Amazing artist who carves pumpkin portraits Art in just two hours

Monday, May 7, 2012
It takes several months to grow the fruit but amazingly just two hours for artist Ray Villafane to sculpt these petrifyingly detailed portraits out of pumpkin.

The American model designer and former art teacher uses spoons and a scalpel to carve the innocent orange gourds into Halloween horrors in double quick time.

As you might expect Villafane, who has worked for D.C and Marvel comics, is very particular about his pumpkins.
'Not all pumpkins will look good and the most important thing about a pumpkin is its weight,' he says.

'You need to pick the meatiest pumpkin.

'Sometimes I pick up a beautifully shaped pumpkin but when I do I realise that it is not heavy enough. Its wall is just not thick enough for the carving rigours.

'I also like a pumpkin with character. One with nobly ridges is good, so that I can utilise that in the carving procedure, like with sculpting noses.'

Villafane, 41, has become a minor celebrity in the States and his weird and wonderful work has featured on a range of TV programmes.

Yet he stumbled on his fruity talent almost by accident.

'I used to be an art teacher for 13 years at a Michigan School called Bellaire school and one day I was approached for Halloween to do some pumpkin carving,' he said.

'Sculpting has always been a passion. I thought why don't I try and carve the pumpkin like it is a piece of clay as opposed to a large vegetable.

'It came out alright, but the most important result was that the kids at the school absolutely loved it.

'I used to arrive at school and there would be a dozen pumpkins just sitting there waiting for me at my classroom.'

Villafane, who is still based in Bellaire, didn't perfect his art immediately and had to punch a lot of pumpkins in frustration while honing his skills.

However, working for D.C comics - the home of Superman and Batman - has helped him honed his talent.

Over the last four Octobers his pumpkins have raised his profile to the point where he has become something of a Halloween staple on TV and across the internet.

'For the past couple of years I have been really sitting down and giving my Halloween pumpkin designs more thought than usual due to the increased interest in my carvings,' he said.

'Now that the thing has grown in popularity I am definitely feeling the pressure to deliver on the pumpkin front.

'The most intricate pumpkin model that I have designed is the Zipperhead model, which took the best part of a day. Otherwise, the models take a couple of hours.

'If it is something that I am creating myself then I will do it off the top of my head, like the skulls and gargoyles. They are a pleasure to make.'