By Barb Howell | Photography By Holly Leitner
Who hasn’t carved a jack-o’-lantern to usher in fall festivities? Triangles for eyes and a nose, a toothy grin for a mouth and you’re done, right? Well, not if you’re Dori Davis Beck. This talented Lake Geneva artist has a passion for pumpkins that translates into elaborate carvings that are both magical and amazing. So amazing in fact, that Davis Beck has created a business called Studio Dori, in which she showcases her talents in the form of one-of-a-kind carved creations.
Her specialty is carving pumpkins featuring intricate businesses logos, but her designs have graced pumpkins that have been the centerpieces of birthday celebrations, private parties, weddings, even marriage proposals. Her skills and talents encompass a variety of culinary décor, ranging from beautifully carved watermelons to etched wine glasses and other glassware.
HER TALENT EMERGES
Many know Davis Beck’s designs from Lake Geneva’s annual Oktoberfest celebration, this year scheduled for Oct. 10-11 and her own event, Lunafest, to be held at Twin Lakes Country Club on Halloween. Her pumpkin carving prowess, however, began years ago. “I used to carve with my older brother when I was just a kid. I didn’t think it would stick with me, but something really kicked in after carving a small pumpkin for Mars Resort when I bartended there years ago.”
She explains that after that first attempt, she began receiving lots of requests for specially carved pumpkins, which just so happened to coincide with Lake Geneva’s Oktoberfest celebration. “I talked with George Hennerley, [the then-president of the Geneva Lake Area Chamber of Commerce] and he gave me permission to stay after dark to carve. I probably carved nine or ten pumpkins. A woman who was the director for a facility for mentally challenged adults in Milwaukee stopped by and requested 20 pumpkins. It was an overwhelming and rewarding experience to accomplish that.” At this point, Davis Beck knew she could turn her pumpkin carving talents into a creative outlet and express herself with this art form.
This fall Dori is working with 25 businesses to create one-of-a-kind pumpkins that incorporate unique designs with complex logos and fun details. The top five business sponsored pumpkins will be on display at this year’s Oktoberfest celebration in Lake Geneva’s Flat Iron Park. The remaining 20 will be featured and lit Halloween night during Lunafest at Twin Lakes Country Club.
HOW SHE CARVES
No matter how ornate the design, all of Davis Beck’s creations are done freehand; nothing is ever traced. She attributes this ability to her high school yearbook days when she processed photographs from negatives: “Whatever is white is black and whatever is black is white, that might have triggered this gift,” she explains.
Her tools consist of a wide assortment, including some found in pumpkin carving kits she’s purchased, those she’s fashioned from dowel rods, even an assortment of kitchen utensils have a place in her tool kit. She may carve with her left or right hand, holding the pumpkin right-side up or upside down, while keeping it steady with her legs. Once she starts, she says, “I’m in a groove and I’m not stopping!”
Although she’s carved thousands of pumpkins for many clients in the 18 years since she placed that first one on the piano at Mars Resort, a highlight of her pumpkin carving career will occur during this year’s Lake Geneva Oktoberfest when she attempts to break the Guinness World Record for fastest time to carve a jack-o’lantern. The record is 16.47 seconds and the caveat is the pumpkin must have a face including eyes, nose, mouth and ears. To carve a pumpkin with just over sixteen ticks on the clock seems almost impossible, but all bets are on that Davis Beck will do just that by harnessing her magical passion for pumpkins.