A rare piece…

A rare piece…

Mar 14

 

Here is a rare Swiss piece I was lucky to find on Ebay back in December of 2013.

gnome_1 gnome_2

As you can see it had some extensive damage. Most of the base was missing and it had a hole drilled in the top of the head. It also had some damage on the face, especially the nose.

I wanted to have the piece fully restored for my wife’s birthday at the end of February. Unfortunately the weather here in Ohio did not cooperate and I had to give it to her partially finished.

The weather has finally broke a little and I was able to get it done this week. Missy is very happy with it and it is going in our private collection.

Be sure to click on the pictures for a bigger view:

Gnome_1_afterGnome_2_afterGnome_3_afterGnome_4_after

Thanks for looking,

—– Brandon

An Addendum

An Addendum

Feb 21

 

Addendum to The Art & Character of Nutcrackers

 

It’s official, the Addendum to The Art & Character of Nutcrackers is available for purchase from the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum:

Click here to buy the Addendum to The Art & Character of Nutcrackers

Be sure to look for my original pieces featured on pages 106 and 110.

There’s also mention of me on page 5 for the repair work I did on a 16th century French piece for the museum a few years ago. Unfortunately, the publisher misspelled my name as “Benard Etto”. So here’s a link to the repair work that proves it’s me:

Completed 1500’s Nutcracker

Also if you don’t yet already have Arlene’s first book (The Art & Character of Nutcrackers) it’s available in the store as well.

I actually own 2 copies of each of these books. One is kept pristine while the other is used as reference. That way I don’t get all worried about having to take it out to the shop if I need to.

Arlene Wagner’s first book was a key element in getting me started in creating and repairing nutcrackers. Having my work featured in her new book is a huge honor for me. So if you get the chance, be sure to pick up a copy (or two). It’s a great book and a must have for any collector.

 

—- Brandon

 

Wings, wings, and more wings

Wings, wings, and more wings

Feb 01

It’s been a really cold and snowy weekend over here in Ohio.

It’s perfect weather to hunker down, fire up the heaters in the shop, and carve carve carve!

My wife and I team up to make what we call “Batwing Clocks”. I carve and attach bat wings to a traditional mantle clock, then my wife paints them in Halloween and Disney Haunted Mansion themes.

Here are a couple pictures of what goes into making these:

Bat Wing Clock

Bat wing drawn on Basswood and ready to be carved.

 

Bat Wing Clock

My creative clamping technique. Lots of rubber bands.

 

Bat Wing Clock

The wings are doweled and glued permanently in place. Gorilla glue foams as it dries.

 

Bat Wing Clock

My busy carving bench with more wings in process and other projects lying around.

 

Here are links to some of the clocks Missy has sold previously and one available now for purchase:

 

Haunted Mansion Themed Batwing Clock

Halloween Themed Batwing Clock

Halloween Moon and Owl Batwing Clock (avalable)

 

As always, thanks for looking!

 

—– Brandon

 

 

 

Santa?…..Gnome?

Santa?…..Gnome?

Jan 25

Here’s another great figural nutcracker I picked up that I gave to my wife for Christmas.

These seem to get classified as a gnome and sometimes as Santa. Since this one was a Christmas gift, it’s a Santa in our house. :-)

As you can see in the photos, he had some condition issues. The most obvious was a chunk missing from the bottom of his beard. He also had some small chips here and there, but was generally in really good shape.

The restoration went very well and the new finish really shows off the carved details.

Before

Santa Figural Nutcracker Restoration

Santa Figural Nutcracker Restoration

 

After

after_1

Santa Figural Nutcracker Restoration

 

Thanks for looking.

Stay tuned, more great pieces are on the way!

—– Brandon

Argh! There be Pirates…

Argh! There be Pirates…

Jan 17

Here’s a great example of a figural Pirate nutcracker.

Picked him up on Ebay. He had some condition issues (chipped lip, chipped handle, and various dings in the face). Looks like he was dropped or the family dog got to it and carried it around in its mouth a little.

I originally bought this one to fix up and sell, but the wife fell in love with it after it was done so looks like he’s going in our collection. Oh darn! :-)

I really do like how this one came out. The darker stain really makes this a better piece.

