17 December 2011

Ornament Blog Hop: The Nutcracker

"According to German folklore, nutcrackers were given as keepsakes to bring good luck to your family and protect your home. The legend says that a nutcracker represents power and strength and serves like a trusty watch dog guarding your family from evil spirits and danger. A fierce protector, the nutcracker bares its teeth to the evil spirits and serves as the traditional messenger of good luck and goodwill."

The Nutcracker is a beloved Christmas tradition the world over but most certainly in the United States where the ballet is performed yearly around the country. 

The Nutcracker ballet was based on a story called The Nutcracker and the Mouse King written by Alexander Dumas in the late 1800s. Tchikovsky composed the music with strict guidelines from the choreographer Marius Petipa, which included exactly the number of bars in a set and the tempo. Understandably, Tchaikovsky was not fond of working under such tight constraints and the music almost did not get written. I, for one, am so glad that it did because that music is some of the most recognizable and enduring of all time.

I can still hear the crackle and pop from the stereo as the 33 LP record played. My father would put those records on through the Christmas Eve night. I loved getting lost in the story that was told through the music. 

My favorite of all scenes are the ones with the dances from the different countries called the Character Dances in the second act. The way the music captures the cultural identity of these countries has always entranced me. The music that I long most to hear are the somber tones of the Arabian/Coffee Dance. I would lose myself in a sort of trance during that music only to be reawakened by the lively notes of the Chinese/Tea dance. The Russian/Trepak Dance is stirring and the Waltz of the Flowers is so very ethereal.

But the pas de deux (literally 'steps of two') by the Sugar Plum Fairy and her cavalier is so amazing. To see it performed live on stage is quite a sight. I didn't get the chance this year to see it, but I would really like to make that part of my holiday tradition. Maybe I can still find a televised version of it.


In deciding on an ornament to offer my dear partner Alice Peterson for this hop, I decided that the Nutcracker would be perfect so I made one in my 'simple truths' style. It is an easily recognizable symbol of the holiday and often evokes very happy memories through the ballet or the story or the music. It is a very traditional decoration that I hope will bring protection and strength to Alice's family and envelope them in a mantle of peace and goodwill for the coming year and every year they hang it on their tree. I added a pretty red ribbon for hanging and embellished it with a little beaded cluster of holly leaves and berries. If she wants she can even remove the ribbon and put it on a chain to wear it for Christmas.

Thank you for joining me on this journey. Please go and check out the rest of the participants of the Ornament Blog Hop on Sally Russick's WireWorked blog.


24 comments:

Christine Altmiller said...

Perfect sound and sight of the Season, Erin! I see the Nutcracker almost every year. This year I have been scrambling to find a time for us to go. It may not happen and it makes me a bit sad. To me, the Nutcracker and Nat Cole's Christmas are a mainstay and add a necessary calm to a too busy time of year. I really enjoyed the bit of history I learned here at your blog. Your ornament/pendant is beautiful and instantly recognizable!

Jenny said...

Sugar Plum Fairies! A staple of the Holiday season! Lovely ornament as always Erin. Tell me - you hand paint the polymer after baking? Before? Labor intensive, and lovely... Quite like the snowflakes on your banner as well! Happy Holidays!

T... said...

oh what a fun little nutcracker....wonderful ornament came from him, love the litte berry cluster dangle :)

Sally Russick said...

Erin, I love your ornament and the detail and coloring of the Nutcracker is wonderful! The little bead/berry cluster at the the bottom is such a wonderful detail and the fact that Alice could remove the ribbon and wear it on a necklace is so very clever. I love "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King" and your ornament takes me right back to sitting in the little local theater watching the Sugar Plum Fairies dance across the stage!

Thank you so much for jumping in and taking part in the swap/blog hop! You guys always give me the confidence to do things I never dreamed I would! Have a wonderful holiday!
Sally

My Life Under the Bus said...

