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Jackie O’Lantern
Pumpkin carving artist to give demo at library

For most people celebrating Halloween, sawing on a pumpkin with a kitchen knife and scooping out its seeds is the usual process to create a grinning jack-o’-lantern.
But artist Jackie Koepfer sees a canvas of orange to be delicately sliced into a masterpiece.
Ms. Koepfer will give a presentation on her unique pumpkin carving technique at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, September 27, at the Rossford Public Library.
With a background in graphics, she was inspired with the idea in 1999 by a pumpkin carving on the Jay Leno late night TV show.
“I thought ‘nobody does that,’ and I wanted to check it out,” she recalled.
Ms. Koepfer, who lives in Swanton, researched patterns online and then began drawing her own designs, beginning with characters from “The Matrix” movies.
Since then, her pumpkin carvings have featured a variety of rock musicians such as Randy Rhoads and Jimi Hendrix; wild animals including leopards, owls, lions and even dragons, and movie characters such as Captain Jack Sparrow and Spiderman.
Her technique has advanced through the years, and in 2004, she made a major change by no longer carving all the way through the pumpkin’s flesh.
“It makes it more stable,” she explained.
She begins her work by creating a black, white and gray pattern of the design on computer, using Paint Shop Pro software.
The pattern is converted into a negative, printed on paper and then taped onto the pumpkin.
“And you have to be careful because the juice soaks through the paper,” Ms. Koepfer pointed out with a laugh.
Using wood carving tools and an exacto blade, she then makes the cuts following the pattern.
The difficulty comes in trying to create the detail without damaging the material.
“For example with an eyeball, you have the oval and the pupil. If you cut out the outside, the whole thing comes out. So you have to cut it but keep it connected and still have it look separate,” she explained.
Ms. Koepfer advised that the carved pumpkins can be preserved two to three weeks if kept cool, and sponged with lemon juice and water.
Currently she is carving the Hogwarts castle from the Harry Potter books on a 200-pound pumpkin.
Some of her next designs she would like to do are the late musician Prince and actor Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka.
She also creates pumpkins with companies logos and wedding portraits.
Ms. Koepfer received some national attention recently for her carving from “The Walking Dead” TV show.
A friend sent a photograph of the pumpkin featuring the character of Daryl Dixon to actor Norman Reedus, and impressed, he posted it on social media.
She enjoys displaying her creations and the reaction of viewers.
“It’s just fun for the shock value–to see people’s face,” she said. “They’ll go up and touch it and still can’t believe it’s really carved. They think it’s painted.”
A display of her many carvings and a video of her working can be seen on her Facebook page.
At the library presentation, she will have several examples with patterns and her tools on display to demonstrate her sculpture technique.
Ms. Koepfer also will teach those attending the session a basic method to do their own carvings.
Registration for the free library presentation is requested by calling the library at 419-666-0924.
–Beth Church


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Rossford lies at the heart of the Crossroads of America, an area experiencing tremendous economic growth, located at the crossroads of Interstate 75 and the Ohio Turnpike. The city's population of approximately 6,000 is primarily a mix of descendants of Polish, Czechoslovakian, German and Ukrainian workers who came from Pennsylvania to work at the glass plant, now Pilkington.

Rossford was incorporated as a village in 1939 and as a city in 1971. The City is a municipal corporation which operates under its own charter and is governed by a mayor and seven-member City Council. Rossford is served by full-time police and part-time fire departments, dispatched from the neighboring Village of Walbridge.

The City maintains a Community Recreation Center and three parks, one of which,Veterans Memorial Park, features a seasonal marina along with picnic areas and diamonds and courts for baseball, tennis, basketball and volleyball.

Rossford has three elementary schools, Glenwood, Indian Hills and Eagle Point, a junior high and high school and All Saints parochial school for grades pre-kindergarten through eight.

The city boasts a public library and many service and community organizations such as the Rossford Business Association, Lions Club and Veterans of Foreign Wars. Its Rossford Community Service League sponsors annual activities such as a Valentine's Day Dance, Easter egg hunt, Halloween, Memorial Day parades and their Christmas tree lighting.

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