Thursday, October 22, 2009

Gnomish Research

Gnomes inhabit the realm of folklore for most people. Indeed, I couldn't tell you where I learned what I know of Gnomes: their red hats and fluffy beards, the affinity for gardens and mushrooms. How do we know these things? There is no how, we just know. Heard it somewhere, saw it somewhere, just knew.

For my birthday that just passed, my dear friends presented me with a book. This book is large, it has that musty, old book smell. The dust jacket is secured with tape. There is writing on some of the pages. It was a fine book in its day. Now, it's mine. My book of Gnomes.

In reading this book, I'm finding many things that I already knew, from somewhere. I'm also learning things about Gnomes that I didn't know. They are wonderful beings. I have told the story of how they came into my life, but I can't explain how thoroughly they've settled in and taken over. I love every minute of it.

"To my amazement, I have heard that there are people who have never seen a gnome. I can't help pitying these people. I am certain there must be something wrong with their eyesight."
~ Axel Munthe

Thursday, October 8, 2009

An Announcement about CPSIA and Garden Gnomes

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act is a great big law that puts a world of restrictions on children's toys. These restrictions are on materials, decorations, all the components that make up a thing, to reduce the exposure children have to dangerous substances like lead and phthalates. The legislation requires exhaustive and expensive testing of children’s products and specific labeling rules. What it really boils down to is that a plethora of small businesses will go out of business. The law was not designed with the handcrafter in mind. But, that's not why I'm here.

I'm here today to tell you that there is a reason why I say on every listing that my Gnomes are not intended for children under 12 years old. My items are not made for children. This should be obvious in Spirit Dolls and japa mala, but Garden Gnomes are cute, and they're the right size for little hands. Even so, they are not made for children.

My Gnomes are made for the adult collector. They are made sturdy, but I cannot promise they would hold up to rigorous play. They are meant as decorations, not toys. I have never crocheted something intended for children, and I still don't.

I am using materials that are currently exempt from CPSIA testing. If a Gnome gets in the hands of a child, you can be assured that the dangerous materials that CPSIA is trying to guard against are not a part of my Gnomes. However, they do contain small parts, as in the polybeads I use for weight. This product is intended to be used for decorative items only (as stated on the bag by the manufacturer), and that is what I use them for.

Garden Gnomes may be cute and fun, but they are not toys, and were never intended to be toys. My Gnomes are not tested for lead and phthalates, are not labeled as toys, and do contain small parts not suitable for children. Please treat your Gnomes as decorative soft sculpture items. This is how I intend them, this is what I am thinking when I make them. Please keep this in mind when ordering.

Thank you.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Complete Gnomish Goodness

Among the many large special orders I've been working on, I fit in one very special Gnome. I can honestly say I've never fretted so much about a Gnome before!

A friend wanted a whole set: that is Gnome and Cape of Warmth and Gnomish Travel Basket. I told her she has three colors to pick: for Gnome clothes, cape, and basket. She simply answered with "I like jewel tones, surprise me!" Her husband added that she liked teal. Gah!

First, I had to look up exactly what a jewel tone is. It seems simple enough, but when you have to find yarn in such colors, it's much less simple. Then, I hit my stash. I had a lovely teal, and a brilliant purple, and a bright blue. While they each looked good with one other, all three of them were just too brilliant.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew there was a variegated yarn in colors such as teal and blue and purple and magenta. I knew, because I had learned to crochet with it so many years ago. To my great relief, the brand of yarn that I primarily use still makes it. And, it's called "gemstone." How perfect! And the teal looks fabulous with it.

Check out this perfect little jewel toned Gnome.

Since I had found the perfect color for the Gnome clothes (and, I must say, I love working with variegated yarn. I love the coordinating colors), and another color, I still needed a third. I needed something to break up the rich saturation of the colors I had already chosen, something that wouldn't overwhelm the eye with brilliance, but also wouldn't be so bland that it looked dull in comparison. I was coming up short.

I polled the Etsy forums for suggestions. Most of my responses came from jewelers, who work with jewel tones all the time! The resounding suggestion was gold. It's still a bright color, but some how it doesn't overpower jewel tones, nor is it overpowered by them. And, to my great happiness, my preferred brand of yarn also makes a color (somewhere between yellow and mustard, with maybe a bit of orange thrown in) that they call gold. And it was the perfect shade in the yellow family to match with my variegated jewel colors and teal.

The last question was: which colors go where? I was really set on having the Gnome clothes in the variegated yarn, and it worked well with the maroon/burgundy hat. I thought the gold might be too bright to be a basket. So, that was that.

A gold Cape of Warmth works really great against those bright jewel colors of the Gnomes clothes, doesn't it?

And, here is the little bejeweled Gnome in his rich, teal basket, with coordinating yellow buttons!

I think I fretted so much about this really because I didn't want to pick something that she wouldn't like. One friend commented that she'd really like anything, but that didn't help me quell my worry! Thanks to all the wonderful Etsians (both from the forums and elsewhere) who helped me with that third, elusive color! I love how they turned out. I think that's a smartly-dressed Gnome with a smart cape and a cozy basket!

Contact me to order a 3 piece Gnome set of your very own! I hope you can see how much thought goes into my process and how I strive to make a Gnome you will love!