My Material Life

I Dream of Unfinished Nutcrackers


I have a sister-in-law who has an impressive collection of nutcrackers from Germany that I look forward to seeing whenever we attend her Christmas eve parties.  I always thought I’d collect my own once I got old enough and could afford the real thing.  But a few years ago, I ran across the three unfinished nutcrackers from China that you can see in the first photo of this post, and I never looked back at the real thing.  There was something about their unfinishedness that made them seem chic in some kind of naturalist/minimalist way.  And perhaps they seemed more friendly or maybe vulnerable in the raw than their fully painted counterparts?

The next year I found the two taller nutcrackers in the second photo.  I was so happy.  You see these are from Michaels and I just assumed that Michaels would continue to carry them and that I could add to my own unfinished nutcracker collection year after year and build my very own army of strong yet vulnerable nutcracker men.  But sadly, this was not to be.  Though I would continue to search for them, they would not be found.


Finding these guys last year took a little bit of the sting out of my loss.  Yes, they are painted, but in a charming way, and their colors look so right with that Marimekko fabric, don’t they?

I did manage to find this unfinished fellow at Target early this season.  Samantha painted him and I think she did a good job, but he’s a little too maniacal looking for me.  I prefer the drawing she brought home from school.

Would you like to know about that lamp I’m showing above?  Well the same year I found the taller unfinished nutcrackers, I found a red nutcracker lamp at Gump’s in San Francisco.  It was obviously intended for a child’s room, but it gave me the idea that one of my unfinished nutcrackers might work for any room in the house.  Amazingly, I found the perfect lamp to set my nutcracker on at Target.  The shade, however, was not perfect.  The shape was good (rectangular), but the materials came across looking a little cheap, so I put the whole project aside thinking I’d need to remake the shade.

Then this year I wised up and realized that I didn’t need to remake that shade.  I just needed to add a lovely blue velvet ribbon trim to its top and bottom.  And I needed some snowflake stickers for the inside of the shade to cast a wintery shadow.  Just those two things and I’d be in business.  The only problem was when I tried to change the fluorescent bulb that came with the lamp, I broke something and there was a bit of a household electrical problem and yada, yada, blah, blah what you see in the photo is a simulation.  My husband is actually holding his emergency lamp over the whole thing because the lamp is still broken.  But we’re going to fix it … some day.  In the meantime, do you think we should petition Michaels to bring back unfinished wood nutcrackers from China?  We can discuss incandescent bulbs another day.

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