Artist Ray Villafane, a two-time winner of the Food Network's 'Challenge: Outrageous Pumpkins, works on a intricate carving. He and partner, Andy Bergholtz are the creative forces behind Villafane Studios. See some of thier masterpieces in this slideshow.
Villifane and his team spent two days whittling and shaping an army of living dead from some of the area’s biggest Halloween gourds.
Right out of the 1984 movie 'Gremlins,' this strange creature called a mogwai spawns little evil monsters. Villafane has carved a wide range of subjects over the years, from ferocious animals to President Obama. His detailed precision makes every pumpkin seem to come to life.
Missing teeth with bulging eyes, this skeleton is enough to scare the pants off you. Though Villafane now makes extremely intricate carvings, his first attempts didn't quite go as planned. "Yeah, it was horrible. It didn't work out at all," he recalled to TODAY.com.
One pumpkin carving another, a unique perspective. Before Villifane's rise to pumpkin fame, he began carving pumpkins on a lark for his art students in a small rural school district in Michigan. The hobby changed his life as he gained a viral following online and unlocked his genuine love of sculpting.
A face in a pumpkin appears to be holding it's breath. According to Villifane, he started displaying some of his carvings submerged in tanks of vinegar. This way they last for weeks and months.
Villafane gave this pumpkin arms made out of vines — a terrifying detail. He occasionally auctions off a very limited set of the vine arms on his website.
This ugly three-eyed monster is terrifying.
Maybe it's Babar, maybe Shep from 'George of the Jungle,' whichever it is, the carving is amazing, the trunk and tusks are very realistic.
Individual feathers make this owl carving distinct and complex.
This pumpkin balances a pumpkin seed on his tongue making it a very 3-D experience."He is not limited by any material. The man could sculpt the statue of David out of a stick of butter," Villafane's Andy Berholtz told TODAY.com.
Villafane said on The Martha Stewart show that carving a realistic eye entails first drawing one circle for the iris, then establishing where the highlights will be, and then another circle for the pupil.
If your body remains still, then your mind will follow.
This display of a plant-like creature with sharp teeth was created in October 2013 for a display at the New York Botanical Garden.
This Joker clown with a cigar and evil smile is sure to be a menace on any house porch.
That's one angry ape.
Silly, sleepy character.
'Planet of the Apes' will never look the same.
Villafane crafted this pumpkin of a deranged pig for his family in 2011, according to his Facebook page.
While Villafane's smaller pumpkins are impressive enough, the carver and his team made a "harvester" display at the New York Botanical Garden on Oct. 20, 2012, using an 1,800 pound pumpkin.
"When I carve, I kind of go with the flow," Villafane said. "Sometimes I might have a preconceived idea, but sometimes I make up the idea as I go."
Ray Villafane's signature Halloween pumpkins are known for their lifelike subjects.
In addition to carving pumpkins, Villafane also works with wax and sand. “He is not limited by any material,” said Andy Bergholtz, Villafane’s partner and a fellow sculptor.
Villafane advises would-be carvers to steer clear of perfectly round pumpkins. His favorite carving pumpkins have an oblong shape.
Villafane also encourages aspiring pumpkin carvers to work with thick pumpkins. “Pick up three pumpkins of the same size,” Villafane advised. “If one feels much heavier than the others, it’s got a thick wall.”
We’d rather not ask what this poor fellow did to get himself this distressed.
Maybe this carving could inspire kids to cool it a bit with the Halloween candy?
Funny detail: Villafane has made a name for himself with pumpkin carving even though he's allergic to pumpkins. "If I’m carving too many or too long, my skin gets really itchy," Villafane said. "If pumpkin juice gets anywhere near my eyes, my eyes itch."
This guy might just need to take two aspirin and call us in the morning.
Awwwww. Remember Chucky?
People often ask Villafane whether he crafts some of his pumpkin creations by putting more than one pumpkin together. His answer? Nope. With only a few rare exceptions – like this embellished carving – he makes a point of using just one solid pumpkin.
Villafane said an oblong-shaped pumpkin is best for carvers who want to create realistic-looking faces.
Because everybody feels a little bit out of place at times.
Villafane's two youngest sons, love to carve pumpkins too. “When they see me carving, they get mad because THEY want to carve the pumpkin,” Villafane said.
Villafane’s son once asked for a pumpkin when he was offered the chance to get a new toy. “He wanted the pumpkin so he could carve it,” Villafane said. “He’s going to be an AWESOME pumpkin carver when he’s older.”
Villafane recommends using the following tools to carve a pumpkin: a large clay ribbon loop; a medium clay ribbon loop; a mini clay ribbon loop; an X-ACTO knife, and a paring knife.
Villafane’s pumpkin-carving has opened all sorts of unexpected doors for him. To name just one example: He carved pumpkins in Las Vegas for Heidi Klum's Halloween party.
Villafane also carved for President Obama at the White House. He was invited to return for a repeat performance, but he couldn’t make it because he already had been contracted at the Nicholas Conservatory in Rockford, Ill.
Villafane has sculpted for Marvel, DC Comics, Warner Bros. and other outlets and has created collectible figurines from “Batman,” “Superman” and other beloved comic-book series. He’s also made collectibles from movies such as “Terminator,” “Ghost Rider” and “X-Men” and from the role-playing game World of Warcraft.
Villafane has trounced competing carvers on television on “Food Network Challenge: Outrageous Pumpkins” more than once.
The artist also demonstrated his carving prowess on “The Martha Stewart Show” on the Hallmark Channel in October 2011. Martha wanted to inspire her viewers to give carving a try.
Villafane also did some serious pumpkin carving at Sousa’s Gardens in Bermuda and at the New York Botanical Garden.
Villafane used a little bit of extra pumpkin meat to create the tiny spikes added to this Predator’s face and head. Otherwise, the rest of the carving was made with just one pumpkin.
The protruding snakes on Medusa's head – carved from separate pumpkin meat and added to the sculpture – are attached to tiny motors so they move.
Villafane made the feather on this carving of a Native American from separate pumpkin meat and added it to the sculpture when it was done.
Villafane said his carving prompted an invitation to carve on the "Late Show with David Letterman."
Or, wait ... maybe this guy's from Dr. Seuss ...
Are you lookin' at me?
Is he happy or angry – or both?
That's right, buddy. Fight the urge to say something you might regret.
To learn more about Villafane Studios work with pumpkins, wax and sand, visit http://villafanestudios.com/