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Artist Tom Bates


And More Vignettes

Village D-TAilS

Serving Department 56速 Village Enthusiasts

$4.95 USA $5.95 Canada

Village D-tails Hot off the press! June/July 2013

See page 31

june/july 2013

A Reference Source and Secondary Market Guide



City Lights

YeAr rOuND cHrIStMAS & cOLLectIBLeS eMpOrIuM 1212 knoxville St., San Diego, cA 92110 phone: 800-262-5335 email: When in San Diego why not visit our 40,000 sq. ft. store and view our incredible village displays including most retired pieces.

Visit Our Super New Website!

We Have Most New Intros Available In All Lines Are ALL IN StOck & SHIppINg! You can order online or give us a call! every Department 56 collectible listed, and most pictured, from Buildings to Accessories to trees to Walls and Fences.


We BuY ALL VILLAgeS BrANDS We cArrY: Jim Shore, precious Moments, Disney classics, Just the right Shoe, Lenox, ebony Visions, charming tails, christopher radko, possible Dreams, gold Label, g. DeBrekht, pipka, Harbour Lights, Annalee, Byers' choice, Willow tree, Fontanini, Ne'Qwa, Steinbach, Forchino, Alley cats, Wee Forest Folk, Boyd's Bears, Speed Freaks, trail of painted ponies, My Little kitchen Fairies, karen Didion, Bethany Lowe, Hansa, Foundations, Mark roberts, Lynn Haney, Munro Dragons, Fairy glen, Fairy Divas.

1510 North Broadway • Silver Lake Shopping Center Rochester, MN 55906 • Ph: 507-289-3901 (800) 552-7197 • Fax: 507-289-2934 E-mail: • We carry the following brands: Hallmark, Enesco, Department 56, Willow Tree, Precious Moments, Demdaco, Baggallini. hallmark open house July 13. like us on facebook!

Denny’s Gift Den

3257 100th Street Urbandale, IA 50322 515-276-3599 • Toll Free: 877-633-6647 Email: Some of the brands we carry: Boyd’s Bears, Byers’ Choice Carolers, Cherished Teddies, Department 56 Villages, Harmony Kingdom, Peggy Karr Glass, Precious Moments, Rinconada, Webkinz, Yankee Candles, Willow Tree. we buy collectibles!

Suzie’S Hallmark SHop

4506 Culver Road • Rochester, NY 14622 585-266-4506 Authorized dealer for Dept. 56 Villages and Village Accessories, Snowbabies, Snowpinions, Snowbunnies, Grinch, Dept. 56 Christmas ornaments. Our website is open 24/7: Free Shipping for Department 56 (In lower 48 states only). Coupon code: DEPT 56 now accepting orders for 2013 new releases!

18065 Harwood Ave. Homewood, IL 60430 Ph: 708-799-2810 Fax: 708-799-1475 Gold Key Dealer for Department 56. Some of the brands we carry: Hallmark, Department 56, All Villages and Accessories, Snowbabies, Jim Shore, Precious Moments, DaVinci Beads & Jewelry, Willow Tree, Foundations, Fontanini, Lolita glasses, Roman, Yankee Candles, and much more. All purchases receive points on your Gold Crown Card. Find us on Facebook. 2013 pieces are now in stock!

2822 West Erwin Street Tyler, Texas 75702 • 903-526-5556 A few of the brands we carry: Dept. 56 Villages & Accessories, Grinch, Peanuts, and Disney Villages. Bethany Lowe, Patience Brewster, Steinbach Nutcrackers, Fontanini, Mark Roberts, Pre-lit Christmas Trees in all colors and sizes, Custom wreaths and Garlands. A huge selection of themed trees.

Pier 39, Level 2 #N213 San Francisco, CA 94133 • 415-398-2944 • Some of the brands we carry: Department 56 All Villages, Snowbabies, Possible Dreams, Jim Shore, Byers' Choice, Old World Christmas, Thomas Kinkade Paintings, Fontanini, Nutcrackers, Disney, and much more.

