Turbo Schmitt was dismayed to find his pumpkins frozen the morning of Oct. 31, but nevertheless, he managed to transform all 48 of them into glowing jack-o'-lanterns by the time trick-or-treaters began to trot up to his Sunnyside Avenue home.
He does this every Halloween Day. Why? Well, why not?
"They ward off bad spirits," he said. "The Irish were the first to carve images in turnips and rutabagas and light them with candles to display in their windows for that very reason."
His pyramid of pumpkins is nothing short of an art installation. The overall impression is akin to ’90s-era TVs stacked one on top of the other with flickering screens bearing varied images.
Schmitt has been doing this since 2003, and has, by now, perfected the art of the jack-o'-lantern quick draw.
He carved 11 faces in the classic image of a horrified and toothy grimace in the span of one hour.
Other pumpkins pay homage to sincere and heart-felt imagery popular year-round in today’s society, such as his tribute to nurses that spells "I HEART RN’S" and features the Christian cross inlaid over the shape of a heart.
In that same vein, he dedicated another pumpkin to the symbol of a heart laid upon a heartbeat that zig-zagged from left to right and was emphasized with a pulsing red LED light that beat from within.
"If you can think of it, you can do it," Schmitt said.
Like any artist would, he gathers inspiration from the good, the bad and the ugly in life.
"Zena," the name of his late German shepherd, always finds a place in the pumpkin pyramid. As does a certain wolf in the act of howling at the moon.
The silhouette of a lovely woman is juxtaposed between a pumpkin bearing the phrase "DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT," and "ICE COLD BEER."
As for a pair of pumpkins emblazoned with wicked witches, he warns, "If somebody crosses me, they’ll get their likeness on a pumpkin."
His advice for those who want to be as prolific a pumpkin-carver as he?
"They don’t have to be perfect," Schmitt said. "Stay with what you know and use a design you like using either a stencil or freehand. Trace it a couple times to improve the spacing of your letters."
Schmitt recommends using a transfer wheel to etch the image squarely on the flattest side of the pumpkin. "If it’s not smooth or flat enough you can lose your place easily," he said.
As for productivity, he said momentum is key.
"If you take too much time, you’ll never get done," he said. "It’s hard to keep going once you lose your speed. Then again, if you go too fast you’ll get sloppy. "
Factor in time-killers like frozen produce.
"I waited hours for them to thaw out (Halloween morning), even after I carried some inside where it was warmer," he said. "When you get pumpkins that are that cold it takes a long time to carve them."
He filled three coolers with 48 pumpkins’ worth of pulp and seeds, which he donates to farmers with chickens and pigs to feed, as well as a baker friend who promised him at least two pumpkin pies in return.
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