Welcome to the World of Pumpkin Carving

Michael Jackson, rest in peaceThe Truly Incredible Hulk This is the art (that's right, art!) that defies classification. It involves taking a three dimensional object and removing pieces of it until a work of art remains. Sounds like sculpture. However the result is a two dimensional image like painting or photography. What is it? Call it Pumpkin Carving.

Pumpkin carving is an art. Sometimes the results can be complex and photographic and sometimes simple yet brilliant. A good carving can be as captivating or hypnotic as any piece of art or even a lava lamp (watch one some time!).

As an art, pumpkin carving has some limitations. The Not So Incredible HulkThe first limitation is that a carving shows best in darkness. The darker the better. As this is not always possible for environmental and safety reasons, a carving may not always be seen at its best. Witness the Hulk. Without the candle and the darkness, poor Bruce is hardly recognizable. Light your candles and plunge the room into darkness and faster than you can say "Hulk Smash!" the green Goliath comes to vivid life.

Another limitation is the medium itself. It doesn't last. A traditional pumpkin is only vegetable matter and will eventually rot. Which means that your hours (yes hours) of work is fated to die quickly. You can use artificial pumpkins (as I have) but it's not the same. On the plus side, not only will they not quickly rot away, they are less messy (I guess if you like scooping out pumpkins, this is a negative.) and have more than a one or two month window of availability. For the latter point, you can also carve watermelons. The down side to the fakos is that they are thinner than the real thing, making carving more challenging and they require an artificial light. I prefer candle light, but the fakes are a fire hazard, so fake candles for fake pumpkins.

The Christmas nativityA related limitation is Hallowe'en. Like singing a Christmas carol out of season, pumpkin carving is only taken seriously as an art right around Hallowe'en. Even though a watermelon or an artificial pumpkin could be carved at any time of the year and the choice of sculture need not be Hallowe'en themed, people tend to look at you funny if the month is not October. The sculpture to the left was carved on November 3, 2007 as an exhibition for a Christmas sale and was carved into a watermelon as pumpkins are notoriously impossible to find after October 31st! Thanks to Jay Ball of pumpkinglow.com for this amazing pattern!

So why do I do it? Actually, I have fun doing it. I find this relaxing and incredibly rewarding. I love to see the results of my work come to life and see the stunned looks on people's faces when they realize what they are looking at.

I'm John Newstead and I'm a pumpkin carver!

To learn what leads one into a life of pumpkin carving, continue on at History.