Pumpkin Carving

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We have all taken a knife from a drawer and carved a pumpkin when we were growing up. A few triangles for eyes, some jagged cuts for teeth in the mouth, another triangle for the nose, drop in a candle, and it’s done. The artist Ray Villafane, and his crew have been doing something a tad above that basic style of carving. He was born in New York and graduated from the School of Visual Arts in New York City in 1991. He was an Art teacher from 1993 – 2006 in Michigan for children ranging from kindergarten up to seniors in high school. When fall would come around, he would try carving pumpkins, and a few students liked what he was able to make so they would bring in pumpkins for him to carve. The students and their parents liked his carvings so much, that he started getting a lot of requests. As he got better and better, he realized he was onto something. He started sculpting in 2004 and became so successful at it, that he was able to retire from teaching in 2006 to pursue a full-time career as a sculptor. He is a professional sculptor for a company that makes collectible toys like super heroes. I remember when I first saw him on the Food Network, on a show named Halloween Wars. I was absolutely astounded that he could visually see a pumpkin, and mentally have an idea to turn it into something so lifelike. Instead of carving out holes into the pumpkin, he shaves off layers to add depth and make his carving appear to be fight its way out of the pumpkin. The amount of small details he can put into something organic like a pumpkin is just incredible. One of the things I really like about his work is he tries to use the entire pumpkin, the outer skin, the seeds, the “guts”, and even the top. He creates a 3 dimensional in the round carving that is intended to be viewed from many different angles.

Just in case you think this is scary, he’s a fun YouTube video about his process and how he goes about it.

Do you like this style of sculpting and art work?

Is this something you would try?

Would this be as impressive if it were done from clay, instead of from pumpkins?

Ryan McDade








15 thoughts on “Pumpkin Carving

  1. I’ve never seen anything like this. This is incredibly fascinating. It’s cool how his ideas come to him as he is carving the pumpkin. The Predator carving is just plain awesome. He should send a picture of it to Arnold Schwarzenegger. But the scary Halloween theme of zombies is really cool. Zombies tearing their way out of pumpkins is a really cool idea. I’m not sure I would do this because I don’t really like the smell of cut open pumpkins. When I first see the zombies, I feel like I’m supposed to be scared but when I take a closer look, fascination takes over and I’m mesmerized by how awesome the sculptures are.

  2. This is impressive. They way he turns the pumpkins into human like forms is amazing. I like all the detail he puts into his sculpting to make it look very real. I like the one where he uses multiple pumpkins and the zombie appears to be coming at you out of the huge pumpkin. I find carving pumpkins to be a lot of fun and this would be fun to try. It is fascinating how visual this artist is to create these sculptures from just a pumpkin.

  3. I find pumpkin carving to be a lot of fun, especially because it is only done once a year. This is artist is very talented with having such a vision for having a pumpkin as the medium. I like the one where it appears as the zombie is coming out of the big pumpkin trying to come at you. This is very talented art work and I believe it would be fun to try. It would be fun because it is a lot different from what we know and do for pumpkin carving.

  4. One of the reasons I look forward to the fall is because if I have the time to carve a pumpkin it is one of my favorite things to do. I think it would be so much fun to try and carve a pumpkin like this artist. It is honestly very fascinating the way he can visualize these pieces and put so much detail into the sculptor, with using a pumpkin as the medium. My favorite out of the pictures you posted is the one where the zombie looking guy is coming out of the big pumpkin like it is coming at you.

  5. This is a much more interesting way to carve a pumpkin. I would definitely try this myself. I’m sure it would take many tries to get something even close to what he has done but it would be fun and you don’t need to clean out the inside (huge bonus). I think this is more impressive than clay. One reason is it’s a subtractive method. Another is that it’s some much work for something so short lived. So few people will actually get to see the pumpkin but luckily we can all see the pictures.

  6. Traditions always play a big part in my life. Halloween is a time were we can dress in any costume we like , hand out candy, but not only that but to be able to carve pumkins to our imagination. I really enjoyed watching Halloween War very much. Ray is a very talented man with a great imagination to be able to carves this pumkins in different faces. I would definitely try this .

  7. Absolutely incredible. We are too familiar with the pumpkin faces and small designs that we see during Halloween but this is something extraordinary. The face of that one zombie standing up with its right hand stretched forward has so much detail on it i am astonished. In that video he seems to be working extremely fast too, don’t know if that’s years of practice or if he is a fast worker but its amazing to watch. And to come up with those faces and expressions off of the top of your head is an art in itself. I would not be as impressed if it were done by Clay because Clay can be taken off and reattached, but the pumpkin has very little margin for error. I would like to try something like this but i doubt it will come out to be anything other than the triangle eyes and the jagged mouth.

  8. One of my favorite things about Halloween is carving pumpkins. Every year I let my kids pick out 3-4 different characters and we carve each one out of a pumpkin. We love to see the end result when we put them out in the front yard and stick a candle in them. One of the best feelings you can have with your kids. I think this guy is a true artist. His sculptures are amazing, and you can tell it comes so naturally to him. I would definitely love to try the sculpting process of the pumpkin rather than carving it, but I would need to work with some sort of template. I could not do it free hand.

  9. I swear every year I tell myself I’m going to carve my pumpkins some what like this but always comes out disastrous and just end up enjoying the pumpkin seeds instead. I have issues carving my pumpkin 2d but this guy is carving 3d and 4D….on a pumpkin! He truly is gifted and his creativity is unbelievable.

  10. This is cool, never seen it done before. I can barely carve a pumpkin the normal way so I doubt that I could do this. I find it to be more impressive when done on the pumpkin instead of clay due to the fact that clay is flatter and has no ridges or groove like a pumpkin does.

  11. I’ve pumpkin carved in the past but don’t think I would ever be able to do something so detailed. I could see it being just as impressive as done in marble possibly even more so it seems like it would be a hard medium to work with. I really like this art work I think it’s really unique as well as a way to take a holiday tradition to the next level of artistic ability.

  12. I think this kind of artwork is amazing, especially because of how much detail is put into every pumpkin. The artist seems so passionate which adds to the quality of the work.
    I would like to try it, i probably would do a very simple and basic job, but i would give it a shot.
    Doing this kind of work with clay would be impressive too, i think it would be amazing.

  13. i think this was a fantastic piece of art! I like how it has so much of detail and hard work is put in to it! i mean I could never think of carving pumpkin in such details, hats off to him!! i have seen people work with clay and all but making something out of pumpkin with such fine work is fabulous.

  14. This is talent. Some of those carvings seem outright impossible to me. Just imagining the precision and time it took for some of the carvings. I would love to buy one of his carvings and like it freeze it in a ice sculpture so it lasts forever, that would be really awesome. Kinda amazing how he left his job to go out and live his dream, that is something not many get a chance to do. The amazing things some people can do, I’d really like to try it myself sometime.

  15. This type of art intrest me and makes me want to try his techniques. I like how you can turn a pumkin into artwork by just carving into it. If i tried carving a pumkin like this it wouldnt turn out even half as good as he makes it. I feel like if you used clay to sculpt a piece like this it wouldnt look the same and it would be easier to create this artwork. He puts such detail into the pumkin that it truly looks like its comming out of the pumkin.

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