Thursday, August 14, 2008


In 1993 my cousin Shirlee and I, along with several of her friends, got together once a week to do some crafts. One of our first discoveries were these darling gnomes that we purchased at a local craft store. They were resin figures made out of pecan shells by Wood World, Inc. of Marion, Virginia, a company now out of business. They came unpainted and it was our job to paint them.

Periodically through the ensuing years Shirlee and I tried to find a new source for this type of figure, but that was not to be. I made enough to give each of my children's families a set for Christmas, and I kept a set for myself. When I decided I wanted to use them in HOT COFFEE & COOL JAZZ I had to e-mail the troops to gather enough for a showing! Cousin Shirlee, who now lives in North Carolina, dug in her storage container in the back yard to find three gnomes that she photographed in her garden. She made quite a dramatic setting, don't you think?

This set above is obviously patterned after the biblical Wise Men, although I'm sure the original weren't so gnome-like. I loved doing these. They are actually candlestick holders. The hats come off and a candle is to be set in the hole. No one ever used them that way, however, because no one wanted to take a chance with the wax running down, and possibly ruining, the paint job. They are cute even without candles!

The gnomes above are from a set I gave to one of my daughters. She had just moved and luckily knew exactly which box her gnomes were in. I took this picture as a close-up (cutting off the tall hats) so the facial features would show more clearly. It was great fun making them come to life as we painted. These two gnomes actually had names associated with them: The guy in green is "Nelvin" and the tall cream-colored fellow is "Winchester."

And the Santa Claus candlesticks are the ones I kept for myself. Mrs. Santa is holding a sign that says, "The Fat Man is Coming." Every Christmas these two little gnome Santas come out from their box residence and help decorate our little apartment. And when I see them I am reminded of all those hours we spent making them.

After the resin figurines were no longer available, we had to switch to plaster of paris figurines, which also ended up pleasing us but not in the same way the gnomes did. Shirlee and I agree that had we known the company was shutting down, we would have figured out a way to buy all their gnome stock. It is probably just as well that we didn't, because it would surely seem unseemly now to have two old ladies with trifocals and arthritic fingers spending their final days tending to gnomes!

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