The Pumpkin Pro

Alex Wer the pumpkin geekWhat crafter, artist, or DIYer doesn’t dream of making a living off their creativity? From the women who invented those awesome fabric snowballs to the vast empire of Young House Love, you always wonder how they managed to turn fun time into full time.

Today, we are delighted to introduce Alex Wer, a.k.a. The Pumpkin Geek. It all started in 2009, when Alex’s wife asked him to carve an artificial pumpkin for her office’s open house. It was a huge hit, and orders – from company logos to children’s portraits – started rapidly accruing. Alex’s carving talents and his expansion to Comic Cons earned him a Geekie Award in 2013. In 2017, he left his day job to be a full time pumpkin carver.

Katie caught up with Alex to ask him about his incredible creative journey that we’re NOT envious of. Well, maybe we’re a little envious. OK…we’re totally envious.


You started carving pumpkins as a favor as your wife, and now you do it full time. Did you ever imagine your career taking this turn?

Of course I never imagined it! At the beginning of what I call my “orange obsession,” it was just – how detailed can I get? Or, how photo realistic can I get? Then, my wife and I were talking and I said, “If I do a Comic Con instead of just waiting for people to find me, I’m going to be in front of tens of thousands of people. That will be a true test to see if anybody is really interested in what I do.” That conversation sparked what is now my full time job.

20000 leagues pumpkin by the pumpkin geekHow many Comic Cons do you attend each year?

I do two Comic Cons a month. I just came back from Baltimore and I think that was my 18th or 19th convention this year. I’ll be in Atlanta at the Walking Dead convention the last weekend of October. That’s my last convention for 2018, but I’ll start again in January.

What tools you use when you carve the pumpkins?

I use a Dremel. I basically have two Dremels with two different bits, so I don’t have to change them. I use a standard drill bit for cutting out things and then I use a shading and graving tool to flatten areas of the face when I need to smooth it out. It’s pretty much just two bits.

Can you describe the process of carving a pumpkin from start to finish?

Let’s say someone wants an Indiana Jones pumpkin. Unless they have a specific image they want me to use, I look online for Indiana Jones images that I think might work and will look good. Once I find the image, I create a template by enlarging it and stenciling it onto the pumpkin. Once it’s drawn onto the pumpkin, I start carving.

harry potter pumkins by the pumpkin geekWhat happens when you make a mistake?

I’ve been doing this long enough to tend not make mistakes. I tell people to think of me as a tattoo artist. Tattoo artists, once they place the image template on your skin, are just filling in the gaps. I’m basically tracing with the drill.

How long does it take to finish a carving?

The drawing and the carving portions – probably about 4 hours. The online research portion can be 5 minutes, to 5 or 10 hours. There are some images and some characters that are very hard to find, and sometimes finding the image takes me just as long, or longer, as the physical carving portion.

lord of the rings pumpkins by the pumpkin geekTell me about your five layer carving process.

If you look at my carved pumpkins, the brightest, almost white, portion is cut all the way through. That’s the first layer. Then there are three graded layers coming closer to the surface. This is where I define cheekbones, eyebrows, hair texture, things like that. Then there’s the fifth layer, which is untouched for dark eyes, black hair.

What is your most popular design?

People are really shocked when they find out about my number one design. Number 3 is Beetlejuice, which makes sense. Number 2 is Harry Potter, which also makes a lot of sense because in the Comic Con world, Harry Potter is popular with both adults and kids.

Number 1 is Tom Hiddleston’s Loki from The Avengers. I did conventions in Seattle and Chicago and he was at both conventions. I had no idea he had such a fan base! There were women who traveled from Indonesia, Australia, the UK, just to meet him! In one day, I got 17 orders for Loki. Before that, I don’t think I’ve ever had 2 orders for 1 character in the same weekend.

loki by the pumpkin geekWhat locations have your pumpkins shipped to?

Obviously anywhere in the US. I’ve also shipped to Hawai’i, Canada, Germany, and the UK. I just shipped 2 to London. I’ve shipped pumpkins to 7 or 8 different countries.

Are you on a first name basis with employees at your local craft store?

Yes, I am! Everybody there knows me, and have known me for about 8 years.

What’s your favorite pumpkin?

