Kathy, just like me, has a SCHNAUZER MINDSET, and she also happens to be a Master on bringing the Christmas spirit down to every atom around her!
This is the second year she is bringing to life an entire village populated with incredible amount of Schnauzer. This time she added some features to her earlier project and I believe that the entire story must be shared asevery bit of it is just too appropriate while Christmas time!
Kathy Gabert Thom and her husband have owned miniature schnauzers for 35 years and have been a member of their local breed club in Arizona, USA for the last 20 years, serving on the board of directors, show chairman and other club duties over the years. This is the 5th year they have hosted the clubs Christmas party, and again she wanted to create a little something different when decorating ….A *special surprise, and Schnauzer Christmas village idea was born!
(PART 1, as published in my blog in 2016)
By Kathy Gabert Thom
After doing a little research on the Pinterest web site for ideas and how to make the landscaping, I decided on a winter ski village theme, the log cabin buildings, skating rink, marshmallow roast pieces were given to me from a friend, the other houses I already had. From there, the village took on a life of its own and literally took over my kitchen table and village set up space, for 6-7 weeks.
The ski hill, side boulders and other platforms are made from Styrofoam, crumpled newspaper and plaster cloth (much like paper-mache’ but easier to work with) then painted. The ski lifts are made of Styrofoam, PVC pipe, wooden buttons and thin cable rope. Lift chairs and benches are made of small pop-cycle sticks. The Merry-go-round, much of the same materials, with the addition of a battery operated turn table under it-along with lots of battery operated copper wire string lights. 2 single spot lights use coin batteries, one as a street light shinning on the skating rink, the other for “Rudolph’s” red nose. Each piece took about a week to create. The hardest part was figuring out how to make it, id never done anything quite like this before and making it work in the space available. It measures nearly 12 ft long (3 meters) and 2 1/2 ft deep (75 cm) It’s up high (5 feet/ 1 1/2 meters) on a shelf in our family room. Built on a slight incline, leaning forward, so it can easily be seen from below. For the back drop, I printed snow covered mountains from the computer and attached them to blue wrapping paper, with cut out paper snow flakes and full moon.
Next…the dogs…id never worked with clay before and consider myself more of an arts n crafts person vs artist. From prior experience in making schnauzer heads with fondant frosting for cupcakes, I decided to try and make a similar mold from silicon putty, of an old schnauzer Christmas ornaments head. Stage one was completed and now I had to figure out how to add a body. With a few trial and error attempts, I came up with an acceptable dog and with each, I got a little better at making them. 18 in all I placed through out the village, each one slightly different from the next-and a few “naughty” dogs were added just for fun! Each dog took 2 days from start to finish, with drying time, sanding and painting. After that, I added sleds (made from pop-cycle sticks) clay snow saucers and all the extras to each dog.
The houses, trees and people are a mix of Lemax, Santa’s workshop and dept 56. The schnauzer tree is Danbury mint collectable I bought 12 years ago. My friend and I spent an entire evening hot gluing all the Christmas lights to each building and some of the trees.Once everything was completed, it took 2-3 days to put the village together on the shelf and make it look just right. It looks almost magical at night, with all the lights on. I can just picture myself, joining in on all the schnauzer fun!
Part 2 (the additions 2017)
New addition to my Schnauzer-ville Christmas village. The question was…What to add that would complete last year’s winter ski village? After several sketches on paper, my vision came to light. A mountain full of trees, homes, a few climbers and a working train with tunnel. It took 2 weeks to create the mountain, from Styrofoam, newspaper and plaster cloth. My experience from last yr building the ski hill made it easier this time around. I created 6 pieces that fit together like a puzzle The design would also make it easier to store after the holidays. Then painted in shades of gray, browns and white. Trees and buildings were added to complete the scene. I had to re-work the tunnel height inside, the first time through the train de-railed inside the mountain- haha.
Next, people and dogs. The climbers were a problem, I couldn’t find anything available to purchase, so I had to make them, id never made people before and was a challenge. I started with some wire figures and added the clay. Each took 2-3 days to finally get the action/look I needed for my scene. For a bit of whimsey, I added a tiny schnauzer to the backpack of one of the climbers, its head is the size of a “pea.” A sled-dog was added to the trail..and then a Ram on the edge of the mountain for a touch of wild-life.
The train had to be special, carrying dogs and Christmas trees with lights. i spent one week creating just the right scene for that
More dogs were added one by one. Barbara Fraile’s sculptures over the last year were the inspiration to many of my new dogs this year, moving in “action” thank you Barbara!
The entire left side took 5-6 weeks to complete and another 2 days to add the other side from last year.. The village is 12 ft long (3 meters) 3 feet deep ( 1 meter) and 3 feet tall (1 meter) Completed, 102 trees, 42 people and 51 dogs. The train and merry-go-round are functional