Decorating

Ghoulishly grand carved pumpkins

Take a gander at Villafane Studios' scary sculptures for the Halloween season.

 / Updated 52 PHOTOS

Artist in action

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.

  • Share

Watch out!

Villifane and his team spent two days whittling and shaping an army of living dead from some of the area’s biggest Halloween gourds.

Marc Evan
  • Share

Gizmo

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.

  • Share

Spooky skeleton

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.

  • Share

Held up at knifepoint

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.

  • Share

Hold your breath

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.

  • Share

Sherlock Holmes

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.

  • Share

Three-eyed monster

This ugly three-eyed monster is terrifying.

  • Share

Elephant

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.

  • Share

Owl

Individual feathers make this owl carving distinct and complex.

  • Share

Balance act

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.

  • Share

The eyes have it

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.

  • Share

Zen pumpkin

If your body remains still, then your mind will follow.

  • Share

Feed me!

This display of a plant-like creature with sharp teeth was created in October 2013 for a display at the New York Botanical Garden.

  • Share

Joker clown with cigar

This Joker clown with a cigar and evil smile is sure to be a menace on any house porch.

  • Share

Pumpkin of the apes

That's one angry ape.

  • Share

Toothless terror

Silly, sleepy character.

  • Share

Pumpkin reaper

Ahhhhhhhhh!

  • Share

Aged ape

'Planet of the Apes' will never look the same.

  • Share

Gone pig wild

Villafane crafted this pumpkin of a deranged pig for his family in 2011, according to his Facebook page.

  • Share

Feeling the squeeze

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.

  • Share

What an adorable little girl

"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."

  • Share

A Viking’s life for me

Ray Villafane's signature Halloween pumpkins are known for their lifelike subjects.

  • Share

Lean on me

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.

  • Share

It’s a werewolf!

Villafane advises would-be carvers to steer clear of perfectly round pumpkins. His favorite carving pumpkins have an oblong shape.

  • Share

Knockout!

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.”

  • Share

Torment

We’d rather not ask what this poor fellow did to get himself this distressed.

  • Share

Glutton

Maybe this carving could inspire kids to cool it a bit with the Halloween candy?

  • Share

Grumpy Gus

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."

  • Share

Headache

This guy might just need to take two aspirin and call us in the morning.

  • Share

Child’s play

Awwwww. Remember Chucky?

  • Share

Spooky

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.

  • Share

Native American chief

Villafane said an oblong-shaped pumpkin is best for carvers who want to create realistic-looking faces.

  • Share

Misfit

Because everybody feels a little bit out of place at times.

  • Share

Burp

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.

  • Share

Got my eye on you

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.”

  • Share

Who let me outta here?

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.

  • Share

Would you open this zipper?

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.

  • Share

President Barack Obama

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.

  • Share

More than pumpkins

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.

  • Share

Wowing TV viewers

Villafane has trounced competing carvers on television on “Food Network Challenge: Outrageous Pumpkins” more than once.

  • Share

It’s a good thing

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.

  • Share

Busy month

Villafane also did some serious pumpkin carving at Sousa’s Gardens in Bermuda and at the New York Botanical Garden.

  • Share

Predator pumpkin

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.

  • Share

Motorized Medusa

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.

  • Share

Native American portrait

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.

  • Share

David Letterman

Villafane said his carving prompted an invitation to carve on the "Late Show with David Letterman."

  • Share

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?

Or, wait ... maybe this guy's from Dr. Seuss ...

  • Share

Brainiac

Are you lookin' at me?

  • Share

Foods with moods

Is he happy or angry – or both?

  • Share

Biting his tongue

That's right, buddy. Fight the urge to say something you might regret.

  • Share

The fear inside

To learn more about Villafane Studios work with pumpkins, wax and sand, visit http://villafanestudios.com/

  • Share
1/52