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How One Man Is Making Pumpkin Carving a Creative Art Form

The Squashcarver standing next to his detailed carving of the headless horsemen on a giant pumpkin.

The Squashcarver: Carving artistic masterpieces out of simple squash

Creating works of art depicting depth, character, and stunning detail through pumpkin carving has become a love affair of Gus Smithhisler. 

How the Squashcarver was born

Self-taught artist Gus “Squashcarver” Smithhisler began carving pumpkins over 20 years ago after participating in a Pumpkin Weigh-Off.  Seeing these gigantic gourds discarded after the contest sparked the idea of transforming them into art, laying the foundation for his carving career.

The man of many talents is quite busy this time of the year. Working year-round as an engineer, he carves time from his busy schedule to showcase his skills at many fall festivities and attractions. From the Ohio State Fair and the Columbus Zoo to the Circleville Pumpkin Show and the Bellagio Resort and Casino in Las Vegas to many other events, he shares his passion and talent with pumpkin carving. 

What inspires the Squashcarver’s pumpkin art

I recently caught up with the Squashcarver about his passion for gourds after he had just completed four days of carving 4,000 pounds of pumpkins. 

When asked about what influences a design, Gus shared that if there is a theme to the event, it will dictate some of the direction he takes. However, the final image depends on the pumpkin’s shape and size. He sketches a plan before carving but does not use any stencils or patterns. 

When carving giant pumpkins, the time investment can be substantial. A pumpkin weighing 500-1,000 pounds may demand 4-6 hours of detailed work. At the same time, larger gourds require at least two days of commitment. Remarkably, Gus has managed to carve a colossal pumpkin exceeding 2,000 pounds within a single day.

Nationally attention for his pumpkin carvings

Regularly undertaking commissioned projects and participating in events, Gus has collaborated with notable clients. His commissioned works often feature logos and social media posts for large corporations, including Tim Hortons, Carter’s Clothing, and AfterPay. He has also collaborated on Halloween movies, showcasing his versatility and recognition in the field.

The Squashcarver was also on Halloween Wars Season 6 on the Food Network Channel. 

Self-taught and passionate about art, Gus explains that he was able to hone his skills through experimentation and practice despite not having formal artistic training. During high school and college, he would draw as a hobby. 

What fuels the Squashcaver’s passion for carving

In addition to pumpkin carving, Gus’s artistic efforts have diversified into various forms of food art. He has mastered carving a wide range of fruits and vegetables, such as melons, carrots, and peppers, and has ventured into cheese sculpting, working with 40-pound blocks. Contributing to a team creating a staggering 1,400-pound cheese sculpture at the Indiana State Fair is a highlight of his multifaceted career. 

The man known as the Squashcarver stands beside his creation of a multi dimensional image of an elephant carved out of a giant pumpkin.

Gus and his wife also enjoy working on fiberglass sculptures, predominantly focusing on pumpkin-themed creations, further expanding his artistic expression. For Gus’ Squashcarver’ Smithhisler, a hobby inspired by competition has blossomed into a passionate and diverse creative journey.

To see his masterpieces firsthand, visit the events page of his website,, for details and locations of his fall pumpkin carving schedule. His work is beyond what you may imagine and is worth the effort to enjoy in person. 

For more autumn fun activities, check out How to Enjoy Shores and Islands This Fall

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