He is such a handsome fellow!!! I ove the necklace idea too - You are an *Evil Genius* Ms Erin : )

Kathleen Lange Klik said...

The ornament you created for Alice is wonderful! I also love that she can use it as a pendant. Two beautiful gifts in one! My husband and I saw a performance of the Nutcracker in Washington D.C. a few years ago-it was really spectacular!

Alice said...

Erin,

I loved reading about the history of the nutcracker, and your connection to it through attending the ballet as a child.

Your 'Simple Truth's inspired ornament is so lovely, and it will hang a special place all year long to remind me of friendships, both near and far.

Thanks so much for this special gift!

SoulsFireDesigns said...

Oh Erin, I so love this. Of your holiday pendants/ornaments, this is my favorite by far. I have never seen the Nutcracker performed live, but we always tried to catch it on tv and I have always loved it. My mother and I both always adored nutcrackers, they are our favorite decorations for the holidays :) Reading the history suits my feelings of them exactly, I have always felt these little soldiers were guardians.

I am rambling, point being... this ornament is fantastic :)

Kokopelli said...

OMG, he is sooo cute!

rosebud101 said...

Erin, that is a lovely ornament! What a thrill to receive it!

Cindy Cima said...

I love you nutcracker ornament!

Erin Fickert-Rowland said...

I love it!! That nutcracker is just beautiful and the simple, yet versatile design is perfect!

kimmykats said...

What a precious ornament and to be able to wear it as a pendant too is fantastic. I too have been eyeing the snowflake below they are so beautiful.

Kim Stevens said...

What a really fun ornament!

Cindy said...

The nutcracker holds a special place here in our household as well. My husband reads the story to the kids, and we have a nutcracker collection that is getting a bit much! :-) Every other year we started giving each of the kids a German nutcracker for their own collections...in the hopes that one day while decorating their own homes, they'll remember the Christmas traditions of their childhood. They sell the unfinished wood versions at Michael's that are fun for the kids to paint as well.
Your Simple Truths nutcracker ornament is an instant heirloom. I love how you turned a traditional image in to an ornament with your own unique style!

Therese's Treasures said...

Erin, the Nutcracker ornament is beautiful. I like the design and how you hung the holly berries from the bottom, nice. I'm sure Alice is very pleased with her little Nutcracker ornament. I enjoy the music from the Nutcraker, but I have never seen it performed. I need to put that on the bucket list.
Merry Christmas,
Therese

Jen V. said...

Lovely! Curt & I created our own little tradition of seeing the Nutcracker in DC every Christmas (when he's in the country) and so we're slated to go this week. The artistry is always amazing, but the best part is always the comments from the little kids seated around us, especially the references to guys dressed like girls...haaaaaaaaa Always cracks me up! And their well-dressed grandmothers don't even know what to say!
Merry Christmas!
Jen

CraftyHope said...

Erin,
I've always loved the Nutcracker at Christmas and remember going to see the ballet on school trips when I was young. It is definitely a sure symbol of Christmas. I love your little berries and leaves as well. You created a beautiful piece!

Sandi Volpe said...

Hi Erin, Love the nutcracker, the dangles add so a nice touch. Gorgeous work as always. Merry Chrsitmas!!

In the Light of the Moon said...

Just Perfect Erin!!I LOVE Nutcrackers!!! Merry Merry Christmas friend,Cat

Rembrandt Charms said...

It is a unique idea to pick up the nutcracker and it looks amazing in the design that you have created,the holiday season is a visible.

Holly said...

Erin, the Nutcracker is one of my favorite traditions at this time of year, and your ornament is a beautiful tribute! Love, simply love, your Simple Truths line.

SueBeads said...

Beautiful Erin! When's that book coming out?!??!?!

Cindy Lietz, Polymer Clay Tutor said...

Such a darling ornament Erin! I had no idea that Nutcrackers were supposed to be guardians of the home... what a cool little factoid! Merry Christmas and much success for you in the New Year!

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