Pumpkin with a molded face.

I started making pumpkins with painted clay faces back in 1991. In several of those twenty-some years, I made as many as six for friends and colleagues. I thought faces on inanimate objects would be an interesting way to make a photo illustration. My first was an apple with a surprised look as it fell from a tree. Pumpkins were a natural follow-up; I made them at Halloween for clients and for the bar at the restaurant I cooked for. Then Photoshop happened. Continuing to try to use the illustration idea in a world suddenly filled with easy digital perfection seemed silly, but the idea of a realistic pumpkin was still a lot of fun. The pumpkins rot away, leaving their painted clay faces. I think the impermanence of the piece adds to the fun. This is my return after several years of being too busy and I thought to take a few snapshots during the process. Not many. I hate taking pictures. But making the pumpkins is a lot of fun. I think I’ll enter this one in the Library’s pumpkin carving contest.

The process is straightforward: I push modeling clay onto a pumpkin and sculpt it into the shape I want. The clay gets finished with acrylic paint. Pretty simple. The faces have evolved, of course. I paint the eyes and teeth naturally for no reason other than I think they look good that way. They get finished with acrylic gloss medium. Everything else is painted with orange that’s mixed to match the pumpkin.

Edit added Nov 3:

It was a good fight, and we won! A tad worse for the battle, but folks usually poke and prod. Totally expected, though always a bit disheartening.

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5 Responses to pumpkin

  1. Cindy says:

    Really scary! What are the teeth made of? Or do I not want to know where you got them???

    • davidstong says:

      Hi Cindy. Everybody has been asking that; I guess I should have taken a picture. The teeth are just small pieces of modeling clay, rolled and painted.

      • Kim says:

        It is so nice to see one of your pumpkin creations again. The teeth definitely make it scary. Imagine if it could float or “swim in the air, like a pumpkin piraña. That is what my mind goes to. Imagine the terror of being chased by a swarm of pumpkin piraña? Lock the doors, block the windows, there is a swarm of PPs outside. ;-)

        • davidstong says:

          Hi Kim! They would swarm, wouldn’t they? And bounce after people. I think there’s a game in that… Biting Piranha Pumpkins. You’d see them the way folks see Pokemon creatures, only the pumpkins chase you whenever you use your camera.

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