Adam Bierton, a professional pumpkin carver, showcased his skills at the New York Botanical Garden recently. Using a tool similar to a carrot peeler, Bierton meticulously carved a face into a pumpkin, with a crowd of onlookers fascinated by the process. He creates intricate carvings that often depict snarling or wailing faces with bulging eyes. Unlike traditional jack-o’-lanterns, his carvings are not hollowed out or lit from within.
Bierton’s interest in pumpkin carving began during his childhood, influenced by his father’s imaginative jack-o’-lanterns. His passion grew during his time as a student at the School of the Arts, where he experimented with sculpting using clay, plaster, and metal. After refining his technique under the guidance of experienced carvers, Bierton was part of a winning team on the competition show “Halloween Wars” in 2015.
Now a professional carver, Bierton is one of the few artists in the United States who carves pumpkins for a living. He has been conducting demonstrations at the New York Botanical Garden since 2018. Despite facing time pressure and being allergic to pumpkins, Bierton is drawn to the art form.
Bierton’s journey from amateur to professional carver began when he reached out to Maniac Pumpkin Carvers, a team that specializes in etching designs into pumpkins. He worked with them for several years before establishing himself as a top-tier carver. He now earns money by working live events and partnering with brands for promotional pumpkin carvings.
The carving process involves carefully peeling the skin of the pumpkin to reveal the flesh underneath, which provides a good base for sculpting. Bierton then uses various tools to block in the face, create perspective with shadows, and add finer details with knife work.
Bierton’s love for pumpkins as a medium stems from the uniqueness of each pumpkin and how the material changes. He enjoys the ephemeral nature of his creations, as they cannot be preserved for long periods.
Outside of pumpkin carving, Bierton owns a fried-chicken restaurant in Rochester. Despite being constantly asked to carve pumpkins for others, he rarely has the time due to his busy schedule. He spends around six hours on each carving, often working on two or three pumpkins per day during the busy season.
When it comes to decorating his own house for Halloween, Bierton opts for all pumpkins and avoids tacky decorations. He also develops close relationships with farmers at the pumpkin patch he visits, ensuring he can select the best pumpkins for his carvings.
Overall, Bierton’s dedication and passion for pumpkin carving shine through in his impressive designs, making him one of the top pumpkin carvers in the United States.