Crystal Aerie

good things for all seasons

37597 Niles Blvd. Fremont, CA 94536 Ph: 510-791-0298 • Fax: 510-791-2358 • We carry the following brands: Harmony Kingdom, Byers’ Choice Carolers, Munro Faerie Glen and Dragonsite, Lenox Classics, Walt Disney Classics, Disney, all D56 Villages, Enesco's new Mickey and Tinkerbell Birthday Figures and Ne'Qwa Ornaments and much more!

334 S. Main St. Grapevine, TX 76051 817-251-3673 Club 56 and Gold Key Dealer for Department 56 We carry the following brands: Department 56 All Villages, Accessories, Possible Dreams, Snowbabies, Mark Robert's Fairies, Elves & Santas, Byers' Choice Carolers, Old World Christmas, December Diamonds, Mary Lake Thompson, Glitterville, Karen Didion Originals, Lilly Pulitzer Paper Products, Christopher Radko. We Ship Worldwide! Mon.-Sat. 10-6, Sun. 11-5

Paid advertisement

Village Hot SpotS

Hunt’s at Silver Lake Drug & Gift

from the editor

Editor Advertising Manager

Editor Linda Kruger can be reached at Cell Phone: 319.415.5839, or

Art Director Circulation Director

Linda Kruger Ronda Jans

Alicia Fryslie

Katrina Brocka

Mid-year Department 56 Village Introductions Previous years, Village D-Lights has routinely presented the mid-year introductions in our June/July issue. However, in 2013 Department 56 is trying to align its mid-year introductions with those of Enesco. It introduced some in April and some in May. There will also be some in early June — several weeks after the VDL June/July issue is published. Department 56 needs to give its sales reps time to meet with their accounts before it “formally” introduces the new intros on the consumer Website. This year it hopes to have this ready to go live by some time the second week of June. It’s not an exact science and there will be some variations from year to year based on the number of pieces to be introduced and any special events that are taking place. Since Department 56 requires that it be first to release the product to the public, Village D-Lights will not be able to publish the mid-years in our June/ July issue. Rather, we plan to make the mid-year introductions in our next issue, along with the Halloween products, so you may expect an expanded issue next time. We know this delay will be disappointing to subscribers and thank you for your patience in this change of schedule.

Village D-tails update By the time you read this announcement, Village D-tails will be off to the bindery where some of the first off copies of VDT will be bound and trimmed. At the same time, the Village Handbook will be in the final steps of publication. It is then only a matter of days for these two to reach the shipping department and finally your mailbox. Shipping begins the week of June 10, 2013. The Village D-tails Reference Source and Secondary Market Guide, 3rd Edition is complete with full color photographs of each item, an alphabetical index by name, and item number index. It is the only complete reference to list all buildings and accessories for all Department 56 Villages from their inception to January 2013. The smaller Village Handbook is designed to use on your shopping trips as a record of your purchases to avoid duplications. Each item is listed with the Original Sale Price and Retirement Year to help value resale pieces, sorted by the Village series and release date. It is a perfect complement to the book and many collectors want both to manage their collections. Place your order, either online at or by phone at 1.877.899.9977. See page 31 in this issue for a special offer. Make your purchase today! —




june/july 2013

CEO Jim Slife

Publisher Polly Clark

Production Twilla Glessner

Accounting Manager Allison Volker

Volume 9 / Number 3 1.877.899.9977 Fax 319.824.3414

Village D-Lights (ISSN 1555-2918) (USPS 024-048) is published bi-monthly. Periodical Postage Paid at Des Moines, Iowa and at additional mailing offices. $27.00 per year in U.S., $37.00 in Canada, Mexico, and other foreign countries. Payment in U.S. funds must accompany order. Published by Pioneer Communications, Inc., 300 Walnut Street, Suite 6, Des Moines, Iowa 50309. Village D-Lights is a Pioneer Communications, Inc. publication. COPYRIGHT ©2013 by Village D-Lights. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher assumes no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts or photographs. The opinions in articles written by contributing columnists & writers are solely those of the author & not necessarily those of Village D-Lights. Editorial & Subscription: 300 Walnut St., Suite 6, Des Moines, IA 50309, Phone: 877.899.9977, ext. 204, Fax: 319.824.3414. advertising: Call Ronda Jans at 319.415.5639 POSTMASTER: Send all address changes to Village D-Lights, 300 Walnut St., Suite 6, Des Moines, IA 50309.

