Magazine article Sunset

Pumpkin Art

Magazine article Sunset

Pumpkin Art

Article excerpt

In the days before Halloween, Bob Worick is hard at work baking eyeballs. Not real ones, of course. These eyeballs are clay. It's all in preparation for that one night of the year when goblins, witches, and ballerinas flock to see his ghoulish display of carved pumpkins--35- to 40-pound creations that come alive with an eerie glow.

Worick is a pumpkin artist--one of a hundred or so we heard from when we asked readers to tell us about their art. The works shown here are the cream of the crop. They aren't your typical jack-o'-lanterns with triangle eyes and big, toothy grins. These are true--albeit perishable--works of art.

Paul and Diana McCabe have been carving their pumpkin pharaoh, King Tutkin, for 12 years, refining their technique each year. "We began carving King Tutkin after visiting the Tut exhibit in Seattle," says Paul. They started out using a traditional cut that went all the way through the flesh. Over the years, the McCabes' imaginative work has evolved into the fully carved image that you see on page 93.

Their Halloween project is a family production. "Diana is the artist who carves the face," says Paul. "My son, Ian, and I skin the rest of the mask and scrape out the insides of the 80-pound pumpkin." Thinning the interior allows the pumpkin to glow. On Halloween night, they strap King Tutkin to a hand truck and take him trick-or-treating around the neighborhood.

Pamella Nesbit, of Sebastopol, California, has turned pumpkin-carving into a party. It all began several years ago when her friends, the Gordons, showed the Nesbit family how to use wood-carving tools to sculpt pumpkins. Last year when the Nesbits, Gordons, and friends got together for their annual pumpkin party, they carved more than 70 pumpkins into scary, funny, and exotic faces and Halloween scenes. "There's nothing quite so exciting to a bunch of ghosts and witches as when they walk into our yard and discover fairyland fight before their eyes," says Nesbit.

Carving remains the most popular method used by pumpkin artists. But Norton Roitman sculpts his pumpkins with modeling clay purchased at a crafts store. Since the method requires no cuts, the pumpkins last for a month or more (cut pumpkins last for three to five days).

Before starting, Roitman puts the pumpkin on a coffee table and looks at it face-to-face. "I turn the pumpkin around and look for its expression," he explains. "Once I find it, I lay the foundation of the facial structure by applying a single color of modeling clay. …

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