‘Lord of the Gourd’ carves up autumn
Traverse City – — Patrick Harrison is practiced at pumpkin-carving patter. His calming voice follows the flick of his knife, his story emerging alongside his pumpkin’s warped leer.
You can’t separate pumpkin from carver — they’re a package deal, he said.
“People try to buy my pumpkins and I say, ‘You get me with it,’ ” Harrison said of his appearance-based business model.
Part of the fun is the exchange with people, and the two-month color tour — besides, he wouldn’t have time to just fill pumpkin orders, he said.
The Maple City resident’s time is already pressed as it is. With more than 30 appearances crammed into this month, Harrison — known as the “Lord of the Gourd” — is either driving or carving from September into November.
Harrison, also a musician, is grateful that his offbeat passion for carving misshapen faces into fruit and vegetables is a full-time career, albeit a seasonal one.
“If Halloween lasted all year, I’d be a millionaire,” Harrison said. “I’m like Santa Claus on Christmas.”
But seasons change, and Harrison, with repetitive-motion injuries stemming from 15 years of “doodling with a knife” on 400 or so gourds a year, wonders how long his will last. His tools require small movements to provide detail on his canvas of choice.
“Carpal tunnel, arthritis, tendonitis — pretty soon I’m going to develop ‘pumpkin-itis,’ ” Harrison said. “If it wasn’t for glucosamine and cortisone, I’d already be done.”
He says he is going to quit every year but can’t stop. Harrison, 52, is compelled to carve, and keeps finding ways to continue, even through the winter. Harrison fills a camper with gourds and covers them with blankets. He’ll lose about half but the rest will survive, each becoming a work of art.
“It’s too much fun to stop,” Harrison said. “And really, the pumpkins do all the work; I’m just the frontman for the band.”