Pioneer Communications, Inc. HEADQUARTERS: 300 Walnut St., Suite 6, Des Moines, Iowa 50309. Phone: 515.246.0402, Fax: 515.246.0398. PRODUCTION FACILITY: 316 W. Fifth St., Waterloo, Iowa 50701. Ph.: 319.234.8969, Fax: 319.234.8518. “Department 56®, Inc.,” “Original Snow Village®,” “Heritage Village Collection®,” “Dickens’ Village Series®,” “New England Village® Series,” “Christmas in the City® Series,” “Seasons Bay®,” “Profiles Department 56®,” “Literary Classics®,” “Alpine Village Series®,” and "American Pride® Collection," are the Registered Trademarks of Department 56®, Inc., Eden Prairie, MN. “North Pole Series™,” "North Pole Woods™ Series," “The Holy Land™ Collection,” "Little Town of Bethlehem™ Series," "Hot Properties!™ Collection," "Disney Parks Village™ Series," Williamsburg Village™, Winter Frost™, Jim Shore Village, and “Snowbabies™” are Trademarks of Department 56®, Inc.


Pg. 8

Designing Displays 8

A Monument to memories

"Collector Spotlight" on Susan Holman By Stephanie Finnegan

12 Old west desert vignette "The Village Workshop" by Stephen Pepin 16

Celebrate Throughout the Year: Part III — Be Inspired "On Display" by Leigh Gieringer


WElcome Aboard "Train Skein" by Paul Malek


Vignettes & more vignettes for Summer! "Lights, Camera, Action" by J. Michael Sanders


Just So You Know… "Display Ideas, Hints, and Opinions" by David Spears

Pg. 20

Department 56 Details 22

What To Do When A Department 56 Item Is Retired "A Little Light On the Subject" by Melinda Seegers


Designer Tom Bates Has a New York State of Mind "From Inspiration to Creation" by Steffie Lederman

Miscellaneous Musings

Pg. 24

4 From the Editor 6

A Special Invitation

"News From the NCC" by Mike Goode

27 New England Village Word Search

“Puzzle” by Linda Kruger

on the Cover

January 2013 introductions from Christmas In The City Series by Department 56® are featured on our cover. Items include 4030344 "Deerfield Airport," 4030350 "Flying Home For Christmas," 4030354 "First Class Flight." (Photo courtesy: Department 56®)

june/july 2013



News From the NCc

By Mike Goode, NCC President

A Special Invitation


n 2000, I retired as an administrator in a Texas public school district. I had spent my entire career in education and was now in search of something that would expose me to a totally different opportunity, yet still be in my comfort zone. In addition, I wanted to do something worthwhile and enjoyable. My search went on for almost a year with various volunteer projects, part time jobs, and world travels. During that year, Trisha and I once again attended the Texas Round Up gathering as we had the past several years. We attended these gatherings of collectors for one reason: to learn how to improve our Department 56 displays and to purchase that missing lighted house or accessory we absolutely had to have. We would also look forward to renewing friendships with people whom we only saw at the gatherings each summer. At each gathering we would hear about the various collectors clubs both in Dallas and in Fort Worth and would often receive verbal invitations to attend their meetings. Finally, I decided that I would attend a meeting of the club that met in Fort Worth since that was the closest. Thirteen years later, I find myself continuing to learn a wide range of display techniques and, just as importantly, I have many friends who are not just close friends but are friends who share the same interest that I have. These are individuals who not only work hard displaying their collections, but also give vast amounts of their time to many charities and various organizations. Club membership has many other advantages. Besides the fellowship one has with fellow collectors, membership opens up an entire world of learning. Learning how to create mountains for the North Pole Village is completely different from the New England Village; and certainly the Dickens’ Village backdrop. I 6


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learned the difference by attending workshops sponsored by my club. One of my favorite newly found options is to create a basement within any village display. At a recent gathering, one of my fellow club members attended a seminar demonstrating how to create a basement under a Halloween lighted building. Several weeks later she presented the same seminar at our club meeting. Programs are not always associated with Christmas displays. In the spring, a number of clubs hold contests inviting member participants to create displays incorporating Peeps. This is often coordinated with the nationwide Peeps display contest sponsored by various newspapers throughout the country.

