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Pat’s Passion for Pumpkin Carving Spreads Joy at Children’s Hospital

Prized Possessions Stolen – Pumpkin Carving Tools

Pat-obrien-3d-pumpkin-carving Note: After posting the article, it was brought to my attention that I’ve confused two different carving customers in this story. As it turns out, I have two different Patrick O’Briens who are customers of mine who love pumpkin carving.  I’ve received emails from both, I unknowingly thought they were the same person. Oops. The photos and progress in this article are all from the same Pat O’Brien. I’ll call him Pat O’Brien (1). The stories about the stolen tools and the hospital are a different Pat O’Brien, I’ll call him Pat OBrian (2). 

A student/customer of mine, Pat O’Brien (2) called me to replace his tools and DVD because his pumpkin carving tools and DVD had been stolen. Pat (2)is passionate about carving and likes to carve during his “downtime” in his hotel room when traveling. During one of his trips his bag was stolen. He told me that he could hardly believe that the first thing that sprang to mind about his bag being stolen was that they got his pumpkin carving tools! The second thought was they stole his pumpkin carving DVD. Only after that did he realize that they also got his social security card, his expensive and favorite boots and other stuff. We chuckled over his immediate reaction. In our conversation he told me how excited he is about carving pumpkins and how rewarding he finds it. He finds it surprising how much he enjoys it. He said to me, “I’m too old to be this excited about something like this”. Later in the conversation he said that he can’t believe it…that he has a college education but he so excited about the prospect of carving this Halloween.

Recent 3D Pumpkin Carving by Pat O'Brien

Recent 3D Pumpkin Carving by Pat O’Brien (1)

Prior to discovering 3D pumpkin carving on my website last year, Pat (2)had carved variations of Jack O’Lantern pumpkins for many years with his niece and nephew, who thought he was really cool. In spite of the fact that his niece and nephew are in their mid teens now, and Uncle Pat seems not as cool anymore, Pat is having more fun than ever carving pumpkins.


Pumpkin Carving by Pat O’Brien (1) carving 10 months ago.


Pat O'Brien's pumpkin carving

One of Pat’s (1) more recent pumpkin carvings. Notice the improvement in the carving of the teeth. They’re really clean looking now.

The Simple Joy of Carving

3D watermelon carving

Pat (1) started applying his 3D face carving skills to carving watermelons

When fall pumpkins were no longer available last year, Pat (2) discovered that the butternut squash are great for practicing his carving. Then he got my watermelon carving DVD lessons and started learning to carve watermelons. Now, he’s thrilled with how his carving has improved. Pat seemed almost embarrassed about his enthusiasm for carving. He has so much fun with it that he jokingly asked me “Do you put crack in this stuff or what?” Pat (2) once sent me an email telling me how he finds himself carving “deep into the night by reading light and TV glow and finds it “just blissful”. About the fun he’s having he later he said to me “Well, I guess we have to grow older but we don’t have to grow up”. I agree! Pat (2) told me that he never really thought of himself as a sculptor. That thought that only people with “real talent” could do sculpting and carving. Now Pat modestly tried to tell me that he not that talented. He jokingly said that he hoped that others don’t realize how easy pumpkin and watermelon carving is because then, people might not be as amazed with his carvings. But then he added that he actually hopes more people discover the joy of fruit carving.

silver medal pumpkin Carving arrangement

Pat’s (1) 3D pumpkin carving arrangement that won a silver medal at a recent competition.

I “get” what he is saying because most people think vegetable and fruit carving is difficult. My experience with people learning to carve is that almost always find it easier than expect it to be, once they are shown how. AND, in the process of learning, people discover the talents that they did not know they have. And that is exciting and rewarding.

Pat’s (2) Anonymous Pumpkin Carving Making Others Happy

One really generous and entertaining thing that Pat has done with his pumpkin carvings is to visit the pediatric ward of his local hospital. He carries in his carved pumpkins concealed in paper sacks. When no one is looking, he leaves them in places where people can enjoy seeing them. No one at the hospital knows the source of the amazing carved squash and pumpkins that appear in the pediatric ward.

Pat O'Brien with his silver and gold medals

Here is Pat (1) with his silver and gold medals, from an annual AFC competition. See Pat’s Gold medal winning carved fruit arrangement at the bottom of this page.

On at least one occasion, Pat (2) has gone back into the hospital to find people standing around admiring the pumpkin carvings and saying, “We don’t know who leaves them here, they just appear.” Well, I guess I’ve let the cat out of the bag by telling his story here. But I find it so charming and sweet that he spreads the joy anonymously. One more thing that Pat (1) told me really made me feel great. He thanked me for having a part in changing his life in this way. I can’t take all that credit but it does make me feel good to have opened a door that led to a satisfying (and profitable) avocation for which he discovered a passion.

Pat's 3D watermelon sculpture

Pat (1) applies his 3D carving skills to carving this 3 dimensional bear from watermelon

I understand Pat’s (2) enthusiasm because I, too, find fruit and vegetable carving fun and rewarding and I get a big kick out of other people enjoying a seeing my carvings. Since I’ve begun offering lessons, it’s personally rewarding for me to hear the happiness and joy that my student/customers experience from carving and the pleasure they get from sharing their carvings with others. I like to think that in my own small way I’m spreading a little happiness in the world through teaching and sharing the art of fruit and vegetable carving.

Pat’s (2) Pumpkin Carving Hobby Produces Income

When Pat started carving 3D pumpkins, he never dreamed that people would be excited to buy them from him. After watching Ray Villafane’s pumpkin carving DVD that I offer on my website, he started enthusiastically carving lots of 3D pumpkin. About 50 his first year year. He got lots of raves and attention and people started asking him about providing pumpkin carvings for them. This year, Pat (2) is so excited because he expects to carve about 150 pumpkins. And he’ll be paid for quite a few. He’s got orders and requests from a number of local hotels and sports bars.

rose carved watermelon

One of Pat’s  (1)watermelon carvings with Roses after learning from my Watermelon Carving Roses Buds and Leaves Lessons

Keep up the Good Pumpkin Carving Work, Pat

A big thank you to Pat O’Brien (2) for sharing his happy pumpkin carving story with me, and for allowing me to share it with you. I hope it inspires you to have a little fun, pursue what you find rewarding and maybe even to do a little secret sharing of your carvings to make others smile.

Thank you to both Patrick O’Briens, one for the story and the other for the photos. Happy Pumpkin Carving.

Pat's first melon carvings

Here is Pat’s (1) first attempt and carving melons. this was just 12 months prior to Pat’s Gold medal win for the carving arrangement in the photo below.

P.S. Pat’s (both 1 and 2) introduction to 3D carving started with the Ray Villafane 3D Pumpkin Carving Tutorial that Pat ordered from my shop. Later a friend ordered my Vegetable and Fruit Carving 101 Course for Beginners as a gift for Pat (1). Since then, Pat(1) has grown to be an excellent carver winning gold medals at competitions and carving for televised events. Pat’s pumpkin carving and fruit carving has blossomed into a profession. Ok, now that I mentioned Pat’s (1) progress since beginning to carve, let me show you. Take a look at Pat’s (1) first attempt at carving melons 1 year ago compared to his recent melons carvings that won a gold medal. Amazing progress isn’t it?

Pat's gold medal winning fruit carving arrangement

This is how Pat (1) carves only 1 year after his first melon carving attempt. This is a section of his recent gold medal winning fruit carving arrangement at an annual AFC competition. Remarkable progress in only 1 year, don’t you think?

To see more examples of Pat’s (1) watermelon carving, check out another blog post here on my blog.

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