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Carving Out the Magic | From Food Network to the White House | ICONIC LIFE

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Carving Out the Magic | From Food Network to the White House

Ray Villafane pumpkin carver hero photo

Villafane Studios

Meet master pumpkin carver and storyteller Ray Villafane.

From pumpkins and trees, to stones and everything in between, storyteller Ray Villafane has the ability to transform ordinary things into something extraordinary. His detailed sculptures bring to life crazy characters that tell a story and bring magic into a room. 

Villafane started his pumpkin carving career as a school art teacher, a student of his gave him a pumpkin to carve. Using clay sculpting tools, Villafane successfully carved a face into the pumpkin and discovered a love for the process and craft. 

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“I really enjoyed what I had stumbled upon,” Villafane says. “The community liked it, and other students liked it, so it became a thing that I did for several years.”

In 2006, Villafane decided to hone in on his sculpting skills through the toy industry. He began to work for major companies such as Marvel and Warner Brothers. He juggled teaching with commercial sculpting and, after two years, quit his teaching job to take on sculpting full-time. 

pumpkin Carver Ray Villafanes pumpkin

After uploading a YouTube pumpkin carving tutorial to his website, it went viral. The demand for Villafane’s pumpkin carving skills skyrocketed. Companies from around the world requested his skills as a pumpkin carver. In 2010, Villafane walked away from commercial sculpting to do what he did best, pumpkins. 

“It was easy for me to walk away from commercial sculpting so I could pursue art that was more authentic to myself,” Villafane explains.

Villafane competed in and won several pumpkin carving competitions from the Food Network, carved pumpkins for the White House and completed major sculptures for Heidi Klum’s ICONIC Halloween party. 

As pumpkin carving grew in popularity, Villafane realized his passion came from the magic of storytelling and bringing mundane objects to life to create characters. He is currently working on an exhibition with Vulture City Ghost Town in Arizona. 

“I love finding and realizing the magic that is around the world,” Villafane says.

His latest exhibition is all about mining magic. A concept that illustrates a place where dreams and aspirations reside. It follows two mystical creatures, Gordy Gooligan, a character that represents blind optimism and hope for dreams, and Grimgor, a character who represents doubts and reservations people have when they think about a dream of theirs. “Grimgor and Gordy are the optimists and pessimists that live in all of us,” Villafane says.

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Villafane is planning to unveil this exhibition at Vulture City Ghost Town, Arizona later this month. Villlafane’s passion for showcasing his creations to bring magic and inspiration in the lives of others shines through in his extraordinary sculptures. 

The ICONIC LIFE team had the opportunity to carve pumpkins with the guidance of master carver Villafane. While the results of our pumpkins can’t hold a candle to the spectacular work Villafane produces, we were pretty impressed with ourselves. 

ICONIC team carving pumpkins
Publisher Renee Dee carving a pumpkin
pumpking carving event, ICONIC team

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