Gnomes are magical creatures that were introduced in the 16th century, then adopted by recent authors to show up in fantasy literature. Gina Bullard found one woman who's creating the enchanting Made in Vermont characters.
12-year-old Maggie Ryan's imagination likes to run wild and free.
Just like the gnomes and fairies she believes in.
"It's fun to think about all these little creatures running around the forest," said Maggie.
Those creatures aren't just in the woods, they're also in her Essex home.
Susi Ryan, Maggie's mother, makes gnomes and all kinds of whimsical creatures for her business The Felted Gnome Knows.
"They are magical beings that live in the woods or around the house and they're quiet and creep around and make sure everything is going well," said Susi.
Susi does needle felting and wet felting to make her magical products that perch themselves on everything from shelves to ceilings.
The needle technique is a form of dry felting where she can add interest with wool as she moves along. Wet felting is more intense. Susi uses soap and hot water to create a cloth from the wool. It turns into one piece of fabric when she's done. This technique she often uses for hats and slippers.
"The wools allows it to be warm when it needs to be warm and cool when it needs to be cool," said Susi.
The Felted Gnome Knows started 5 years ago when Susi needed to make Christmas gifts and bought a gnome felting kit with her daughter.
"I knew that was going to be my medium to make things," said Susi.
First she made Santa's and then let imagination be her guide. Now it's her full time job and she sold 150 pieces this holiday season. Many are sent to Europe.
"I can look at wool and know I can make something out of it and whatever is in my head will come out and I've never had that experience with any other medium," said Susi.
All of Susi's enchanting sculptures are made from Vermont wool, something she feels strongly about.
"Vermonters appreciate hand crafted goods and appreciate supporting local artists as well as local farmers," said Susi.
Her hats are show stoppers.
"I love my mom's hats," said Maggie.
Susi says people who are whimsical and have a lot of self-confidence wear her hats.
Maggie: I look like a gnome.
Reporter Gina Bullard: You do! Do I look like one?
Maggie: You look more like a witch.
I don't think I have enough confidence to look like a witch but this hat...
Bullard: How do I look?
Maggie: You look awesome.
Bullard: Better than the witch. You feel magical in these.
Maggie: Yah, I love these.
Charming Made in Vermont creatures that always gnome what you're doing.
"We've talked about once you stop believing in the magic the magic goes away," said Susi.
You can find the Felted Gnome Knows products on Etsy or at http://www.thefeltedgnomeknows.com/
PO Box 4508