The Pumpkin Chronicles
Each Halloween I carve my pumpkin with an original artistic design.
Click on each thumbnail to see a larger image.
Fairly standard designs, but I'm proud of them because I GREW ALL THE PUMPKINS MYSELF!
I think this was my cleverest design; I carved the pumpkin with diagonal cuts which DID NOT REMOVE ANY OF THE SHELL! The eye, nose and mouth holes were created by sliding the sections apart, then inserting blocks of orange gelatin. I had blueprints! This was voted the top prize at Mike Orman's infamous annual pumpkin-carving party that year. I don't think I ever won again after that; I personally believe I was blacklisted because this first design was so darn good everyone was jealous for years!
In the mid-80's, personal computers were swiftly coming on the scene, and my 1985 pumpkin rode the cutting edge of the trend. This was an electronic, interactive design: when you pushed a button on the side of the pumpkin, the screen lit up and a buzzing noise came from inside.
The idea here (and in several later years) was to not cut all the way through the shell, but carve just deep enough that the 60W light bulb inside would make the face glow.
Nothing too wild, but I thought it came out pretty nice.
Curved / Straight
The big pumpkin has a vaguely Polynesian feel; the smaller pumpkin on the right was influenced by Native American designs.
I can't say for sure what inspired this design based on intersecting arcs, but it could have been Native American dreamcatchers.
Small round holes all over a large pumpkin, each one holding a Christmas-tree light bulb. When lit, this baby could be seen all the way down the block!
A flag-based design; glitter paint provides the colors. Again, lit from within.
Got very avant-garde with this one. Plastic shards (created by breaking apart a discarded clipboard) penetrate the pumpkin's shell, and transmit the light from a light bulb within the shell.
Spike Through the Head
A bit gory but my all-time crowd-pleaser, especially among teen-age trick-or-treaters.
My least-inspired design; my excuse is that I thought it up literally 5 minutes before I had to start carving. The top section was lifted and rotated to make the openings; a strobe light within provided the illumination.
Conceptual design and small-pumpkin carving by Heather Orman. Again, lit from within by a 60W light bulb.
Inspired by the lyrics of the song "One World (Not Three)" by Sting:
We can all sink or we all float
'Cause we're all in the same big boat
One world is enough for all of us
It may seem a million miles away
But it gets a little closer every day
Continent outlines drawn by Heather Orman. Again, lit from within by a 60W light bulb.
I had just trimmed the cactus plants in my front yard, which gave me the raw material for this year's prickly pumpkin. How did I put it together? VERY CAREFULLY! Again, lit from within, but this time with a red light bulb.
Inspired by a sculpture at the Phoenix Art Museum called The Last Scattering Surface.
Made from some scrap metal tubes and 15 plastic Easter eggs. Again, lit from within by a 100-watt light bulb.
Halloween fell on a Sunday this year, so I had a bit more time to work on my pumpkin and got really ambitious! The design was inspired by a metal spider sculpture made from a Volkswagen Beetle that I had photographed earlier in the month. Instead of a VW, I used a pumpkin (painted black) for the spider body. The legs and fangs are carved from fronds that I trimmed from my palm trees, painted black and red; the eyes are orange plastic Easter eggs. Again, lit from within by a 100-watt light bulb.
Día de los Muertos
Día de los Muertos ("Day of the Dead") is a traditional Mexican celebration to remember the dead and to honor ancestors. This pumpkin design is inspired by the skull masks that some participants wear. All the carving and painting was done on the outside of the pumpkin, which was then lit by an external light bulb.
The torch has been passed to the next generation! This year's design and carving is by Kelly Orman. Note the "brains" leaking out from the cracked helmet! Lit by an external light bulb.
Revised: October 31, 2013
Copyright © 2004-2013 Joe Orman (except lyrics by Sting)
Back to Joe Orman's Photo Pages
Back to Joe Orman's Home Page
Please send comments or questions to