Carole Duh’s pumpkin patch grows again at Artique
Local fiber artist and boutique celebrate a 10-year anniversary
First Friday Artist Opening: Carole Duh’s Pumpkin Patch
- When: 6-9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 1
- Where: Artique, 283 N. Main St., Kamas
- Cost: Free
- Web: facebook.com/artiqueartandgifts
The Great Pumpkin will make an appearance during textile artist Carole Duh’s annual pumpkin patch display on Friday, Sept. 1, during the monthly First Friday Artist Opening reception at Artique boutique in Kamas.
“I call him the Mega Man, but he truly is The Great Pumpkin,” said Duh, a Summit County resident who creates an annual collection of hand-made decorative pumpkins out of yarn, felt and other materials she can get her hands on. “Since I sew and dabble in upholstering, I went to one my resources at Blazing Needles in Salt Lake, and they had orange fabric that was thick enough and wouldn’t stretch or pull out of shape.”
Duh found inspiration for the new piece that measures 18 inches high and 20-plus inches across at her orthodontist’s office.
“I saw this great photo of a huge jack-o-lantern with braces that a child had made for a contest, and I said, ‘Would you like some pumpkins made with braces and buck teeth?'” she said. “And my orthodontist loved the idea and ordered 15 more smaller pumpkins.”
Duh knew that The Great Pumpkin had to be large and over-the-top.
“I also wanted him to look a little torturous, because braces used to be torturous back in the day,” she said. “So, I walked the aisles of Home Depot twice, looking for anything that would look torturous.”
Duh found some metal clips and wire rope that is used by climbers to devise the braces.
“I also wanted him to have a benign and sleepy look, so I made a design with big eyes that were made out of buttons, and cut some fabric to make half-masked eyelids,” she said. “And he is filled with 15 pounds of fiber fill.”
Duh experienced the weight of her creation in the literal sense when she needed someone to cut and crimp the wire rope so it wouldn’t cut anyone.
“I live in a neighborhood of tradesmen, and if I don’t have a tool, I will go door-to-door to see if someone can help,” she said. “I found someone who could cut the wire rope, and he lived across the street.”
But after lifting the pumpkin, Duh decided to put it in her car and drive it to her neighbor’s house.
“I consider myself a pretty strong person, and I have no qualms about carrying ladders and things like that,” she said. “But after I started to carry the pumpkin over, I decided to use my car, because I didn’t know who would save me if I fell over.”
Although The Great Pumpkin will not be on sale during the First Friday Artist Opening, attendees will have their choice from a collection of 200 knitted and crafted pumpkins that Duh created this year. And each one of them is unique.
“I use high-quality yarn, but in the beginning I used anything I could get my hands on that wouldn’t put too high of a price on what I was doing,” she said. “Then I realized the more beautiful ones, the ones that appealed to me, were the ones made from kettle-dyed 100% wool and mohair that gives the pumpkins a sort of halo.”
Duh also adds one or two additional yarns to each pumpkin that gives them a different color combination that isn’t found anywhere else.
“So these are all one-of-a-kind items,” she said.
Adding to the uniqueness are the real pumpkin stems Duh uses as item toppers.
“I have used sticks in the past, but there is something about real pumpkin stems that makes these all the more special,” she said.
Every year, Duh’s friends will give her a batch of stems for her birthday, in November.
“They will collect them during pumpkin season from September to November,” she said.
Last year, Duh received a special gift of stems from the Park City Gardens, the only other place she sells her works.
Duh broke her wrist last year, which prevented her from knitting, so she and a group of friends, whom Duh calls her Ghost Knitters, would meet at the Gardens’ greenhouse every Wednesday from May through September for coffee and breakfast.
“I would bring the packet of yarn, needles and instructions, and the ghost knitters would give me the ones they had finished,” Duh said. “We would occupy that table for hours, and the staff adopted us.”
At the end of last year’s pumpkin season Park City Gardens owner Sophy Kohler and the staff asked Duh to stop by.
“They gave me a bag of the most exquisite pumpkin stems I’ve ever seen in my life,” Duh said. “I thought that was one of the nicest acts of kindness, especially after such a crazy year. And those stems make this year’s batch the most extraordinary that I’ve ever made.”
Duh began showcasing and selling her pumpkins at Artique in 2013, which makes this year the 10th anniversary of the partnership between her and Artique owner Katie Stellpflug.
“Having Katie asking me to continue doing this means she trusts me,” Duh said with a laugh. “(Artique) gives me a place to show and expand my work, and I get to associate with other artisans and members in the community. And when visitors come in for the first time, we get to meet them and introduce our works.”
In turn, Duh and the other showcasing artists repay Stelpflug by working one day a month at the boutique.
“They all contribute beautifully and have a passion for the place, because Katie supports us and does an extraordinary job at making us grow as artists,” Duh said. “It’s been a great opportunity.”
Stellpflug has also enjoyed the decade-long partnership with Duh.
“Not only does she make unique fiber creations, she helps us with product placement and the design of the gallery,” Stellpflug said. “Since pumpkins are her specialty, we, of course, look forward to September and the autumn season, as that is when we get to feature her annual knitted pumpkin patch.”
Park City Institute’s 2023-24 Main Stage season includes Grammy winners, historians, dance and a puppy show.
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