A few years ago, I made a lot of these little men, (they paid for my kids' Christmas for quite a few years) and this last summer my daughter asked if I would make one for her Christmas gift. I haven't made any for awhile because they are a lot of work and they are not a day project. My daughter came to visit for Thanksgiving and so I have been busy trying to get this Belsnickle finished so she could take it home with her.
So, what is a Belsnickle you ask? These little men originated in Germany and they take their name from
Pelz-Nickolaus which means "St. Nicholas in fur."
In the German communities, usually a neighborhood farmer would dress up with furs, pelts and perhaps a mask made of papier -mache and chicken wire. Then he'd make the rounds of the local houses rattling chains and throwing pebbles at the windows. He carried goodies for the children in his sack, but he also carried switches and threatened to smack any children who hadn't been good.
These are inspired from the German legend of Belsnickles.
He has his bundle of switches.
I make the faces from clay and sculpt and paint each face. I have not been able to make the same little man twice, but that is half the fun, deciding what kind of wrinkly face each one should have.
This one has quite the wrinkles. I have made some of them with the beard from horse hair, but this one's beard and hair was made from wool.
His coat is made from real leather and fur. (Don't worry it has been up cycled.)
His little boots are made from leather and eyelets.
His belt was made from a tiny buckle. His clothes from up cycled wool and sweaters.
I try and find little miniature toys and trinkets for him to carry.
Yes, they are a lot of work, but very rewarding when you get to see the finished project. I'm hoping my daughter will love them as much as I do and you know it isn't really Christmas without a Belsnickle in the house!