Jason Parker Counce’s Pumpkin’ Head Dolls

By Karen Parr-Moody

 

It has been 25 years since Nashville native Jason Parker Counce created the whimsical Pumpkin’ Head Dolls that would land in the Museum of American Folk Art’s gallery and gift shop. Despite being a self-taught Folk Artist gifted with the talents of painting, sewing, woodworking and drawing, Counce never dreamed, at that early stage, that he would make Pumpkin’ Head Dolls for a quarter of a century.

 

In those 25 years, Counce has also produced booths for antique and craft shows, been featured in magazine articles and on television, and styled many homes as an interior designer.

 

“Many years have passed, but it is only the beginning,” Counce says. “I have more ideas than I can even create.”

 

To commemorate the anniversary this fall, Counce has debuted 25 pairs of Pumpkin’ Head Dolls that are collectible, one of a kind, signed and dated. Some of these are currently on view at his booth, DIRT Home + Garden, at GasLamp Too.

 

Halloween has long held a fascination for Counce, which led to his creation of the Pumpkin’ Head Dolls.

 

Ever since I was a little boy, Halloween was my favorite of all holidays,” he says. “The thought of dressing up and going door to door for candy was so exciting to me! So a friendly Pumpkin’ Head Doll just came to my mind, much like the turn-of-the-century images of vegetable people that also intrigued me.”

 

Counce – who is an interior designer and antique collector in addition to being a folk artist – always celebrates the holidays with his DIRT Home + Garden booth. But his love of Halloween began trumping other holiday when he was a mere toddler. It was then that his grandmother, a professional seamstress who always dressed to the nines, fashioned him a cat costume from her mink coat.

 

Counce says, “I still to this day smile when I see pictures of that … or a black cat.”

 

For years, Counce’s GasLamp booth has been a Halloween destination place, for it is a stylish intersection where goth meets glitter – and where the pumpkin people are always well-heeled. His Pumpkin’ Head Dolls include vintage fabrics and many careful details.

 

Throughout the years, Counce has employedanything from old cotton to silk to net in making his Pumpkin’ Head Dolls. He has also used lots of vintage ribbon trims and buttons, which help create a nostalgic look.

 

So this Halloween, if you place a Pumpkin’ Head Dolls on your porch for the trick-or-treaters to see, know that you are part of the storied history of a Nashville native and his folk art opus.

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