Artistic spirit expressed in pumpkin carving
Posted: Friday, October 31, 2008 9:48 pm
By JOHN BRANNON
Messenger Staff Reporter
Among Barbara Quinton’s prized possessions are three knives. Check that. Not just any knives, but “three wonderful knives.”
She carves pumpkins. Lots of pumpkins. Thirty-three last year. Probably just as many this year. Hence, a good knife is a basic necessity. (See related photo, Page 2.)
She finds them in carving kits available on the retail market.
“I have little saw blades and big saw blades. For the more delicate work, you have to use a real small blade,” she said.
From her husband David’s five-acre pumpkin patch come pumpkins large and small in several varieties, from the three-inch Jack-Be-Littles to the monster Big Macs.
“Every Halloween, I would go out and buy them,” she said. “One year, David (her husband) decided to keep the seeds. He started growing them, growing different types. Then we had all we needed.
“Every year we’d go to the pumpkin patch and I’d help him harvest them. It’s really exciting.
Every year, there’s something different. It never loses its appeal, this going to the pumpkin patch.”
From her creative mind and skilled hands comes the transformation from plain pumpkins to Jack-O-Lanterns with a variety of zany eyes and teeth and such. And in hours of darkness, when illumined by candlelight inside, her pumpkins declare Halloween with an artistic flair.
“I’ve been carving pumpkins since I was a young woman,” she said. “When I first started, I was such a perfectionist. It just had to be perfect. But I found they don’t have to be perfect, they just have to look good. When you put the light in them and they glow, they’re just gorgeous.”
She characterized herself as a decorator. Hence, Halloween is an opportunity for her to apply her native skills and produce decorative objects for the enjoyment of the family as well as the community.
“I’ve always been kind of artistic. Even when I was in school, I did all the artwork there,” she said. “When you are artistic, it’s hard for people to understand how you feel inside. I think it’s a God-given gift, something the Lord blessed me with, and I am very thankful for it.
“People will come by and say, ‘I try to do that, but I just can’t.’ I tell them to keep at it. I think, though, when you have an artistic touch, it’s easy.”
And she characterized what she does as “Fun,” with a capital “F.”
“It is fun!” she said. “Anybody who would sit on a hillside three days and carve pumpkins has to enjoy it. I start early morning and I carve all day. I’ll probably be finished about 4 o’clock (today). You have to be really careful. It’s very tedious work. It’s easy to make a mistake.”
A registered nurse, she works two days a week at Jackson-Madison County General Hospital. She and David have been married 44 years.
Come Sunday, all the ghosts and goblins of Halloween 2008 will have done their mischief and be off to parts unknown. What will become of the jack-o-laterns left behind?
“We’ll throw them away. We won’t feed them to the cows because candles will have burned in them for three nights,” Mrs. Quinton said. “But we still have plenty for the cows.”
Feeding pumpkins to cows? Yes, sir, says David.
“My cows love them. It really surprised me,” he said. “I’ve spoiled them with pumpkins. They like the good stuff.”
He said he plants pumpkins about mid-May but may shift the schedule to late May. “You don’t really know about pumpkins,” he said. “Some years they get ready (mature) early, some years late. They do their own thing. It depends on the weather, too.”
Mrs. Quinton said that after this weekend she has to turn her attention to getting ready for Christmas. The truth is, she’s halfway there. She and David have a Christmas tree and lesser decorations in their house — a North Pole scene, Santa and his helpers and more.
“Probably, the first of next week, I’ll start decorating the tree,” she said.
But wait. What about Thanksgiving?
“We usually have Thanksgiving dinner on the Sunday before Thanksgiving,” she said. “I’ll put a few decorations on the table — a little set of pilgrims and some turkeys.
“But mainly I move right from Halloween into Christmas.”