Monday, December 15, 2008

Heartland Folk Holidays

Travel and a change of scene often brings new images and ideas to life and experience.

There are many places in the world where making and selling holiday ornaments are a big event, lots of tradition and skill in making them by hand.

Do you have family ornaments and decorations that remind you of times past, people and places where you've traveled? I have friends who always bring home an ornament or decoration from every trip, to remember and commemorate them. I do that sometimes, when I remember to look for the ornament during the trip.

I especially like handmade ornaments, particularly those with a traditional and folk art feeling.

Things that are carved, stitched or otherwise hand created. Have you seen some of the straw ornaments, braided with colorful yarn hangers? Those type of decorations are my favorite. Or crocheted snowflakes, all stiffened with glue and delicately turning on their hangers.

So I started this week casting some designs in plaster, to give as gifts and to list in the Etsy shop. I don't think of them as beads, they're much too large, I believe, to be used for jewelry, at 4" long. But they are fun for hanging on the tree or a wreath, or putting on a garland. Or on a magnet stuck to the refrigerator with a favorite holiday card underneath.

They are all hand painted. I wanted to make them look worn and vintage, a little rough in the painting and very unique so that each one is special.

Father Christmas, or Saint Nickolas. Santa Claus. Many traditions, different in parts of the world, the familiar standards re-interpreted to tell their own special holiday story, as the days of the year wind down to the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice, when the days start to lengthen again in anticipation of the new year.

They have little brass wire hangers embedded in them so they can have a pretty ribbon or beaded chain attached to them. Sparkly and quaint in the light of a candle, decorating the room in the feeling of the holidays.

These little mittens and stockings can easily be customized with a name, for a Christmas gift, with the year written on the back - I have plans to make several for my family. If you'd like one customized for you, let me know - but it has to be a short name, there's not a lot of space on the little ornament!

What's your favorite kind of decoration, do you prefer the shiny round glass, the silvery tinsel? Or do you like the satin sheen and the pearly glow?

Or like me, do you like the quaint, folksy old fashioned style of ornament?

It's an icy morning here, with more predicted today. The winter winds are blowing hard, there's a good chance of snow.


EmandaJ said...

Good Morning Lynn!
We don't decorate a tree at our tiny house: no kids, two dogs, clutter, clutter, clutter. But when I was a child we alwas made a big deal of decorating the tree. We'd put on the same wonderful Christmas album and sing along while dressing the tree.

Mom saved all the old ornaments, our handmade ones and there were a few special decorations that were set out. One was the crochet'd soft white receiving blanket that was placed on a table and gently rumpled to resemble snow. On that we would place the creche and a tall golden madonna made of stiffened draped cloth and lace. Mom and dad have downsized quite a bit, giving my brother most of the ornaments, but she still has the blanket, the creche and the Madonna.

Recently I purchase a Russian handcarved Father Christmas/Bishop St. Nicklaus handpainted with exquisite detail. (I think I'll have to photograph it and put it up on my blog.) I bought it as a gift for my little godson but cannot part with it.

Gaea said...

Oh! They are dreamy and sweet! I LOVE the mittens! I'm sure your wintery weather is old hat, but I long for some cozy cold. We just had a rain storm last night that brought colder temps and snow to our mountains. It is really making me feel the holiday spirit! My particular favorite ornaments are glass and look old. Drop shapes and stars are always fun. I wish I had some of my Grandmothers ornaments... she was the holiday personified for me.

LLYYNN said...

Wow, your stories are heartwarming and very sweet, thanks so much for sharing them!

I wish I had a shape of a nutcracker this same size that I could cast in plaster and paint. That particular image really speaks to me. The european designs (especially russian or german) are so beautifully made and decorated.

I also think it would be nice to make some ornaments out of punched tin, maybe some stars and traditional shapes.

I love that story about the fluffy blanket being put down and rumpled to make the snow!

Cindy Gimbrone said...

Love the ornaments, Lynn! They have a lovely antique/Old World flavor. Beautiful as always!