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Paintin’ pumpkins

SELMA — Brushing thick strokes over the outside of the ceramic pumpkin, Becky Youngblood carefully spreads off-white paint.

“The best advice I have gotten was that you have to treat it like fingernail polish,” Youngblood said. “If it starts to peel off, then you have to make the coat thicker.”

Youngblood and her girlfriends gather at a table in the middle of the room at The Ceramics Art Program, located in the basement of the Old Dallas Academy Building, painting pumpkins with personalized names cut into them for their children or to give as gifts.

Molds are available all year, but the most popular mold of the season is the personalized pumpkin. These pumpkin molds, with removable lids, have been available for three years, gaining more popularity with each year. Available in three varieties of sizes, aspiring or veteran artists can order any name carved into their pumpkin.

“They do the name cutting out for you, which is a good thing because it would take us a long time,” Youngblood said.

Candi Duncan, director of The Ceramic Art Program, remembered when the idea began. “It all started with Councilperson Dr. Monica Newton,” Duncan said. “She made one that said Jackson, then came back and made a Monica, Wylie and smiling one. And then they had a whole family of them.”

Painters have the option of more than 1,500 molds, although not all molds are continually available. For the sake of space, when a new mold is added an old one must leave, but basic pieces are most popular sellers. “Everybody wants to make a plate, but not necessarily a gargoyle,” Duncan said.

Beth Pearce encouraged Youngblood and her other friends to join the program. “This is so much better than that aerobics class we did,” Pearce said.

Orders for personalized pumpkins are ready for painting one week after order date. Enrolling in the program costs a one-time fee of $20, plus the cost of tools and ceramic pieces. Pumpkins range from $6 to $12, plus $5 for personalization. Cost of paint, firing and glazing included. All profits are given to the city’s fund. The Ceramic Art Program is at 816 Selma Ave. and is open Tuesday 9 a.m. to noon and 3 to 5:30 p.m., Wednesday 9 a.m. to noon and Thursday 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. For more information, call 874-2143.