Halloween often means the appearances of Jack-o-lanterns and carved pumpkins in every size, shape and design. The sky is the limit when it comes to creating this seasonal ritual. There are those with skilled hands and a very fertile imagination who have elevated carved pumpkins to another level. Nothing compares to these hauntingly realistic three-dimensional pumpkin sculptures that seem to make these innocent fruits come alive.
Here is a gallery of museum-quality pumpkin sculptures, by the Edward Scissorhands of pumpkin sculpting, master carver Ray Villafena of New York.
Be ready to be stunned and awed.
From schoolteacher to sculptor
Who is Ray Villafane?
Turning orange gourds to familiar faces
What going under the knife can do
Ray Villafane sculpts pumpkins with a scalpel and a spoon, in addition to various size clay ribbon loop tools to create fluid contours. He can skin, chisel and carve famous celebrities like David Letterman and Barack Obama in record time. He was a two-time winner of the Food Network's Callenge:Outrageous Pumpkins, and deservingly so.
According to Ray Villafena, the best shapes for carving faces are the tall and oblong-shaped pumpkins rather than the round ones. He prefers the ones that that have been flattened on one side from sitting on the ground for a while. The flattened side creates a ridge all around and this is where the face is sculpted. To create three-dimensional portraits, one need to carve as deep as possible being careful as one nears the center.
These two characters are out of their gourds.
Tip from Villafane: the best pumpkins to carve are the heavier and meatier ones so these can withstand the chiseling, cutting and rigours of sculpting.
Pumpkin meat holds moisture and a dull tool can turn the texture to mush and invite mold. Sharp cuts ensure the longevity of a pumpkin sculpture.
Feather in your cap
The round-headed pumpkin on the left seems to say: "You may have a feather in your cap, Chief, but I am a pumpkin unicorn."
The feather on the Native American Indian was added from another pumpkin.
Expressive and awesome
These two pumpkin characters reminded me of a spinster and an elusive bachelor. She appears to be thinking this- "Men are like pumpkins. It seems like all the good ones are either taken or they've had everything scraped out of their heads with a spoon."
Look at the details on the faces of these two pumpkin characters. Only the skillful hands of a master carver like Ray Villafane can create realistic eyes with the sharp cuts of a scalpel. He does not use add-ons or embellishments that are not made of pumpkin. He is a die-hard master pumpkin sculptor to the core.
A pumpkin by any other name is still a squash
The name pumpkin originated from the Greek word for "large melon" which is "pepon." "Pepon" was changed by the French into "pompon." The English changed "pompon" to "Pumpion." American colonists changed "pumpion" into "pumpkin."
Jackhyde and Zipperhead
Would you rather be in stitches or be zipped up?
Zipperhead on the right was the most complex and intricate sculpture that Ray Villafane did. It took him most of the day to create this outrageously awesome pumpkin portrait as compared to others which took a couple of hours.
Pumpkins come in every shape, size and color
The pumpkin on the left was carved sideways so that its stem appears to be impaled into the character's head. Can you feel the pain of this pumpkinhead? The character on the right looks like it broke out of its pumpkin shell and screaming "I'm out of here."
What is Halloween without the macabre?
These are two of Ray Villafane's jack-o-lanterns inspired by the sci-fi movie Predator. Ray Villafane has sculpted for Marvel, DC Comics, Warner Bros. as well as film collectibles (Terminator, Ghost Rider, X-Men) and the role-playing game World of Warcraft. He also competed in Jesolo, Italy in the annual World Championship of Sand Sculpting. Give Ray anything, pumpkins, gourds, sand, and he will turn these into some magical mastepiece.
A must-see video of Ray Villafane's pumpkin artwork
Science fiction characters
Ray Villafane has worked as a sculptor for DC and Marvel comics which is apparent in his rendition of the ghastly and horrific pumpkin portraits.
The Medusa sculpture was created with snakes made from other pumpkins and integrated into this ghoulish creature. The incredible attention to details like the scales and flailing tongues of the serpents can only be achieved by a master carver extraordinaire Ray Villafane.
After hours of hard work creating your work of art, how do you preserve a Jack-o-lantern? Here's how.
Farmer Mike carves a pumpkin at a Texas State Fair
This is a farmer carving a giant pumpkin at a Texas State Fair with a carving knife. No matter how you cut it, a pumpkin can transform from a humble fruit to a comical character. Leave it to the vivid imagination and dexterity of a farmer who grew his own pumpkin.
The outcome is this delightful pumpkin sculpture is one in a million and a ton of fun to create.
spectacular pumpkin portraits
- Macabre Pumpkins - Ray Villafane’s Gruesome Jack-O’-Lanterns (GALLERY)
Macabre Pumpkins - Ray Villafane is very, very skilled in the art of carving jack-o-lanterns, the majority of which are very macabre.
- Ray Villafane:Pumpkin Carving 2011
More extraordinary pumpkin carving from Arizona based artist Ray Villafane (featured).Â Using only common clay carving tools to sculpt his pumpkins, Villafane
- Ray Villafane Best Halloween Pumpkin Carving Artist Food Network | Wacktrap
Ray Villafane, Pumpkin Carving Artist--quite possibly the best pumpkin carver in the world. Villafane hails from New York, born in 1969, currently living in Michigan but traveling worldwide.
- Great gourds! Take your pumpkin carving to new level - Today Halloween Guide - TODAY.com
Ray Villafane is a mster pumpkin carver who is allergic to pumpkins.
- Meet the Edward Scissorhands of Pumpkin Carving - CBS News
CBS Evening News: Meet the Edward Scissorhands of Pumpkin Carving - Michigan Sculptor Ray Villafane Has a "Skin 'Em Alive" Approach to Sculpting That Borders on Obsession
- Ray Villafane: Pumpkin Carving To Collectible Figurines | The Comic Book Nerd
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Ray Villafane will show you how
Step by step instructions to sculpt a pumpkin masterpiece
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Pumpkin carving tools - Get started with these essentials
Interesting links about Pumpkins
- Pumpkingutter - Pumpkin Carving Gallery
This is a gallery of pumpkin carvings by Scott Cummins from Perryton. Texas.
- Pumpkin Carving Tools from Martha Stewart
Holiday ideas from Martha Stewart on marthastewart.com. Our best cookie recipes, menu ideas, crafts projects, decorating tips, and more for Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Easter, Fourth of July, and all your favorite holidays.
- Pumpkin Patch - Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Pumpkins!
Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Pumpkins for Halloween!
- Pumpkin History & Facts
Information about the history of pumpkins.
- Some Pumpkins! : The Colonial Williamsburg Official History Site
Colonial Williamsburg journal, a popular history magazine about historic Williamsburg its people.