By Shannon Lane @shannonroselane
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From Donald Trumpkin to Jack (Nicholson)-o-Lantern, pumpkin carver Simon McMinnis is changing pumpkin carving as we know it.
Based in Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire, Simon discovered his pumpkin talents as a child, when his granddad taught him how to grow giant pumpkins.
The seasonal pumpkin carver said: “Each year we would try and grow larger than last. The largest being 765lbs (54.5 stone) and 4.5ft wide – too wide for the side gate of the house, so a local farmer had to hoist the pumpkin over the garage.
“It seemed a waste just letting the pumpkins rot away to nothing without doing something with them”
After taking A Level Art, Simon decided to enter carving competitions, whilst growing his own medium to work with.
The 33-year-old now collects his pumpkins from local grower, Mark O’Hanlon, who specialises in the giant fruit. Simon then begins his masterpieces.
He said: “I first decide which face of the pumpkin will be best for the design and then start by scraping away the rind. Roughly mark out prominent features and remove the bulk flesh.
"Gradually, I work deeper and deeper, taking care not to breach the cavity inside at the pink points, particularly around the eyes, mouth and nose.
“I work down in the size of sculpting tools until I finish off with the detail with a fruit knife.”
Most of Simon’s pumpkin sculptures are realistic characters and faces - including Hilary Clinton, Alan Sugar and Venom - sometimes taking over eight hours to complete.
He said: “What interests me is the ‘challenge’ to incorporate complex designs into the shape of the pumpkin.”
The pumpkin enthusiast has three main tips for amateur carvers.
He said: “To have the best chance you need to have a good starting point, and that is to choose the best shaped pumpkin for the design you have in mind. Typically you don’t want light, flat faced
or squat pumpkins as those tend to limit the chances of a good carve.”
Next, plan ahead. Have the design in mind of where features will go. You don’t want to remove something you need.
“And my last tip; lots of practice. You will make mistakes but you will learn from it, and use that to improve the next one.”