Sunday, May 22, 2011

Garden Gnomes

Garden gnomes are more than just decoration; many believe they are beings in their own secret society. Full of learned knowledge and helpfulness, these tiny statues adorn many gardens. Most you see are replica gnomes which are easy to mass produce and cheap; costing no more than a handful of dollars. True gnomes today are Kimmel Gnomes and cost a few hundred dollars and take two weeks to make each individual one. No production line, no factory line; each one handmade with care.
The first German garden gnome was made in the 1800's in Graeferoda, Thuringia, Germany. The first pair to start making them in any quantity were Philipp Griebel and August Heissner; Heissner Gnomes being the most well known worldwide. They were begun right around 1872, and magnificent in design. Thuringia became known as the Gnome capital of Europe.
Garden gnome lore has it that it is good luck to place a gnome in the home or garden. They help with chores, have an acute understanding of the Cosmos, and have the ability to predict and learn from the future.

Gnomes are around 12-15 centimeters tall and are in proportion. They are made with clay/terra cotta and usually have bright colors. They are representative to their culture, so that a gnome made in China will appear Chinese. The male gnomes weigh 300 grams; women 150-175 grams. The feet of a gnome are nearly pigeon toed said to give them added speed throughout the forest. Long beards turn gray before their hair does. They live in cohabitation with trees, animals and plants so they have insight into the spirits of woodland creatures.
Garden gnome culture is rampant. Where they may be distasteful yard items in America, they are part of success for Europe. Yards showing 5 or so gnomes show that the owners have the over $1200 to throw away on clay yard accessories. There is even a Gnome reserve and Museum in Devonshire, England. And last, but certainly not least in the world of Gnomes, Gnome Day 2002 was celebrated June 21st. The celebration was in over a dozen countries. There are now a multitude of websites devoted to the little smiley creatures and they have produced the "Gnomesday Book". Truly what Griebel and Heissner must have had in mind. But, as like all things, even history rich gnomes are getting a 21st century makeover. (Extreme Gnome Makeover, if you will) Today gnomes are designed not holding fishing poles or lanterns, but cell phones and laptops.

If you'd like more information on Garden Gnomes:
Gnome & Garden: A Gnovelty Kit by Marcus Mennes, Hardcover, 64 pages, Quirk Books, Kit Edition, August 30, 2004, ISBN 1594740100
Gnomes by Will Huygen and Rien Poortyliet, Hardcover, 212 pages, Harry N Abrams, 20th Anniversary Edition, May 1 1977, ISBN 0810909650
Secrets of the Gnomes by Will Huygen and Rien Poortyliet, Hardcover, Harry N Abrams, June 1, 1987, ISBN 0810916142
The Complete Book of the Gnome: All You'll Ever Need or Want to Know by Martin Cornwall, London, AA Publishing, 1997 Large Hardcover. ISBN 0749507098.


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