny, or easily recognizable, so when people walk in the room, they say, “Hey, Minecraft!” or whatever, and it becomes a conversation piece.
WHAT’S BEEN YOUR MOST MEMORABLE WATERMELON CARVING?
I carve a lot of sharks because we seem to have a lot of pool and beach parties. I can make one pretty quickly, and it’s always a hit. One time I carved a giant shark watermelon and I put it in the refrigerator with the teeth facing outward. I sort of forgot it was in there, and when I opened the refrigerator later that night, I gave myself a scare when I was suddenly face-to-face with this enormous mouth full of teeth!
Last summer I carved an Olaf watermelon from Frozen and my neighbor came over while I was taking pictures of it. She was laughing about what a coincidence it was because she was just about to take her daughter to camp and that week they had a Frozen theme. So I gave her the watermelon to take to camp and it was a big hit. That’s basically the perfect outcome for any watermelon carving.
WHEN IT COMES TO EATING WATERMELON, DO YOU PREFER CHUNKS OR WEDGES?
So funny you should ask. I’m eating watermelon chunks as I sit here! I’d hate to have to choose just one, but I guess I’d say chunks because they’re really easy to eat, one after another.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU AS A CARVER? WHAT WILL YOU BE CARVING THIS YEAR?
I always like to start with popular movies and take a recognizable character from there. This summer I’ll be looking at my kids’ favorite books and games as well. I’m also going to use a few new carving tools that will allow me to add some more delicate details, so I hope my watermelon creations keep getting better and better. I’ll hope to share some with you later this summer!
UP NEXT: How to carve a watermelon panda
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