See the before and after photos below:

before_2Before

Pirate Figural Nutcracker

Before Repairs – Close up of the face

Pirate Figural Nutcracker

Before Repairs – Right side showing handle damage

before_2

Pirate Figural Nutcracker

Before Repairs – Left Side

 

After

Pirate Figural Nutcracker

after_2

after_3

after_4

 

Stay tuned, more great pieces to come!

—– Brandon

 

Gone to the Dogs

Gone to the Dogs

Jan 10

 

Hope everyone had a great Christmas and New Years!

We had a great Christmas and I have big plans for 2015. Not spoiling the surprise or cursing myself by letting the cat out of the bag too soon. though. So you’ll have to stay tuned as things progress. :-)

In the meantime, here’s a great piece we just added to our personal collection. We bought this piece some time ago off of ebay. We got it pretty reasonable because it was damaged.

I was fortunate  recently to have time to concentrate on fixing its ears, put a new finish on it, and make a custom base for it. See my previous Blog post “It’s all about the base” to see how the base was made. Since I was able to secretly get everything done before Christmas, I wrapped it and surprised Missy by adding it to her pile of Christmas gifts this year.

As always, be sure to click on the photos for a larger up close view of them.

 

Black Forest Nutcracker - Dog

 

Carved Wood Figural Dog Nutcracker

 

Carved Wood Figural Dog Nutcracker

 

Ebay has been good to me lately, so stay tuned for more great pieces!

—– Brandon

 

It’s all about the base… bout the base…

It’s all about the base… bout the base…

Dec 14

All my Nutcracker bases are hand made and hand fitted to each piece. Bases are very important. They not only allow you to display your nutcracker proudly, but safely as well.

The ebay elves have been really really good to me lately so I have a few new pieces being added to the collection and coming up for sale soon that need bases made. I can’t show the new pieces yet because all are in process of being restored, but I can show the work that goes into creating the custom bases I make.

The wooden base part is first cut out on the band saw. I now have templates made from thinner wood so I don’t have to steal a base from our nutcracker collection (like you see in the picture) every time I need to trace and cut a new one. The bases below are already cut out and ready to be ground to shape. I use an angle grinder with a 60 grit flapwheel to make short work of hand shaping each base so they are contoured and look worn.

*Note – The nutcracker bases pictured are being made from Black Walnut because that’s what I had on hand. Any 1/2 inch thick wood will work.

 

Nutcracker Stand - Ready for grinding

 

Here’s a picture of the bases after they’ve been ground to shape and sanded smooth.

Nutcracker Stand - Shaped and sanded smooth.

 

Every nutcracker presents its own challenges regarding how the wire needs to be shaped and where it’s going to support the nutcracker. Some can wrap around while others have to be made to fit up under the chin by slipping in from the back. The one I’m making here will slip in the back and support the piece under the chin.

Nutcracker Stand - Wire shaped

 

Here’s a picture of the nutcracker stand assembled and waiting for final sanding. Holes are drilled and the shaped wire is simply epoxied into the base. When I fit everything, I make sure the nutcracker will rest about 1/4 inch above the base. That keeps the center of gravity low and reduces the risk of the piece being easily knocked over. The globs of epoxy around the wire are sanded flat once it’s cured and hard enough to sand.

Nutcracker Stand - Assembled

 

Here’s the final shot of the stand all painted and drying on the bench. I simply use flat black spray paint. I usually shoot it once, sand it with 400 grit, and shoot it again. That smooths out some of the grain and makes for a durable finish.

Nutcracker Stand - Painted

So there you have it. That’s how I make the custom bases for the nutcrackers in my collection and for the ones I sell.

 

—– Brandon

 

Museums to Visit at Christmas Time

Museums to Visit at Christmas Time

Dec 10

 

The Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum made the top 5 museums to visit at Christmas time list over at Museum Diary.

 

Here’s the excerpt from the Museum Diary site:

“The Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum shows over 6,000 nutcrackers dating back to Roman times.  There are many types of nutcrackers made of many different materials, from stone to fragile ivory.  Not only antique nutcrackers are shown, but also the popular wooden toy soldiers from Germany.  Karl, [their] 6 foot museum beer drinking museum ambassador, was carved in Oberammergau by the late Karl Rappl.”  The museum also has a dedicated website for children.

 

Link to article =  http://museumdiary.com/2014/12/05/top-5-museums-to-visit-at-christmas-time/

 

—– Brandon