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Pumpkin Sculpting Master Turns Ordinary Gourds Into an Expressive Cast of Characters

Year after year, Ray Villafane of Villafane Studios transforms ordinary pumpkins and gourds into extraordinary works of art. Carving and crafting a myriad of characters, his realistic-looking creations push the envelope of what we previously thought was possible with squash. Villafane and his crew bring the inanimate objects to life, giving them personalities that run the gamut from goofy to creepy. As he continues to hone his craft, the carved characters often grow arms and legs, and they’re stars of amusing scenes where they prank one another.

Seeing Villafane’s newest creations is one of our favorite fall traditions. This year, he’s created two pickled pumpkin coffin displays for Nickelodeon Universe in the Mall of America. Housed in tanks, these eerily-lit characters—bathed in blue and green lighting—delight and spook visitors, who can also see more of Villafane’s handiwork throughout the park.

In addition to his work at the Mall of America, Villafane Studios is also hosting a pumpkin carving contest with the Sullen Art Collective. This year, they’ve decided to shake things up and have contestants submit their best pumpkin scenes until the November 1 deadline.

Villafane Studios: Website | Facebook | Instagram

Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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