This month, we feature a really fun line of collectible gnome figurines from Tom Clark. Intricately crafted and decorated with vivid colors, each gnome is designed by the world-famous artist Tom Clark. Tom Clark was born in 1928, and grew up in Elizabethtown, North Carolina before leaving to attend Davidson College. After receiving his bachelor’s degree, he moved to Richmond, Virginia where he began working on his second degree at Union Theological Seminary. He also earned a Ph.D. from Aberdeen College in Scotland. Although he moved back to North Carolina and began teaching art and religion classes at Davidson College, he continued studying at schools around the globe. In 1989, Tom Clark received The Distinguished Alumni Award from Davidson College, an honor his father had received from the school 40 years earlier!
Tom Clark’s foray into the world of decorative figurines began in 1978, when he sculpted a gnome for his own amusement. His creation was inspired by the cover art of the book “Gnomes,” which was illustrated by the famous drawer of gnomes, Rien Poortvliet. Tom Clark was so inspired by the lore surrounding gnomes, he created an entire line of miniature forest dwellers that he called “Woodspirits.”
Just to clarify, a gnome is a small being not to be confused with an elf or a dwarf. When you see live gnomes, they’ll be about two inches tall and are typically wearing red hats, and are sometimes smoking pipes. The word “Gnome” is said to come from the Greek word “genomos” which means “earth dweller.” Throughout the middle ages, stories of little men who lived far beneath the earth’s surface spread throughout Europe. Stories were often told of treasure being buried and protected by these mythical creatures. (In fact, the gnome’s legendary affinity for treasure inspired a pejorative reference to Swiss bankers as "the Gnomes of Zurich” by British politicians.) During the mid-1800’s, garden gnomes became popular in Germany. The practice of people decorating their lawns and gardens with statues of gnomes spread throughout Europe. The practice was interrupted briefly by the world wars, when gnome production became problematic. Beginning in the 1960’s, the environmental movement led a resurgent interest in these earthy woodsmen.
Today, gnome collecting is more popular than ever and if you are a gnome collector or would like to become one, you will love our collection of Tom Clark gnomes. Great examples of fun designs include pieces like “Bobbin,” who sits atop a spool of thread, wears a thimble for a hat, and clutches a button, and “Shorty,” a wee old chap wearing a straw hat and a bright yellow sweater, surrounded by strawberries almost as big as he is!
Click here to see our entire selection in this pattern, and to order online via our secure form!
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