Smashing pumpkins

Smashing pumpkins

For only the fourth time in its more than century-long history, there will be no Circleville Pumpkin Show this year — yet another scheduling casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic.

No one is more disappointed than Jack Pine. 

A master glass-blower and craftsman, Pine and his artisans create some 2,500 special pumpkins annually for the Circleville show. The exquisite works of handblown glass that have been purchased by showgoers are cherished in homes throughout the Buckeye State and many states beyond.  

Pumpkin variety

Jack Pine's pumpkins come in a variety of colors.

Jack Pine making a pumpkin
Trio of pumpkins
Pumpkin stem

Born in rural Tarlton in southern Ohio, Pine began studying glass-blowing decades ago in Seattle, Washington, and says he’s still perfecting the process to this day at his studio in Laurelville, where he’s a member of South Central Power Company. “I knew I was in love with glass-blowing from the start, as it involves everything I enjoy as an artist,” Pine says. “It’s a mystical medium, and I was drawn to it immediately. You take a glob of hot, molten glass from the furnace and turn it into a gorgeous work of art — that initial experience was magical to me and continues to be.” 

Years ago, while still in Seattle, a friend asked Pine to make a glass pumpkin, so he crafted a traditional orange pumpkin with a green stem. “It looked pretty good,” he says. “That’s when I remembered the Pumpkin Show back home in Ohio and a light went on in my head.”

Pine attended his first Circleville Pumpkin Show in 1994; he brought several hundred small, glass pumpkins with him and sold every one. “I even sold a few broken and cracked pumpkins that people knew were damaged. It didn’t seem to bother them, and that’s when I knew I had something special.”

Initially, Pine didn’t think folks would pay much more than $30 to $40 for a glass pumpkin, but today he has pumpkins at every price point. Some of his more elaborate and elegant creations sell for hundreds of dollars, with his most expensive pumpkins priced at $1,200.  

His palette has also evolved to include a rainbow of colors. What makes Jack Pine pumpkins so beautiful is the technique he’s perfected of iridizing glass to give the exterior of his creations such lustrous, bright hues.  

“The more elaborate and more non-pumpkin the colors, the more people seem to like them,” Pine says. “After traditional orange, white is our most popular color. White goes with most any home décor, and people seem to appreciate its elegant appearance.” 

This would have been Pine’s 26th year exhibiting at the Circleville Pumpkin Show. Since that’s not possible this time around, a visit to his studio — open year-round — is well worth the road trip. Along with daily glass-blowing demonstrations is a gallery of Jack’s work and the art of 25 other artists from throughout the country, all of which is for sale. You can even attend a hands-on “experience” glass-blowing class, as Jack terms it. His merchandise is also available at his website.

Keeping with the natural beauty of the Hocking Hills, Pine plans to combine his love of both glass and ceramics by creating wild seeds and seedpods on a larger-than-life scale. “I’m thinking I’d like the finished product to be the size of a table’s centerpiece,” he says. “The seedpods will be made out of ceramic and the seeds out of glass. I love working in both mediums, and it seems a natural fit.”

Not surprisingly, Pine has high praise for the Circleville Pumpkin Show and its management. “I’m very thankful for the town’s continued support of me and my artwork,” he says. “They helped me get started years ago — gave me a chance — and I will be forever grateful. I look forward to seeing everyone back at the show again next fall.”