Monday, December 24, 2012

A visit to Santa's workshop

black walnut bowl

Most folks might think Santa's workshop is at the North Pole and is run by a fat man in a white beard, but for my siblings and I, we knew that Santa's workshop was on the North Shore, the barn shaped structure just a few paces past the garage, and Santa looked an awful lot like our dad.

From within the cozy walls of Santa's workshop, if one was lucky enough to sneak a peak, you would find hand crafted items in a variety of stages of completion, each one being meticulously tended by Santa himself.

Santa's magic bowl cutter

I had a chance to wander through Santa's workshop just this morning. It was quiet in the shop, no elves scurried about, surprising given it was Christmas Eve.

One piece of walnut

Several black walnut bowls were in various stages of completion - one on the lathe, one cut out but not yet glued, several finished, the walnut grain beneath their varnished surfaces gleaming as if lit from within.

the rings, stacked and ready to glue

It amazes me how a 10" square piece of walnut can be transformed into a bowl via a method of cutting concentric circles at an angle, then stacking them upside-down into a conical shaped bowl.

sanding the bowl

Gluing, sanding and varnishing follow and the finished product is a very lightweight and beautiful bowl that anyone would be proud to display at the center of their table or anywhere else in the house.

After the wood bowl tour, our attention turned to the workshop ceiling, where various model airplanes hung, their wings carefully removed and hung along the rafters, one with a wingspan of 12'!

one of Santa's many RC airplanes

(You didn't know Santa was an RC modeler now, did you?)

Props and engines and other parts are all carefully arranged, an art form of itself. 

parts and pieces, all carefully arranged

Flights aren't always successful, and evidence of a few bad landings can also be found.  We are just grateful Santa's reindeer never seem to have problems with their landing gear.


Looking at all the airplanes makes me feel like a kid in a candy shop, even though I have no idea how to fly one.

I remember as a small child when Santa's workshop was in our basement. I liked to go downstairs and watch Santa work his magic, whether it was putting together cabinets for a family in town or building a press to make cross-country skis for our family, each ski tip carefully stenciled with our first name in red block letters.

one of Santa's many RC model airplanes

I still have my pair. The bottom layer of wood has been worn nearly off with use so they have retired from active service, being used now as decorations, a place to hold my childhood memories of wax and cork and snowy outings with my family.

Santa holds an airplane engine for his newest creation

Despite the hours I used to sit and watch Santa work, sadly I never did acquire any wood working skills. Nor did I ever take shop in high school. My tools with a hammer and saw are limited to cutting firewood and hanging photos.

If I had the time and talent, there are so many things I'd like to create with  my own two hands:

These wool combs
This top bar bee hive
A rabbit condo for our new Velveteen Lop bunny
A chicken coop carved like a Norwegian stabbur

But alas, all I can do for now is put all of this down on my Christmas wish list and hope that I've been good enough that Santa will bring them to me next year.  Or the year after that.  I'm pretty patient when it comes to waiting for Santa's handmade goodies.

In the meantime, the lure of Santa's workshop calls me to visit every time I am home.  Once inside the magical room I stand quietly, taking in the smells of sawdust and glue, in awe of what can be accomplished with a handful of tools, a skilled hand and a head full of creative ideas.

Cheers -


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