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 =


—– Brandon

Ardoria Site Updated

Ardoria Site Updated

Dec 04

Been really busy rebuilding the Website.

I tied it directly into the Etsy store to make things more efficient and easier to manage.

Click here to see how it’s coming along –> Ardoria Studio Site


—– Brandon

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving

Nov 28


Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

We got to spend time with family. We spent Thanksgiving at my mom and dad’s house, had a great turkey dinner, watched the parade, and watched old home movies my Grandfather made of all of us and my cousins. Everyone got a kick out of seeing everyone in their younger years and got a good laugh at how chubby of a baby I was. Yep, I was a bit of a Butterball.

As I get older, I’m realizing how important times like these are in a person’s life and how much I’m going to miss them someday. Days like I had yesterday are what memories are made of.

I hope everyone had as nice of a Thanksgiving as we did.


—– Brandon

Grinning Man

Grinning Man

Oct 26

Here’s a great example of a screw type nutcracker.

This one had no handle and had been applied to a piece of furniture or something. The hole for the screw had been plugged and dowels and screw holes were in the feet and body.

So after some time spent at the carving bench and some time spent on ye ol’ mini lathe, this guy is back to his original glory as a nutcracker.


Before - Notice the hole in the middle


Before - Screw hole plugged and dowels in the feet and coat


After Repairs - Front


After Repairs - Back


I really enjoy bringing a piece back to its original form and glory.



—– Brandon

Concrete and more concrete

Concrete and more concrete

Oct 08


Yep, it’s been a really rainy Summer over here in good ol’ Ohio.

It’s October and I’m just now finishing up a concrete project here on the property that I planned to have had done in June or early July at the latest. The weather was more of a challenge than I anticipated this year.

This all started with a concrete pad that the previous owners had installed. The pad had cracked diagonally, and a chunk of the cement had to be removed last year to access the clean out port to our septic system (yes, they poured the pad over one of the septic system clean outs… sigh). The pad was an eye sore as well as a safety hazard with the chunk of concrete removed.

So I decided this was going to be the year to resurface the pad. Yeah, any normal person would buy a couple bags of cement resurfacer and squeegee it over the cracks and stuff to pretty it up and call it done. Nope, not me. I decided I’m going with a European worn cobblestone look with a hidden removable trap door over the septic clean out.

As I’m selling the idea to my wife, she requested I expand the project to include the grassy area between the sidewalk and the pad (from 100 sq. ft. of hardscaping to 254 sq. ft.). That turned out to be a great idea. Not only does it eliminate some precarious mowing, but it also makes for a much more natural walking path to the pad. It also gave me an excuse to use my Quickrete Country Stone Pattern pathmaker along with the new European Block Brick ones to add some extra detail to the project. Awesome!

I used about 70 eighty pound bags of Quickrete Crack Resistant concrete, 2 Quickrete European Block Brick forms, 1 Quickrete Country Stone Pattern form, 1 gallon of Quickrete High Gloss Sealer, and most importantly a concrete mixer from Harbor Freight to pull this project off.

The following pictures show the before and after of my efforts.







I still need to put polymeric sand down to lock everything in place, but for the most part all the really hard work is done and this Summer long project is finally done.


—– Brandon


A Griffin

A Griffin

Sep 13


Here’s a very rare Griffin nutcracker that came into the shop recently for some repairs.

Some of you may recognize this piece from the 2010 Nutcracker Club Convention that was hosted by Mike and Linda Pickwick in Connecticut. Mike and Linda have a fantastic collection. This is one of the pieces I took a ton of pictures of at his house. So I was thrilled to have it here in my studio for repairs. Yes, I took even more pictures of it while it was here. I really like this piece.

The Griffin came in missing a right foot, had a piece missing from the shield, and was missing the left wingtip. There were also some older repairs on the tail, right rear leg, and around the pin that needed to be removed and fixed correctly.

This piece came out great and is flawless now.

Here are some before and after photos (be sure to click on the photos for a larger view):



Griffin Before Repairs




This piece was a lot of fun to work on and is really stunning in person.

Thanks again to Mike and Linda for sending this piece in and allowing me to make it perfect for them.


—– Brandon



2014 Geauga County Fair

2014 Geauga County Fair

Aug 31


Missy works for Great Lakes Outdoor Supply in Bainbridge and they have a booth (tent) out at the Geauga County Fair this year. She’s been out there all week so Dane and I decided to head on over there to pay her a visit. Well, Dane mainly went for the Turkey Leg. :-)

She got out a little early so we got to go do some Fair stuff. It was a great night for it and we had a good time.

Here are a few pictures I snapped while wandering around:



Dane and his Turkey Leg!!!!



Dane petting the nice calm horse at the barn.



Baby goat. This little guy was cute.



This guy would growl when you got near him.



Nice shot of Missy and Dane as we were leaving the Fairgrounds.