Meet the Edward Scissorhands of Pumpkin Carving

When watching the Villafane family of Michigan dig into their Halloween pumpkins, the first question that comes to mind is: What did a pumpkin ever do to them? Norman Bates carved more kindly.

CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman reports Ray Villafane has a skin-'em-alive approach to pumpkin carving that he teaches kids. And not just his own kids. He goes around to schools and tries to get other children to adopt the same method. Halloween Fright Site

"If you want to make a good pumpkin you have to push the limits," says Villafane.

There's a madness to his method, but Villafane's not completely out of his gourd. In fact, he may be a genius.

For the last 15 years, Ray has spent every October in his basement studio, reinventing the art of pumpkin carving. Using sculpting tools instead of knives, Ray can now take a pumpkin, and, over the course of about eight hours, transform it into a museum-quality fruit.

"To me you carve a pumpkin to transform it into something that's alive," he says. "I'm so obsessive, when I get into something, forget it, I don't go to sleep. I stay up all night. I keep doing it."

Ray's wife Tammy says pumpkins were just the beginning. They merely opened his eyes to an infinitely carve-able world.

The former grade school teacher now sculpts full time. He makes models for toy companies and he's starting to get into sand sculpting too. Ray clearly has a gift. Such a gift, it's almost a curse.

Like many people who are the best at what they do, Ray is rarely satisfied with anything he does. And although it drives his wife nuts, Ray says it's a healthy neurosis.

In fact, that's the message he likes to leave with kids: No matter what you do, to be great you can't ever think you are. And, of course, 15 years of practice doesn't hurt either.

If Ray's accomplishments weren't impressive enough already, consider this: He's allergic to pumpkin.

  • Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.