Why are hundreds of people lining in front of Brick City and overflowing into surrounding streets? If it’s near Halloween, there’s only one answer: the annual Clay Pumpkin Carving.
The Clay Pumpkin Carving is an event for MSU students, as well as the Springfield community, to get into the autumnal spirit by “carving” something other than a pumpkin. Kevin Hughes, Associate Professor of Ceramics in the Art + Design Department started this event around 2010, with the first attendees consisting of his son’s soccer team. Fast forward to 2019, and the event has grown exponentially—last year nearly 400 participants joined in on the festivities.
The event is put on by students who are members of Clayworks, a student organization open to any student who has an interest in clay and/or ceramics. You don’t have to be an art major to be a part of this organization either; “Clayworks is open to all,” says Hughes. Clayworks is a deserving organization that “is annually successful in receiving SOFAC Funding to help bring in visiting artists and help its members attend regional, national, and international workshops and conferences,” says Hughes, and “a requirement of the funding involves hosting an event for the community.” Clayworks has made the Clay Pumpkin carving their annual community event.
Clayworks, students and faculty, and any additional volunteers begin prepping for the event 2-3 weeks prior, throwing clay pumpkins and trying “to keep them from drying out,” says Hughes. Before the event, a pumpkin patch is constructed at Brick City, then filled with over 300 clay pumpkins ready for carving. In the past, participants have even been known to line “up at least an hour early before the patch opens and sometimes before the patch has even been created,” says Hughes. After choosing the perfect pumpkin from the patch, participants will then take it into Brick 1 and begin carving. The pumpkins are then sent away to be fired and picked up at a later date.
The impact the Clay Pumpkin Carving has on the community is remarkable. “We have families of multiple generations that have been coming for years to carve clay pumpkins,” says Hughes, “those who show range in age from 3-years-old to 90-years-old.” Due to the fact that clay is not a medium traditionally taught in area public schools, parents have even said that this is the first time their children have interacted with clay. Hughes says it’s incredible “to see the awe on the faces of children and adults as they actually create something” of their own.
Whether a first-time clay pumpkin carver, a seasoned ceramicist, or simply a lover of all things Halloween, Clay Pumpkin Carving is fun – and free – way for everyone to experience clay in a welcoming community.
Want to go?
When: Monday, October 7, 5-8pm
Where: Missouri State University Clayworks, 327 W Mill St, Springfield, MO
Check out the Facebook page for the event here.