Saturday, October 11, 2008

Celebrating Christmas Traditions in Folk Art

The Wax "Ornie"
Whether it be a lovingly hand stitched sampler or an intricate piece of detailed fraktur work, folk art is a rich part of our culture and it celebrates our heritage. Folk art is defined as art which has been crafted by everyday folks with out a formal art training but whose unique styles and craftsmanship have been passed down through the generations. Take for example a Baltimore album style quilt with all of its detailed appliqué work or the hex signs that are commonly found on barns around Lancaster County Pennsylvania. The work of those common folks has become an earmark of their culture and time. As folk artisans of today, many of us craft traditional pieces that are steeped deeply in our own cultural history, only we add our own artistic interpretations to our work, thus carrying on the tradition of “folk” art.

One tradition that many folk artisans of today still create is the wax ornament. Molding and carving beeswax has its roots running deep into Germany.
We have found beeswax ornaments in German museums that are well over 350 years old! At Christmas time, these wax ornaments were carefully crafted by German housewives by pouring melted beeswax into wooden cookie molds carved from fruitwood. These elaborate carvings usually depicted scenes of St. Nicholas, animals, birds, guild workers and pastoral/county living. Many times the wax was then elaborately painted and further embellished by carving or adding other small wax pieces.

When the first wave of German immigrants came to America during the early 18th century, they brought with them their prized cookie and confection molds and the tradition of beeswax ornaments soon became steeped in our own culture and a cornerstone of our early Christmas traditions.
During the nineteenth century, wax ornaments were sold by German toy manufacturers and were a popular Victorian find in most American homes. Usually forms of full bodied angels, Belscnickles or country folk were the most popular. These antique wax ornaments are very rare finds today.


rustybuttons said...

I am so taken in by this website, just beatiful and nostalgic, I love the music effects, such a pleasant experience here. You people are such good artists even down to your website.

I am an ameture primitive doll maker, still gathering ideas for many different materials, go to the thrift store alot and dont mind using even twigs for features are arms & legs.

Brenda (Rusty Creek Primitives) said...

Thank you Rusty Buttons! Mare has worked hard getting this blog together.

Do you have a blog?

mary said...

Hi there Rusty Buttons!

Thank you for your kind words and your compliments..this blog has been a long time in the works and we are glad you find it so nice and inviting.