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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The art of pumpkin carving from the hands of a master

"Jack O Lantern" photo by Petr Kratochvil
All my life as an artist I have asked myself: What pushes me continually to make sculpture? I have found the answer. Art is an action against death. It is a denial of death.

Nothing symbolizes Halloween more than a jack-o-lantern. Traditionally they have ushered in the spook season for centuries.

It is believed that carving pumpkins originated from the Irish custom of hollowing out turnips, gourds or potatoes, which were conveniently used to house a burning coal - a lantern of sorts. That custom was based upon a legend about a man named:”Stingy Jack,” a bit of a scoundrel during his lifetime, he not only met the Devil face-to-face, but tricked him.

When Jack passed from this worldly realm, his raucous lifestyle did not permit him into Heaven, nor was he even allowed eternal sanctuary in Hell, but was banished by the Devil, out of the land of fire and brimstone, and sent on his way with only a burning coal to illuminate his journey through eternity.

The video below reflects (in my humble opinion) how far the carving of a simple turnip has come. In the hands of master artist, Ray Villafane, this symbol of All Hallows’ Eve embraces the stuff of nightmares.

Villafane not only creates works from pumpkins, but is an accomplished sculptor with sand, and the creator of model toys. His clients have included such well known companies as Warner Bros./DC Comics, Marvel, McFarlane Toys and Sideshow Collectibles.

In addition to the video below, there are numerous photos in an online gallery of Villafane’s sculptures at: