Summerlin resident uses pumpkins as canvas for works of art

Bryan Yeager has had a scary dream or two, but that’s OK. They have provided plenty of fodder for the jack-o’-lanterns he crafts.

Yeager, a Summerlin resident and a financial adviser by day, takes carving jack-o’-lanterns to a new level. These are not cut-out jack-o’-lanterns but rather intricate, 3-D-looking ones made of foam with gradated shading.

He is set to have a booth at the Summerlin Art Festival, slated from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Summerlin Centre Community Park, 1800 S. Town Center Drive. Admission is free.

He crafts jack-o’-lanterns with varying degrees of thickness to let out different amounts of light.

"I saw one on the Internet, and I went, ‘Wow, what a different way to do it,’ " he said.

He began experimenting and soon had his first piece. Yeager now adds paint and sands the piece until it resembles something more like a painting than a mere Halloween ornament.

"Before, I was just hacking and slashing," he said. "These are pieces of art."

It all began when Yeager was 10. That’s when he decided to take the scary dreams he’d had all his life and turn them into a profit by carving jack-o’-lanterns. He sat outside a Safeway store that once was near where Arizona Charlie’s Decatur is now and offered to carve a pumpkin of store patrons. He’d have the jack-o’-lantern finished by the time they were done shopping. He got $5 or $10 for each one, "or $15 if they gave me a nice tip," he said.

Flash-forward to when he was raising his own family, and he became known as the coolest dad on the block with his carved pumpkins.

Initially, he carved jack-o’-lanterns for pleasure, giving them as gifts. In 2010, he decided to sell them and had a booth at the Summerlin Art Festival, where he displayed 20 and sold 15 but told buyers they had to wait to pick up their purchase so he’d have examples on hand. His display led to 30 commissioned pumpkins for companies that wanted their logo on a scary pumpkin.

This year, he’ll offer the more sophisticated 3-D ones for the first time, starting at $75.

It will be a tad tough to part with them, he admitted.

"I love them all but for different reasons," he said.

But real pumpkins wilt and die.

That’s a plus, said Wayne Higdon, who has one of Yeager’s pumpkins sitting atop the microwave in his office. It sports the name of his business, Dad’s Garage, as well as a scary rat on two legs and an exaggerated hot rod.

"I can bring it out and use it every year," he said.

With today’s artificial ones, about $8 each at craft stores off season, his creations last year-round.

Yeager crafts the jack-o’-lanterns at the wet bar in his home. He uses about $200 worth of tools, including a drill, a hot knife and X-Acto knives. A pool towel covers the chair that holds the unfinished piece.

Patterns offer typical Halloween fodder such as gargoyles, a pirate skeleton or a haunted house.

Some of his pumpkins take as long as 15 hours to create. A small bulb is added to light them up.

Dr. Robert Thalgott ordered 10 jack-o’-lanterns from Yeager last year.

"He carved several different designs that were unique and fun," he said. "He did an awesome job."

One of those jack-o’-lanterns stayed at the office, to the delight of patients and the office staff. The latter said it didn’t have to clean up a mushy mess like with real ones.

Tori McGinn ordered one for her husband, Kevin. They are both from Colorado.

"I had him (Yeager) carve a Denver Broncos one," she said. "It had the horse head (logo) and everything. My husband just loved it."

Yeager said dreams can be scary, but jack-o’-lanterns are nothing but fun.

Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at jhogan@viewnews.com or 387-2949.

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