Tuesday, October 22, 2013

October 20, 2013: Pumpkin Carving w/ Ray Villofane at NY Botanical Gardens

Date: October 20, 2013
Event: Giant Pumpkin Carving with Ray Villofane at New York Botanical Gardens
Location: Bronx, New York City
Summary:This guy does incredible things with pumpkins!  It's truly art!

Despite the fact that I was far from recovered from yet another West Coast swing, I had to rouse myself from my desire to spend all of Sunday on my futon to attend what is going to be a yearly event for me: going to see Ray Villofane carve giant pumpkins at The New York Botanical Gardens.

I met up with my friend, L, in a not-so-well-thought-out-plan-to-meet-on-the-subway-platform then we headed up north to The Bronx. I must admit, the sculpture itself was not quite as terrifying or (at least to me) impressive as last year. But it was still flipping amazing! And unlike last year, I got to see Mr. Villofane give a few interviews for TV as well as do a Q&A session with visitors of the garden, all of which was *very* interesting.

The idea of this carving was that a carnivorous plant was wrapping its vine around this huge pumpkin and squeezing out pumpkin wasps, which were then attacking the plant while the plant was trying to eat them. And remember, this entire scene is CARVED FROM PUMPKIN MATTER. PUMPKINS.


How about some pictures and tidbits from the interviews / Q&A?

Now, I actually went twice – once on Sunday while Mr. Villofane was there carving, and once today (Tuesday) to see the final product.

Here are some photos from Sunday (while it was still under construction).

This is what it looked like in its entirety and what it looked like when we got there.

And to give you an idea how big that pumpkin is (all 2000 lbs of it), here is a person (Chris Vierra) standing on it!

Side view of the mouth of the plant and the vine coming from it. You can also sort of see the small wooden sticks where the teeth of the plant will go.

Speaking of teeth, here is Chris Vierra installing them. Look how sharp those teeth look! Those PUMPKIN teeth!

And while Chris was putting in the teeth, one of his other carvers was off to the side prepping the pumpkin wasps. Amazing the care and detail that went into each and every bit of these creatures. Again, all made from squash.


And in yet a different part, Ray was off to the side carving this thing that neither L nor I could figure out what it was.

Well, we couldn’t figure out what it was until he hoisted it up and put it in the plant’s mouth. Oh! It’s a tongue!


And here’s just another reminder of the raw materials they used.

And a couple pictures of Ray giving his interviews and Q & A


Which is the perfect segue into the best stories from the interviews / Q&A:
  1. The interviewer asked how big the pumpkin was and he said is that this pumpkin, the one he was carving, was actually a new world record pumpkin and because of that, he didn’t want to carve it up too much --- he wanted instead for people to be able to come and appreciate the size of a world record pumpkin. That’s why it’s still mostly fully intact.
  2. The interviewer asked Chris Vierra (one of Ray’s carvers) what tools he uses to carve the pumpkins. Chris put his hand on Ray’s shoulder and said, “Well, this is the biggest tool right here.” LOLOL They both laughed, too.
  3. A kid asked what the plant eats and Ray said that it mostly eats pumpkin wasps and other large insects but if it ran out of those, it might eat small children. LOL
  4. A kids asked if he’d ever worked on a pumpkin bigger than this one. My first thought was “of course not, this is a world record holder” but the answer was surprising: yes. It turns out, in order to be considered for the world record, the pumpkin must have a perfect skin with no mold spots. So, he had worked on larger pumpkins but they didn’t have perfect skins so couldn’t be considered for world record size. Interesting!
  5. Someone asked what his favorite pumpkin was that he’d ever carved and he said he loved carving regular faces and he carved this one that was like a sleepy tired guy leaning against another pumpkin and that his young son said that was his favorite pumpkin ever and RV said “So, of course, it became my favorite, too” Awwww.
  6. Someone asked what he uses to preserve the sculpture. He said nothing. That as soon as it was picked from the vine a pumpkin starts rotting; that this is very much a temporary art form. He also said that in just a few shorts days we will already start seeing the effects of the decay. That the only way to preserve it is with a camera.

And with that, I leave you with some of favorite before and after shots.







Until next year.  :)

No comments:

Post a Comment