In the Spotlight: Hobbyist transforms pumpkins into art
by Joel Danoy
Oct 25, 2012 | 7754 views | 2 2 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Carving Halloween sights
Marcel van Kalleveen  adjusts the light on of the carved pumpkins he has made for Halloween this year on Thursday, Oct. 25.  Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
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During the Halloween season, Marcel van Kalleveen’s job is all treats and no tricks.

The 61-year-old self-described “big kid with a lot of hobbies” has perfected a 10-year hobby of carving intricate designs into foam pumpkins.

He got started when his wife, Elizabeth van Kalleveen, 48, brought him home a pumpkin from Michael’s craft store.

After a short attempt at free-handing an image, Marcel van Kalleveen grabbed a German-made miniature power tool set that his in-laws had given him for Christmas three years earlier.

“It’s very precise, and you can get into some sophisticated designs,” he said. “I can make anything, and it’s all for fun. I have a lot of hobbies I stay busy with.”

Every year around mid-August, the couple makes the trip to Michael’s to load a cart with the $20 apiece pumpkins.

“We clean the Tracy store out,” he said, “and then we go to Pleasanton, and we clean them out, too.”

About 30 pumpkins lined the front hallway of the van Kalleveens’ Garrett Court home Thursday, Oct. 25, all with lights illuminating images such as John Wayne and Dean Martin’s portraits, owls, snakes, witches, Mount Rushmore and — Marcel van Kalleveen’s personal favorite — Freddy Krueger.

Each design, depending on its detail, takes two to three hours to carve, he said. As a member of a Halloween pumpkin carving club, Marcel van Kalleveen gets the designs and then stencils them onto the pumpkins.

“I didn’t mess any up this year,” he said. “I’ve only messed up one in 10 years, but I can’t remember what it was, it’s been so long ago.”

Every pumpkin comes with Marcel van Kalleveen’s personal signature.

This year, he has carved 28 new pumpkins that will bolster his collection. During his 10 years, Marcel van Kalleveen estimated that he’s carved about 200 pumpkins.

“We put them out on the driveway every year, and the kids love it,” he said. “I’ll probably have 50 out there (this year).”

The pumpkins were so impressive that Elizabeth van Kalleveen, owner of Delta Steam Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning in Tracy, decided to design a sales pitch around the foam decorations.

During September and October, customers who have seven rooms or more cleaned receive a free carved pumpkin with the service.

“We’ve been doing this for years, and people seem to like it so much that my repeat customers are always calling me at this time of the year,” she said. “We went to a guy’s house today, and he had five of them.”

Relatives are also on the van Kalleveens’ gift list. Pumpkins were sent this year to Florida, Wisconsin and Holland.

“We have a lot of family on the Facebook, so they are always looking for them this time of the year,” Elizabeth van Kalleveen said. “He’s just a hobby guy who loves to stay busy. Everyone in our court probably has one, too, we’ve been living here so long.”

• Contact Joel Danoy at 830-4229 or
Comments-icon Post a Comment
October 28, 2012
Very impressive Sir. Thanks for sharing your skills and story.
October 26, 2012
Wow! Very impressive Mr.van Kalleveen! I love the John Wayne pumpkin.

I'm always amazed by those who have such artistic talent. I can't even draw a stick man. :)

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