May 30, 2008

Embroidery from a Nanologist' Perspective

Yes, that's a word. Nanologist is a person who is a Gnome collector.

I happened upon these delightful hand-embroidered Gnome's when looking at Etsy. The artist calls her shop "Paintingpixie". Brandy Carsten, from Colorado, USA, says "I picked my name by mixing my love for traditional art and the magical world of fay."

Before studying Brandy's art , I discovered I was weak on the little Gnome facts. Prior to this, I always pictured the Travelocity gnome as he is playfully humming his way along in what he thinks is a comfortable river and suddenly finds himself falling off the edge of the earth.........(so like my

This is what I learned, there seems to be a general agreement regarding the following things about gnomes:

1. A gnomes life span is about 400 years.
2. When a gnome is about 200 years old, they begin to think of marriage.
3. Birth of gnomes always involves twins.
4. Male gnomes indulge in pipe smoking.
5. Gnomes are 7 times stronger than a man.

Brandy says that she made her first gnome doll for her son when he was small. "It was soft, filled with carded wool and had a simple embroidered face. I was highly influenced by Waldorf traditions; simple in design and natural materials. This is why I leave the faces blank, it leaves the emotion of the doll play open. "

"As far as my embroidery history, I simply became curious and tried a couple of stitches until they looked right with the exception of the French knot which I had to look up to see how to make a proper one. "

"I let the seasons and the natural world around me influence the designs of my embroidery. I embroider intuitively- meaning I don't usually have a design plan, it just unfolds with each stitch. I have a couple of Rocky Mountain Flower guides for inspiration and reference that I use upon occasion."

"The Mushroom Cap Gnomes are truly my favorite of my designs so far. It took me quite a while to create the right shape for the cap. "

"Along with embroidery and doll making I have recently taught myself to spin yarn with a drop spindle. I love the feeling of the wool roving passing through my fingers and twisting the yarn. I close my eyes and imagine that I am connected to all the women of the past who have also made yarn in this very same way since the beginning of time. I love to needle felt, its so similar to painting with color mixing and layering. I also do illustrations in pencil and pen and ink."

Brandy says her favorite artists are Alphonse Mucha (one of my favorites, also), Van Gogh, and Matisse. Artists that are living today that she admires are Michael Haque, Brett Wilson, and Karma Majors (who is her aunt). Brandy lives in Colorado with her husband and two children.

"When I was a child I lived for a year in the mountains with a rushing river in my front yard and all the world to explore in my back yard. That year I discovered the magical realm of fairies and gnomes. Every spring flowers seemed to speak to me and trees and the rocks all had their own story to tell. I saw the world around me in a vividness that I hadn't been aware of before. Then my family returned to the city and I ever since have had that connection with nature." Thanks, Brandy, for sharing your art and thoughts with us.


  1. Wow! These are amazing. They are possibly the cutest things I've ever seen in my life.

  2. Those are fantastic!! Seriously amazing....I love seeing truly unique stuff like that!!

  3. Amazing so cute i like to collect them. So cute!!!What a wonderful idea.