Spooktacular! But will your family’s Halloween pumpkin look as scary as this tonight?

November 4, 2008

In windows across Britain tonight, ghoulish faces, carved from pumpkins and illuminated by candles, will stare out eerily at passers-by.

But while most are no more than two eyes and a toothy grin, Scott Cummins and Ray Villafane have taken their pumpkin heads to a whole new level – as these extraordinary pictures show.

In just an hour or two of carving, slicing and gouging, and using everything from spoons and scalpels to garden spades, these incredible pumpkin Picassos can transform a humble Halloween gourd into a spitting image of Barack Obama or a Star Wars stormtrooper.

Using his background in high art and his work in designing models for D.C and Marvel comics, Ray, 39, has sculpted intricate faces out of the common pumpkin that make your hair stand on end.

Based in the rural Michigan town of Ballaire, Ray’s pumpkins have become something of an internet sensation, and include some familiar faces.

His carvings, which include ‘The Predator’ and Barack Obama, also take in a wide variety of gothic gargoyles in keeping with the devilish theme of the popular American holiday.

Using only common clay carving tools to create his Halloween pumpkin masterpieces, Ray explains how his artistic method works.

‘Not all pumpkins will look good and the most important thing about a pumpkin is it weight. You need to pick the meatiest pumpkin.

‘Sometimes I pick up a beautifully shaped pumpkin but when I pick it up 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,’ says Ray.

‘The sculpting has always been a passion,’ says Ray.

‘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.

‘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,’ explains the pumpkin carver.

At the beginning Ray didn’t always get the results he was looking for, resulting in a few fists through the front of the pumpkins.

However, working for D.C comics, the home of Superman and Batman, Ray has honed his incredible seasonal talent.

‘Recently I have been really sitting down and giving my Halloween pumpkin designs more thought than usual due to the increased interest in my carvings.

‘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 Predator’ model, which took the best part of a day. Otherwise, the models take a couple of hours,’ says Ray.

Over the last two Halloween’s Ray’s pumpkins have begun to appear in online blogs and have really raised his profile.

He has even made national television appearances and has been scheduled to appear on the US sports network ESPN where he is supposed to unveil his Barack Obama carving.

Obviously, carving a potential president is a serious pressure, so Ray has to ensure that he gets it right.

‘If it is someone like Obama or even the Predator then I will have to use five or six images to make sure that I get the right details.

‘If it is something that I am creating myself then I will do it off the top of my head, like the skull and gargoyles,’ says Ray.

Around this time pumpkin carvings are usually a couple of triangles cut on the outside of the flesh, with his carvings Ray has seriously raised the bar to frightening levels.


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