Reynoldsburg expert offers master classes


For most of us, the time to pumpkin carving is still a few weeks in the future.

For professional pumpkin carvers, the season is already well underway.

A group of seven pumpkin enthusiasts gathered at an open garage in a Reynoldsburg neighborhood on the afternoon of September 4, for an advanced workshop in carving pumpkin faces, under the direction of master sculptor Deane Arnold.

Arnold barely had the pumpkins he needed for intricate carvings.

Sculpture guru Deane Arnold pulls a playful face during a recent workshop at his home.

“Earlier this week I bought some crappy pumpkins from a farmers market, but I didn’t have any good ones,” he said.

He called one of his regular sources, and even though they weren’t open to the public yet, they left him at the edges of one of their patches.

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“They said, just go along the edges and don’t damage the vines. I had the best pumpkins I’ve ever had,” he said.

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The pumpkins Arnold got are of the “wolf pumpkin” variety, which are round, bright orange, and thick.

The type of carving he teaches requires a thick pumpkin – and some finesse.

“Part of my job as a teacher is to slow them down,” Arnold said. “Keep them out of their comfort zone.

For this workshop, the students were all assigned the same face to sculpt, working as realistically as possible.

“Each year, in addition to the public courses for beginners, I always try to do some small informal advanced courses, where intermediate to advanced people can work without having to start from scratch. This time we’re working on facial anatomy,” Arnold said.

Six of the seven contestants either appeared as pumpkin performers on “Outrageous Pumpkins“or the network”Halloween Warsor are about to do so this year.

Newark's Titus Arensberg competed last year in

Arnold, 60, knows a thing or two about pumpkin carving. He was part of a team that also included Michael Brown of Missouri and Brandy Davis of Idaho, who in 2018 earned bragging rights as the tallest jack-o’-lantern ever recorded by Guinness World Records. He’s also appeared on “Halloween Wars” and works behind the scenes on “Outrageous Pumpkins,” and has taught or worked with most of the class attendees in the past.

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These carvers, unlike those in Arnold’s Beginner’s Course, all provide their own tools and worked diligently and patiently with them, throwing jokes and questions on the table and building piles of tiny pieces of skin and flesh from pumpkin as they worked and reworked their pumpkin faces.

Arnold moved around the garage, stopping to consult and offer advice to each of the carvers, or giving a demonstration on his own pumpkin.

Among the sculptors in the workshop were Titus Arensberg, 40, from Newark, who appeared on last year’s edition of “Outrageous Pumpkins.” Arensberg reached the final last year but lost to Oregon carver Ryan Anderson.

“It’s my first pumpkin of the year,” Arensberg said. “I’m happy to get back to carving. I was glad Deane invited me to the workshop – it’s a good excuse to hang out with all these guys. Arensberg is not participating in any TV shows this year.

William Wilson, 47, of Cincinnati, also appears in last year’s “Outrageous Pumpkins” and is also set to appear in this year’s “Halloween Wars.”

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“I love being able to talk about pumpkins with other people who love carving,” Wilson said. “And I want to improve my realism.”

Being on the show, he said, expanded his line of pumpkin carvings.

Deane Arnold, right, demonstrates a sculpting technique for Anthony Pater.

“I work on the armature, I put arms and things on my sculptures, and I work on elaborate scenes. Being on the show made me do that. I thought, if I can do something in six hours, then I can do it really well if I have more time.

Lincoln Bias, 60, will appear in “Outrageous Pumpkins” this year and traveled from his home in Rockford, Illinois to attend the workshop with Arnold. He began working with intricately carved and detailed fruits and vegetables, and added pumpkins to his repertoire five years ago.

“I’ve watched Deane’s work since I started, and I’ve always wanted to work with him. His work is neat and smooth and not messy,” Bias said.

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A relative newcomer to the world of pumpkin carving is Anthony Pater, 20, a student at Edinboro University in Edinboro, Pennsylvania. Pater will also appear in “Halloween Wars” this fall. He has been seriously carving pumpkins for two years.

“I’m a student by day and a pumpkin carver by night,” he joked. “I like to put my pumpkins on campus late at night. I’ve only had one broken so far.

Anthony Pater works with a scraping tool to create detail on a pumpkin.

Pater is an art major, with a concentration in animation.

“I think working with animation helps the exaggerated expressions on the pumpkins,” he said.

Those inspired to create their own pumpkin creations in central Ohio this year should be encouraged by the quality of pumpkins available to those who grow or seek out the fruit.

“It’s been a good year for pumpkins because there was rain at the start of the season, followed by warm weather,” Arnold said. “That means the pumpkins grow inward. They get thick rather than chunky, making them great for carving.

In one look

Season 12 of “Halloween Wars” premieres Sunday on Food Network and Discovery+. Season 3 of “Outrageous Pumpkins” premieres on Food Network and Discovery+ on September 30.

Tips for Carving Pumpkins

Deane Arnold offers these suggestions for successful pumpkin carving:

  1. Do not use knives.
  2. Use a thick-walled pumpkin. It’s best when it’s heavy for its size: if you have two identical pumpkins, you have to carve the heavier one.
  3. Trim on either side of the flat area, as the walls tend to be the thickest there.
  4. Shave dark skin just enough to expose more yellow pumpkin flesh. The outer flesh is best for carving. As you go deeper, you will feel more squishy. No one likes whittling a kitchen sponge!
  5. Use loop tools. These are sometimes called “ribbon loops”. Many art supply stores carry them. I offer a basic starter kit for beginners on
  6. Just start. An emoji face is a great starting point. Two eyes and one mouth!
  7. Try not to dig too hard with your tool. You will have more success if you scrape and shave the flesh.
  8. The larger loop tool is the best for most of your sculpting. Medium sized tools are good for small details. The small tool with the aluminum handle is only for final surface detailing (it will break if you use it to hollow or shape).
  9. Use a spray bottle to spray your sculpture with water as you work. Not too much, just keep it hydrated.
  10. Do not be shy ! Going deep! If you start with the eyes, you will find that the tear duct areas are usually the deepest part of the face. If you think you are about to enter the seed cavity, stop digging; now you know how deep you can go anywhere else!
  11. Remember it’s for fun! If you break into the seed cavity, that’s okay. Integrate it into your design! But if you feel like your carving isn’t going where you want it to, just spin your pumpkin around and carve another face out of the back!
  12. Be patient and enjoy what you are doing: don’t rush to the end! I can carve a pumpkin pretty quickly, but I love the process. So I take my time. Mine take an average of eight hours, but occasionally I’ve carved pumpkins that took over two days.

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