October 31, 2007, - 3:53 pm

Forget Jack-O-Lanterns; Meet Grumpkins

By Debbie Schlussel
**** UPDATE: Video Added, Below. SCROLL DOWN. ****
Today’s Wall Street Journal has a lengthy front-page piece on sculptor Patrick Moser and his very interesting medium–pumpkins . . . pumpkins which weigh up to almost 2,000 pounds apiece. And the detail and results of his artistry make even the most ornate jack-o-lantern pumpkins look like nursery school stuff. Moser calls them Grumpkins (check out his site).
Here is an excerpt of what he does, along with a few of my favorite Grumpkins by this cool artisan:

Muffled inside the 10-inch-thick walls of a 908-pound pumpkin, Patrick Moser’s voice was an echoing blur.

grumpkin.jpg

“It’s beautiful in here,” he shouted. “It’s like Carlsbad Caverns.”
As a giant-pumpkin carver, Mr. Moser regularly ventures where no man has gone before. Carving the behemoths isn’t just an art, he says, it’s a personal odyssey. And this month, his journey has brought him to Pumpkinville, a rustic pumpkin farm tucked into a valley of the Allegheny Mountains, where he has been commissioned to sculpt a hulking pale orange specimen harvested by a nearby grower.
Cross-breeding and better growing techniques have created a new variety of monster pumpkins called Atlantic Giant. . . . These are gargantuan, gnarly and lopsided freaks of nature with shells up to a foot thick in places, and cavities big enough to contain a grown man. Transforming them into organic sculpture takes chisels, power tools and perseverance. . . .

grumpkin2.jpg

Many giant carvers compare what they do to working in stone or wood. But they face one problem other sculptors don’t: Their artwork can rot before they even finish it. . . .To preserve his work as long as possible — for weeks and sometimes months — [Moser] has developed an “embalming” process in which he bathes his finished sculpture in antibacterial soap, bleach and Tilex bathroom cleaner.
“Most people have no idea what goes into carving a giant pumpkin,” notes the 40-year-old carver from Jamestown, N.Y. Before he can begin to carve at Pumpkinville, a farm that invites the public in every fall to stroll the grounds, sip hot cider and pick out pumpkins for Halloween, Mr. Moser must first examine the pumpkin from the inside.
Earlier this month a tractor lifted one atop a sturdy wood frame. Then, lying on his back below the fruit, Mr. Moser took nearly an hour to hack his way in. Shards of orange pumpkin flesh flew through the air, clotting his hair and sticking to his brow as he hewed a large manhole in the bottom using first a kitchen knife, then a large handsaw, and finally a crowbar.
It’s dangerous work, he explained, grunting and panting as he heaved on the crowbar to dislodge a large piece: “One slip, and you could have a 200-pound chunk-o’-pumpkin comin’ at you from four feet overhead.” . . .
Mr. Moser’s trademark is the “Grumpkin” — the great pumpkin personality he finds trapped inside every giant. He selects colorful names for his Grumpkins characters. . . . Mr. Moser set out his briefcase of carving tools: chisels and clay-sculpting loops, lemon zesters and super-sharp Microplane graters. For his Grumpkin face, he then removed all the pumpkin skin and shaped smooth bulging eyes accented by a big nose and a broad, toothy grin.

pumpkinsculpture.jpg

So, when are the Bill and Hillary and Rosie O’Donnell Grumpkins coming?
Read more about Grumpkins here and here.
**** UPDATE: This video is not a Grumpkin video, but it’s pretty darn close and short and funny, too:

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2 Responses

Now that’s a talent you don’t see every day. Asbsolutely beautiful work. Now if we can only prevent the PC croud from destroying halloween like they’ve tried with Christmas. Perhaps the Jack-o-lanterns could be carved with Hajibs? Santa Claus could wear a Burka and hand out Falafel and Korans to all the little infidels.

RC Flyer on October 31, 2007 at 4:53 pm

Patrick Moser was an awesome artist and a wonderful friend. Known to everyone who loved him as Uncle Dude, he will be sorely missed. He would tell us all to “BE JOLLY”. Not an easy task for those of us who knew and loved him. His life was short but very full. We will do our best to “BE JOLLY” but this world is just a bit gloomier without Uncle Dude to “Let there be light”. You went too soon for all of us. Halloween will never be quite the same without you and your Grumpkins.

Dawn Springstead on August 8, 2010 at 4:18 pm

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