As I’ve written before, in fact it’s my most popular blog post, I come from a Pennsylvania Dutch family. Our Pennsylvania Dutch traditions were especially apparent during the holidays.
In my creative life I’ve often looked back on these traditions for cues and inspiration. In fact, my bird carving began with a quest to be true to my heritage.
This season I find myself exploring glitter houses- those glitter covered little houses and churches that we associate with our grandparents’ Christmases. It turns out that these houses owe their existence to a Pennsylvania Dutch tradition — the Putz.
My grandparents Putz was simple — a lit nativity scene across the mantel. Though I’ve no on to ask, I suspect that my great grandparents (or their parents) still assembled a more extensive Putz consisting of not only the nativity scene, but farm and village scenes complete with homes, barns and chalkware animals and characters.
Over the last two days, after a couple weeks of research, I began to deconstruct a handful of glitter houses to design and build one of my own.
I’ve had several trials and a few failures, but I’ve completed to first — a simple representation of my house (and the little bird studio) with good results.
I find the largest challenge, like with any new medium, is finding my own vocabulary of tools and materials to interpret what I see. What kinds of glitter? How do I color walls? How do I best represent textures like brick, siding and roofs? What kinds of peripheral objects make sense and work together? What architectural details need to be simplified or eliminated?
I present the first project. There will be more. My problem, now, is cleaning up the glitter all over my studio so I have and area clean enough to paint in.
Have a great holiday!