Let me ask you — boys and girls of every age, wouldn’t you like to see something strange? Well, it’s that time of the year again, and by that I mean Halloween. The never ending hot summer days are finally coming to an end. Fall is finally upon us and Halloween’s just a month away, so it’s time to get into the spirit of things. To all you fellow fans of this spooky holiday, I give you Ian Fetterman, a professional jack-o-lantern carver.
Fetterman grew up about half an hour from Muhlenberg in Easton, PA, as a Halloween fanatic, carving pumpkins whenever he could, and, after switching over to synthetic foam pumpkins so they wouldn’t rot, he started receiving orders for his work from all around, eventually becoming a professional pumpkin carver. This brings us to Jack-O-Lantern Lane, an exhibit at the Da Vinci Science Center located next to Cedar Crest College, that shows off about fifty or so of Fetterman’s diverse jack-o-lantern creations.
Jack-O-Lantern Lane offers a massive range of carvings, varying from general Halloween themes and cultural icons to carvings of scientific discoveries and even portraits of scientists themselves. Some of my favorite classic Halloween carvings feature an eerily dark pumpkin with a black cat’s face in front of a full moon and a meta-carving of the well known jack-o-lantern face complete with its own candlestick visible through its mouth, all carved onto the face of pumpkin.
The cultural works range all the way from Harry Potter to first generation Pokemon, “Star Trek” characters, a Minecraft creeper, and even Ms. Frizzle from “The Magic School Bus.” To all you science majors out there, there’s plenty of pumpkins you’ll all get a kick out of. Chemistry majors might enjoy checking out a periodic table jack-o-lantern for the element hydrogen. The biology majors can find works like the March of Progress carved into a pumpkin. There’s even stuff for you physics majors out there like a jack-o-lantern of Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man transposed on top of Neil Bohr’s classic model of the atom.
Jack-O-Lantern Lane isn’t just about moving from one piece of art to the next down the line; it’s also filled with many unique science-inspired attractions to keep everyone from the youngest of kids to the oldest of college professors entertained.
The guide at the exhibit spoke about the main theme and core concepts that are in this year’s Jack-O-Lantern Lane. “The theme this year is energy,” she said, pointing out different stations around the exhibit, “so everything is related to energy. Like light energy. Here we talk about thermal cameras for thermal energy. Electricity is a type of energy. We have gears to kinda show motion and energy and how they correspond. Sound funnels for sound is also energy, vibrations and things like that… and then we have a large Newton’s cradle over there too.”
To explain some of the stations she mentioned: the light energy is represented by the miniature face of a house and some miniature pumpkins, where, depending on which of the window sills you placed the pumpkins, all the windows in the house would light up different colors. Some of the jack-o-lanterns were lit up by special heat lights so that their designs would show up on an infrared camera.
Lastly, to all you pumpkin purists out there, don’t discredit these jack-o-lanterns just be- cause they’re made from fake pumpkins. While synthetic pumpkins do break away from the tradition of lighting up your porch with scary looking gourds for one night, or more like a couple weeks, out of the year, they have many advantages when it comes to making a professional artwork out of jack-o-lanterns.
Besides scooping out the guts of the pumpkin, the actual process of carving a synthetic pumpkin is about as difficult as carving a regular pumpkin just with a Dremel knife instead of an X-acto knife. If anything, carving a synthetic pumpkin is even messier than carving a natural one because of all the dust that gets created and blown around from the spinning Dremel blade, a factor you wouldn’t need to worry about with a regular knife blade.
Some of the benefits of using a pumpkin replacement are, of course, the longevity of the jack-o-lanterns, as the synthetic pumpkin won’t ever rot. There are also more artistic uses for the face of a synthetic pumpkin, such as the easy application of paint, giving rise to creations like the camouflaged Minecraft creeper face and the black cat against the moon jack-o-lantern.
Natural or not, I think it’s safe to say that our man Fetterman is King of the Pumpkin patch. Everyone hail to the Pumpkin King!
Jack-O-Lantern Lane will be haunting the Da Vinci Science Center off of Hamilton Boulevard Bypass until the first week of November. General admission to the center and all of their exhibits, including Jack-O-Lantern Lane, costs about $13. Happy Halloween (in, like, a month).