Carving that perfect Halloween jack-o'-lantern or 3D pumpkin can be a spooky task.
We decided to enlist the help of a master to give us the scoop.
To call Clive Cooper an extreme pumpkin carver would be an understatement.
The self-taught sculptor has been practicing with pumpkins for over 25 years and became an accomplished 3D carver over the last decade, when the artistic style began exploding in popularity.
But it's not just pumpkins; he also carves squashes, watermelons (which are significantly more popular outside North America) and even the odd strawberry.
Cooper's fantastical forms have been used for film promotions, television commercials, and local events. The artist has also donated over $3,000 to charities through his auctioned pumpkins.
So, what exactly is 3D carving?
"The difference between 3D carving and jack-o'-lanterns is jack-o'-lanterns, you're actually going through, you're cutting away, cutting out pieces so light can penetrate through. With 3D, you're avoiding at all costs trying to go through the pumpkin," explains Cooper.
Selection is everything when it comes to carving that perfect 3D design.
"Regular jack-o'-lanterns, any pumpkin will do. But for 3D carving, you want the walls as thick as possible so you can get the depth to get the effect that you want. So you look for pumpkins with a really thick stem," he says.
A variety of pumpkin sizes and shapes can open up your design possibilities. Although beginners may not get the results of a seasoned pro, there are several tips to elevate your gourd game.
"Most 3D carvers use what we call ribbon tools and you can buy these at any art supply store, and a good knife of course," says Cooper.
He adds a regular vegetable peeler or melon baller work well too.
If you're getting creative with extra pieces for horns or other appendages, Cooper recommends a strong adhesive, like Gorilla Glue, to attach your pumpkin parts.
The master carver's best advice is to not get discouraged if your initial vision isn't working out. Many designs can be altered or changed completely in the middle of the carving process.
"I still have many failures; not every pumpkin I do is a complete success," he remarks.
Cooper remains happy practicing his pumpkin passion.
"It fascinates me and I don't see why it wouldn't fascinate other people; that you can actually take a fruit and a vegetable and sculpt it like marble or wood. It's always fun to come up with the most novel thing you can think of."