11th Annual Pumpkin Patch Festival

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11th Annual Pumpkin Patch Festival

PSC alumni, students glass blow at First City Art Center event

By Alex Naselius

First City Art Center’s (FCAC) 11th annual Pumpkin Patch turned the art workshop into a dazzling display of colorful glass and ceramic pumpkins for sale.

Held Oct. 13-14, the art party also included hors-d’oeuvres, beers from Pensacola Bay Brewery and live music. Guests looked over thousands of glass and ceramic pumpkins, while FCAC artists put on live glassblowing demonstrations.

Each piece was auctioned off to the crowd as it was finished. Proceeds from these live-blown auctions went completely to supporting FCAC artists and the organization.

The most expensive item of the weekend was a beautiful vase that sold for $450. 

Murphy’s and Baldwin’s finished vase was created in front of the public. It sold for $450.

The vase was blown by Luke Baldwin, a Pensacola State College Alumni who found his passion taking the glassblowing class offered at FCAC for PSC. Now the assistant instructor for that very same class, Luke hopes to expose his students to glass as an artform, and perhaps a career. To that end, the Pumpkin Patch can be an eye-opening experience if you are interested in art as a career.

Connor Baldwin is an artist, like his brother Luke, but he never expected he would be making money from his art while still in school. Having taken the glassblowing class offered by PSC, Connor found a love for glass that is evident in the way he speaks about glass.

This year was Connor’s first time having his work sold at the pumpkin patch.“Personally for me as an artist, this is one of the biggest opportunities ever,” Connor said.

Connor started making his pumpkins in April and ended up with 156 unique pumpkins for sale starting at $20. Less than 20 hours into the event, 152 had been sold.

Connor never expected to make that kind of money as an art student and he plans to participate next year as well. With some experience under his belt, he’s ready to do it bigger.

Over 4,000 unique pumpkins were available to purchase. Each pumpkin was handmade by FCAC artists and ranged in price from $15 to $300..Of the roughly 4,000 pumpkins for sale, only around 300 were left at the end of the event.

FCAC Instructor Devon Murphy calls the event a huge success for the program.

“Without this event, there wouldn’t be an art center,” Murphy said. As member of the FCAC Glass Guild, Murphy also runs the glass blowing studio, teaches the PSC glass blowing class and is one of FCAC’s five full time employees.

“Without [the Pumpkin Patch] the artists [here] wouldn’t get to blow glass, we would have closed our doors.”

This event pays for roughly a third of FCAC’s operating costs for the year according to Murphy, meaning its success is integral for FCAC to be able to remain open providing classes and a workshop.

PSC student Michelle Brooks attends the FCAC every year so she can be the one of many to purchase handcrafted glass pumpkins.

Those who went to the pre-party to have first dibs on the hottest pumpkins ended up with more than just something to take home. Michelle Brooks, a nursing student at PSC, came for her second year in a row.

“I was really looking forward to [the Pumpkin Patch] this year after I had such a great time last year. There were so many beautiful pumpkins last year, and it seems like there’s even more this year,” Brooks said. “I had to buy three pumpkins this time because I couldn’t choose just one.”

Brooks said her favorite part of these events is the live demonstrations. “It’s so interesting watching them just pull these things out of seemingly thin air.” She say’s that the live demonstrations make her want to learn how to blow glass. “Oh, I’m definitely signing up for the class next semester.” she said. “I really want to learn how to do it.”

First City Art Center’s next big event is its first Hot Glass Cold Brew of the season is December 8th. Connor and Luke’s next step will be as artists participating at these events.