Kenai sculptor carves up 319-pound pumpkin

Posted: Sunday, November 01, 2009

KENAI - If Charlie Brown's pal Linus is looking for the great pumpkin, he should try the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center.

Joseph Robertia / Peninsula Clarion
Joseph Robertia / Peninsula Clarion

A donated 319-pound pumpkin was turned into a giant gourd sculpture by Joy Falls, a sculpture, ceramics and 3-D art instructor from Kenai Peninsula College.

"When they asked me, I jumped at the chance," Falls said.

The big jack-o-lantern has two faces and will be lit from inside.

The pumpkin came from J.D. Megchelsen of Nikiski, someone familiar with large fruit. In 2006, he crushed the Alaska record for the largest pumpkin with a 1,019-pounder.

"This is the second year he has brought one over for us, and this one has already been to the state fair, so it's well traveled," said Laura Forbes, director of programs and exhibits at the Kenai center.

Falls first surveyed the pumpkin while it was still at Megchelsen's patch so she could start formulating ideas for how to best approach the project.

Carving was a challenge.

"The walls were 4 inches thick in some places, so I had to use a pruning saw to cut through the top of it," she said.

Reaching deep into the pumpkin to scoop out the fleshy innards and seeds was another hurdle, and carving required more than a paring knife.

"I brought a bunch of ceramic and wood carving tools to work on it," she said.

Whittling away at the pumpkin's wet flesh was quite a bit different from the media she usually works with.

"It's not as forgiving as modeling with clay where you can add back to it," she said. "With this, once something is removed, it's off permanently."

Many giant pumpkins look like half-deflated balloons as they succumb to their own weight during growth. The 319-pounder still looked round and normal, she said.

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