Some artists carve stone, and others wood. Adam Smith likes to carve pumpkins.
The largest pumpkin he's carved so far weighed 50 pounds, but this weekend he's putting his skills to the test with a 483-pound giant.
Smith is carving the giant pumpkin in the lobby of Ogden's Union Station. He'll start the preparations after 5 p.m. today and do the intricate design work on Saturday.
"I'm guessing it's going to take 12 to 15 hours," said the Roy man. 'I've never carved a big one before, so I'm planning on bringing a really big knife to get through that thick skin."
He also suspects he'll need a shovel to clean out the insides and thin the walls. Other than that, he'll use the same pumpkin carving tools anyone else might -- a paring knife and the little carving kits sold at stores.
'Doh!' to pro
Smith started down the path to becoming a pumpkin artist in 2007.
"I really wanted to do a cool pumpkin carving, but I'd never done one before, so I started messing around in my kitchen," he said.
The result was a likeness of cartoon character Homer Simpson.
"I just really liked it, but it was the only one I did that year," he said.
The next Halloween, Smith carved a more complicated design, with more details.
"After that, I started thinking about how I could make a little money with this," he said. "I went to businesses and asked if I could carve for them."
He wound up carving logos and related designs to decorate several local offices. Some of the pumpkins were carved at home, others at the business for the entertainment of customers.
Smith recently carved a white pumpkin for a wedding, but he's not limited to creating pumpkin art for fall events -- he'll carve names, designs and images into watermelons for parties.
The price varies, depending on how long Smith thinks the job will take.
A light touch
Smith says he isn't much of a three-dimensional carver.
"What I like to do is make lanterns," he said.
The image is created on the surface of the pumpkin without cutting completely through, and the inside wall of the pumpkin is thinned enough to allow light to illuminate the picture.
Tiny details are important in the overall design, Smith says. Sometimes he leaves little slivers of the pumpkin skin, while shaving down other parts to create different effects.
"I'm kind of a perfectionist when it comes to that," he said.
When his work is done, Smith wants the pumpkin to last.
"If, where you cut, you put some Vaseline, it lasts about four times longer," he said. Refrigerating the pumpkin when not lit also adds to its life span.
Just for fun
Pumpkins with pictures of Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison are among Smith's favorite creations. He also enjoys carving images from his childhood, such as "Calvin and Hobbs" cartoons, pictures of Chuck Norris, and characters from the book "Where the Wild Things Are."
"If you have an idea, you can put it on a pumpkin," he said. "Don't be afraid of making it too hard -- just know it's going to take a long time."
Last year, Smith spent about 12 hours turning a pumpkin into a "Star Wars" Death Star.
"I wanted to do something to outdo that," he said.
So this year he decided to carve a giant pumpkin, just for fun, at Union Station.
The first challenge was getting the pumpkin. He went to the Utah Giant Pumpkin Growers weigh-off at Thanksgiving Point, where he met Travis Allen of West Valley City.
"He was the first person I talked to, and he was totally on board, so he donated it," said Smith.
A regular candle probably won't light up a pumpkin this size, so Smith says he'll use a light bulb.
With those details taken care of, Smith can concentrate on the artwork.
"Other than junior high and high school art class, I never really did any art training," he said. "I just always liked to draw."
Unless he changes his mind, Smith will be testing his skills. He wants to re-create a very recognizable piece of art !-- something that probably hasn't been seen on a pumpkin before.
His goal? "The Last Supper" by Leonardo da Vinci.