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row of glass pumpkins sitting on a wooden plank on top of hay bale at the Jack Pine Glass Pumpkin Festival in Laurelville Ohio

Ohio's Colorful Pumpkin Patch

At the Annual Jack Pine Glass Pumpkin Festival, harvest gorgeous glass pumpkins – and a cornucopia of autumn memories – in the Hocking Hills.

Glass Pumpkins at the Jack Pine Glass Pumpkin Festival in Laurelville

Ohio's Colorful Pumpkin Patch

By Damaine Vonada

Posted On: Sep 16, 2022

When it comes to autumn splendor, the Hocking Hills in Southeast Ohio is a doubly delightful destination. Its famously scenic combination of woodsy ridges, sharp valleys, and fanciful rock formations not only offer a kaleidoscope of fall colors – think hickory and sycamore trees glowing yellow and gold or oaks and maples turning the landscape russet and red – but also harbors a one-of a-kind attraction where you can pick out beautiful blown-glass pumpkins to treasure and enjoy year after year. 

artist and glass blower Jack Pine sitting on hay bale with glass pumpkins outside Jack Pine Studio in Laurelville Ohio
Photo credit: Jack Pine Studio

At his eponymous studio just outside Laurelville, nationally known glass artist, nature lover, and Ohio native Jack Pine creates exquisite items for the home and garden, and pumpkins made in lustrous hues – including amethyst, blackberry, aqua, and auburn – with iridescent accents and elegantly curved stems are his signature creation. 

collection of glass pumpkins at the Jack Pine Glass Pumpkin Festival in Laurelville Ohio

In fact, Jack is so proficient at making imaginative and eye-catching pumpkins that he's widely regarded as the nation's leading art glass pumpkin blower.  

interior of jack pine studio in laurelville ohio

Sitting on several idyllic acres just off State Route 180, his spacious and easy-to-reach studio contains a combination retail store and a gallery that showcases curated pieces by Jack as well as other artists working in a variety of media. 

people at the observation area watching hot shop glassblowers at Jack Pine Studio in Laurelville Ohio

It also boasts a large hot shop with indoor and outdoor observation areas that allow visitors to easily observe Jack – who often conducts workshops – and his well-trained staff of glassblowers inflate, stretch, and shape liquid glass into works of art. "People love to come here and see artisans blow glass because the process itself is exciting," says Jack. "It's like dancing with molten glass and fire."

Jack grew up in a rural village near Circleville, and as an adventurous boy, he reveled in roaming the southern Ohio countryside, getting close to nature, and discovering the interesting shapes and colors of seed pods, mushrooms, pumpkins, and other living things. Another highlight of his childhood was going to the Circleville Pumpkin Show – one of the nation's oldest and biggest pumpkin-centric celebrations – with his parent every October.

After graduating from the Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD), Jack honed his glass blowing skills at studios in Seattle and Boulder, Colorado. One day, a friend in Colorado asked if he could make a glass pumpkin, and it turned out so well that Jack had a eureka moment. 

glass pumpkins from jack pine studio in laurelville ohio
Photo credit: Teresa Riley

"After I finished making that cute little pumpkin, I looked at it and thought it would be really, really fabulous for the Circleville Pumpkin Show," recalls Jack. So, in 1994, he worked late into the night for a month to make a batch of glass pumpkins in time for that year's Pumpkin Show.

Then Jack loaded them into a U-Haul trailer, climbed into his Toyota pick-up, and headed for Circleville. He set out his out pumpkins along a downtown street, and they immediately started to sell. "Boy, did we get hammered with customers," says Jack. "People like my pumpkins so much that they even wanted to buy the cracked ones!" 

That trip from Colorado to Circleville turned out to be start of a successful personal and professional journey for Jack. He began making a unique and very collectible Pumpkin of the Year for every Circleville Pumpkin Show, and galleries and museums around the world started snapping up his work.

Eventually, Jack moved home to Ohio and had a studio in Columbus's artsy Short North neighborhood. In 2016, he finally was able to fulfill his long-held desire to live and work in the Hocking Hills, whose natural beauty continually inspires him. "Nature provides plenty of subject matter, and this area is a glass blower's dream," says Jack. 

woman looking at collection of glass pumpkins arranged an hay bales at jack pine glass pumpkin festival at jack pine studio in laurelville ohio
Photo credit: Teresa Riley 

During the Covid epidemic in 2020, he decided to host a curated outdoor art show – the Jack Pine Glass Pumpkin Festival – on the grounds of his studio so that people could get outdoors and enjoy the Hocking Hills' crisp autumn air and splendid fall foliage. To prevent overcrowding, he even came up with a reserved parking system, and for this year's festival, people can book a parking spot online at www.glasspumpkinfestival.com.

Open from Friday, Sept. 23 through Sunday, Sept. 25, the 2022 Glass Pumpkin Festival will feature a bountiful array of Jack's glorious pumpkins as well as his latest Pumpkin of the Year, a classic orange design that hauntingly evokes leafless trees and a full moon.  

During the festival, regional artists and fine craftspeople will display everything from copper sculptures to pearl jewelry; a string band and singer/songwriters will perform; and local food vendors will supply plenty of pumpkin treats and sweets.

In addition to finding hundreds of real pumpkins for sale, festival-goers can watch Ohio State alumnus Gus "Squashcarver" Smithhisler transform a 600-pound, grown-in-Ohio pumpkin into a detailed work of art before their very eyes. Like the Jack Pine Glass Pumpkin Festival itself, his giant pumpkin sculpture is an Ohio original that's well worth a trip to the Hocking Hills.

For more arts & culture and seasonal fun to enjoy this #FallinOhio, check out #OhioFindItHere at Ohio.org.

 

*Hero image photo credit: Teresa Riley. All other photos courtesy of Damaine Vonada (unless otherwise noted)

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