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A Passion for Pumpkins

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Childhood pals Chris Soria and Marc Evan don’t sleep much in October. Leading up to Halloween, the masterminds behind NYC’s Maniac Pumpkins drop their day jobs as a muralist and an illustrator, respectively, to fill around 500 orders for their amazing jack-o’-lanterns. They use pumpkins as blank canvases for intricate portraits, fantastical monsters, and tongue-in-cheek replicas of famous art.

How did your business get started?

Chris: For several years we had been carving pumpkins just for fun — for Halloween parties or for bars we were working at.

Marc: Then we started getting requests — in 2009, the New York Yankees asked us to carve 50 pumpkins in 36 hours for Game 1 of the World Series. That’s when we realized we had to take the next step.

What’s your strangest creation so far?

Chris: Last year we made a life-size alligator from several different pumpkins and then moved it to various public places around Brooklyn.

How do you choose a pumpkin to carve?

Marc: You want it to be plump, not sunken or withering. And look for a green stem; it’s a sign of a younger pumpkin.

What tools do you use?

Chris: We primarily use linoleum cutters for etching and pear-shaped clay loops for “skinning” the pumpkin, leaving the remaining pulp to sculpt into. We also use knives — paring, utility, craft — for details.

What’s the key to a pumpkin’s longevity?

Chris: It is a fruit, of course, and once you start carving, it’s susceptible to rot. Wrapping it in plastic and putting it in the fridge when it’s not on display will make it last longer. You should also take a good photo of it, because it’s not going to be there forever.

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