It’s hard for me to say! I enjoy projects of fandoms that I’m not necessarily familiar with. For example, I had heard of Doctor Who, but once I started doing conventions I realized Doctor Who has a big Comic Con and geek fandom. So it’s always fun for me to do something that’s outside of my fandom. And, of course, Star Wars and Spiderman were things that I grew up with. So I love doing those pumpkins.

favorite pumpkins by the pumpkin geek


Images courtesy of The Pumpkin Geek

Monster Class

monster class photo

Even monsters need to learn their ABCs! These easy monster mask / hat combination costumes made it easy for terrifying young scholars to brainstorm ideas for their very own spooky alphabet books.

We read My Creature Teacher, written by Laura Leuck, and illustrated by Scott Nash (South China Printing Company, 2004). It’s your typical day at school…monster school that is! Hang up your spider sack, raise your paw in class, spell spooky words, and take the fire-breathing class pet out for a little fresh air. Teachers, no matter where they are, or how big their fangs are, all deserve our respect and gratitude.

You’ll need:

  • 1 plastic hat
  • Poster board
  • Mask decorating supplies (more on this below)
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating

The thing I like best about these masks is that they’re attached to a hat. This makes it easier to avoid the dreaded “mask sag.”  And let’s face it, hats are awesome, especially on werewolves!

werewolf maskWe offered 3 different types of hats, all purchased from Oriental Trading Company:

  1. Top hat ($7 a dozen, item #13743494)
  2. Fedora ($10 a dozen, item #31/243)
  3. Derby ($7.50 a dozen, item #25/562)

Cut a mask from poster board, then curl it a little and tape it to the inside front of a plastic hat. In the below image, you can see where we attached the Creature from the Black Lagoon mask to the plastic fedora:

creature from the black lagoon maskHowever! It’s best to decorate the mask before you attach it to the hat. Just make sure you leave some empty space at the top of the mask so it rests flat on the inside of the hat.

For decorating supplies, we offered curling ribbon, paper crinkle, crepe paper streamers, tissue paper, pipe cleaners, sparkle stems, craft ties, mesh tubing, iridescent cello, patterned paper, foam beads, pom-poms, dot stickers, goose quills, cone water cups, fabric flowers, and self-adhesive foam. And the Bling Bin of course.

The crepe paper streamers were INCREDIBLY popular for making braids down the sides of the masks. The more streamers, the thicker the braids. We secured the braid to the hat with tape, but we secured the bottom with staples.

skeleton maskOnce the transformation to monster students was complete, we gathered in the “classroom” to learn the monster alphabet. Basically, I created a template with space for illustrations (see mine below). I had the class recited the monster alphabet with me (even though it was hard not to giggle).

monster alphabetWe also printed and stapled together a set of alphabet letters for kids to take home a illustrate themselves. And yes, Z is for ZOMBIE!

z is for zombie

Pop’s Top 20: Literary Halloween Costumes

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From Tikkido

The big spooky weekend is almost here, and Katie has been haunting the web to find her top 20 book-inspired DIY Halloween costumes. Our only rule was that we had to be able to trace the costume back to its original source, in the hopes that you could learn a little more about the creator, or get a chance to make it yourself! Can you guess what the above one is? Scroll to the very bottom of the post to find out!


#1 MADELINE, MISS CLAVEL & AND FRIENDS
From The Holland Family

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#2 WILD THINGS
From The Kimball Herd

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#3 CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS
From The Quilted Turtle

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#4 HANSEL AND GRETEL
From The Wright Family

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#5 LUNA LOVEGOOD
From BalthierFlare

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#6 GREG HEFFLEY
From Costume Works

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#7 STREGA NONA
From Seeker of Happiness

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#8 THING 1 & THING 2
From Loving Life

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#9 SUPERMAN
From Costume Works

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#10 LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD & THE BIG BAD WOLF
From Valley & Co. Lifestyle

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#11 HAROLD AND THE PURPLE CRAYON
From Generation T

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#12 HOBBITS
From Sweet Little Ones

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#13 WHERE’S WALDO
From Make It & Love It

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#14 WILLY WONKA
From Beautiful Things

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#15 EFFIE TRINKET
From Coolest Homemade Costumes

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#16 PIPPI LONGSTOCKING
From Design Mom

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#17 THE PIGEON
From Simply Radiant

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#18 ALICE IN WONDERLAND
From Misha Lulu Blog

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#19 HICCUP AND TOOTHLESS
From Magic Wheelchair

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#20 PETER PAN’S SHADOW
From Tikkido

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