The tradition of giving gifts during the holiday season is one of the most enduring aspects of this unique and special time of the year. Those of us living in America associate this practice with the Jolly Old Man himself, Santa Claus. Our memories are filled with the visions of Santa that we have carried with us since we were small. The jolly old fellow with a flowing white beard, red suit and a bag of gifts for all good boys and girls is the image that brings warmth to our hearts and smiles to our faces. Santa is the joy and happiness of our Christmas' past as well as the hope and dreams of our future Christmas'. Santa is uniquely American, he, Mrs. Claus, the elves, and the reindeer form our concept of the Holiday Gift Giver. Other countries and cultures have their own images of this special person. The Right Jolly Old Elf has been around in one guise or another for centuries. Although each Holiday Visitor looks different, the qualities they possess and the impact they have upon the peoples of the world affirms what we have known all along. Holiday Visitors are the embodiment of the things we value in ourselves. They are different versions of the same ideals; the collective conscience of the world. The differences in the style and color of dress, method of travel, date of arrival, ethnic and gender representations, and overall appearance reflect the diversity of the world.
Welcome to the World of Whittler's Hollow Holiday Visitors.
Whittler's Hollow Creations are a unique selection of hand carved items from the studio of T. Nelson Robertson Jr. Each sculpture is a one of a kind representation of the artist's vision.
The "Holiday Visitors" series is a treasury of carvings crafted from native woods. The collection includes the artist's renditions of Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, and other holiday visitors from around the world. Each piece is hand carved, hand painted, and numbered by the artist.
The individuality of each figure is a combination of the artist's vision and the unique shape of each piece of wood. T. Nelson uses primarily cypress for this collection. Each figure is carved from a single piece. The cypress knees grow from the root system of the cypress tree and protrude above the water. The knees are gathered during specific times of the year in Louisiana and Florida. The knees must be steamed within 48 hours of harvest to remove the bark. If more time elapses, the bark will not release and the knee will not take on the smooth appearance that characterizes the collection. The boiled wood is then soaked for two days in a special solution known only to a few individuals and is then rinsed with water. The wood is scrubbed and allowed to dry for four to six weeks. The wood must be stored in a cool dry place and cannot be carved until it stabilizes. The greatest challenge is finding the right cypress knee for a particular project. The artist prefers to go into the swamp himself, gathering only the ones he needs.
After the knees are ready, the "fun" part begins. Each cypress knee has a "Holiday Visitor" waiting inside. T. Nelson must see "the little person in the wood". This process is hard to explain but is best compared to seeing visions in the clouds. A person can't describe how they visualize each cloud but is obvious to them what they see. The same process applies to carving. It has been said many times but it remains true, "You just carve away everything that doesn't look like a little person." The figure in the wood sometimes can be seen immediately, at other times the piece must be studied from every possible angle, perhaps for minutes, hours or sometimes days. When it is visualized, the carving process begins. The amount of detail dictates the length of time it takes to complete a figure. The time varies from hours, for a small carving , to days for the larger more elaborate pieces, depending upon what the artist sees.
After the carving process is completed, artist T Nelson (Tom) Robertson begins hand painting each piece. It actually takes longer to paint and seal the piece than to carve it. Paints are individually blended and applied in a unique sequence. Each color is added separately and must dry before the next layer is added. The colors are built up to achieve the desired tint. This process allows the beauty of the wood to show through. The figure is then sealed with natural wax and hand rubbed for additional protection. To maintain its beauty a carving should be polished occasionally with a soft cloth.
It takes an average of eight hours to complete a small carving but the joy is complete when the "Holiday Visitor" appears, ready to delight the collector for years to come.