With Halloween less than three weeks away, pumpkins are a popular item for both home decoration and artistic expression. The ubiquitous display of seasonal squashes on front stoops is often enhanced by carvings – from the traditional triangular eyes and toothy smile to much more elaborate designs.
Pumpkin patches in the area, including the United Methodist Church on New Britain Ave. in West Hartford (commonly known as "The Pumpkin Church), and Tariffville’s Trinity Church pumpkin patch (695 Hopmeadow St., Simsbury) offer a wide variety of sizes and shapes suitable for a fun family carving activity as well as in-depth carving projects with a serious artistic component.
Other picking locations in the area can be found here.
“They’re great for carving,” said Tammy Duray of the Trinity Church pumpkin patch in Simsbury.
An added benefit of purchasing from the three local pumpkin patches is that proceeds benefit the churches youth missions and outreach programs, sending young church members to locations in Connecticut and across the country to perform good deeds.
Once you've selected your pumpkin, do you leave it "au naturale" or do you put your artistic talents to work?
Nick Lombardo, a Granby Memorial High School graduate, has been producing increasingly complex pumpkin carvings for the past four years. His project for this Halloween is a recreation of a design by internationally recognized graffiti artist Banksy. His favorite carving thus far, pictured with this article, was a reproduction of the Stone Brewery gargoyle logo.
“[That design involved] a lot of trial and error,” Lombardo said, noting that the end product was definitely worth the effort and he received plenty of compliments about his work.
As for the design process, Lombardo said he starts with a reference image. Much as a wood carver or printmaker works, he then decides what stays and what goes on the pumpkin’s surface, which can be a very intricate and deliberate process.
“I start with an image in my mind,” Lombardo said.
Lombardo has also begun working in relief, not completely carving trough a pumpkin but removing differing amounts of surface material to allow varying amounts of light through the pumpkin’s skin.
“I’m a little scared to attempt that,” Lombardo said, noting the difficulties in working with pumpkin skin and flesh as a medium.
When picking a design, Lombardo follows this process: find a piece of reference material that is possible to reproduce on the pumpkin, picture the design in his head and project it onto the pumpkin, decide on the most appropriate tools and search out useful techniques for carving.
Patch readers responded to a question we posted on our Farmington Valley-area Facebook pages with some interesting suggestions for tools and designs.
Harry Sawyer, Jr. commented on The Granbys Patch Facebook page that he finds drywall saws to be an excellent tool for carving. The saws have sharp teeth and thin blades, allowing for intricate detail work.
An unorthodox but illuminating design concept came from Granby’s Susan Wutka Accetura: “[A] power drill … for a cool polka-dot, disco ball sort of look.”
The disco ball project doesn’t have to involve intricate carving and is a unique idea that doesn’t require a large time commitment.
Don’t have access to a variety of specialist hand and power tools? Spirit Halloween locations in Avon and at Westfarms Mall offer pre-packaged carving tools to facilitate the process.
Don’t have time to carve but want to get in on the seasonal spirit? The Trinity Church pumpkin patch also offers decorative stickers for non-carvers to place on pumpkins.
One of the most unique carvings produced from Trinity Church pumpkins was an especially large pumpkin hollowed out and secured so that a baby could be placed inside (but not overnight, of course) — an especially unique pumpkin carving.
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