Character Design: Pumpkin Heads and Apple Heads

American artist, Ray Villafane, carves pumpkins into a variety of character heads. Check out the pictures here. Happy Hallowe’en!

What he may or not realise is that he is following in a very old tradition of folk art. In the past, toys were a luxury that many working people couldn’t afford to pay for – so they made their own. Apples were an ideal medium for carving dolls heads out of and this folk art is still practiced in rural America. I have also seen a British example in the V&A’s Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green. The Museum of Childhood has an extensive collections of historical toys and is a fantastic resource for ideas for character designs.

I am currently experimenting with apple heads myself, since finding this wild apple on an isolated tree at the top of a mountain in the Pyrennees when I was on holiday this summer. I call her Mrs Applebaum and am using her as the starting point for developing a new character.

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