Collector clubs often combine their talents with other nearby clubs and share in joint meetings. They often leave together in car caravans or charter a bus to unknown destinations (Mystery Trips). These are often trips to retail stores specializing in Christmas merchandise, antiques, miniatures and other items that would enhance their displays or decorate their home. Clubs meet year round or six to nine times a year. Programs are not limited to village displays. Often, clubs invite various representatives from local charities to speak at meetings; therefore, allowing clubs to learn more about them. Many clubs and club members donate their time at a wide variety of charities in addition to helping fund these organizations.

One of my favorite events found in almost all collector clubs is the annual Holiday Tour of Homes. Club members open their homes during the holidays in order to share their displays and holiday decorations. This is always the highlight of the year’s activities. If you do not yet belong to a Department 56 collectors club, let me invite you to visit the NCC Web site at www. Just click the Club Locator tab at the top of the home page and search for a club near you. If you do not find a club in your location, we have individuals on board that can help you create a club in your area…how easy is that? The National Council of 56 Clubs (NCC) serves as an umbrella organization that assists clubs in connecting with other clubs throughout United States and Canada. It also serves as a clearinghouse of information as to club activities, regional gatherings, new Department 56 introductions and retired pieces, special events and much more. As president of the NCC, let me extend a very special invitation to you to become a member of a collectors club or even start your own club. There are many benefits to membership, yet one of the most unique experiences you will encounter will be sharing your passion for collecting Department 56 lighted houses with others who celebrate that same excitement. u

Department 56 Signing Event & North Pole Promotion

July 20


11am – 1pm Master Artist Tom bates will be in the store signing buildings from any village on this day only. Your chance to own and treasure an artist signed piece. North Pole Special Promotion With Free Accessories:

All signed pieces will be shipped the week after the event. As always, orders over $48 ship for free and if you are outside CA you pay no sales tax!

New this year the exciting Northern Lights Train Depot and Train will make a colorful and interesting addition to your display. For this year, only the train engine will be available, but each year 56 will be adding a car or two to go with it! Why not take advantage of this special promotion while stocks last. Limited quantities available.

VERY IMPORTANT: In order to receive the free piece and have your pieces signed, you must use the Promotional code of “d5615”. If no code is used, we will not know you want your pieces signed, and your order will ship out immediately.

Buy the Train, Depot and a set of either track and receive the “Christmas Toys On Schedule Conductor” and “The Candy Cane Hitching Post” for FREE, a retail value of $27.50

All orders for pre-signed pieces will be billed immediately to guarantee they will be signed. Also, if your order is placed online, you will receive a shipping confirmation email once your order has been processed. This is an automated response so please disregard.

City Lights

YEAR ROuNd ChRISTMAS & COllECTIblES EMPORIuM 1212 Knoxville St., San diego, CA 92110 Phone: 800-262-5335 • Email:

Collector Spotlight

By Stephanie Finnegan

A Monument

to Memories

Susan Holman’s villages hold heartfelt connections to people and places she has loved.


hen Susan Holman was a little girl, her aunt and uncle built a dollhouse for her. This gift to their beloved niece swung open a lifelong love for collecting miniatures. Young Susan adored designing the rooms for the tiny house and decorating it for every season. “I guess that’s why the miniature Department 56® villages have always intrigued me ever since I received the first building,” the collector reminisces. The Dallas, Texas, resident began her affinity for Department 56 when her mom presented her with the “Abbey” from The Dickens’ Village Series. The following year, her mother gave her “The Old Curiosity Shop” and then followed it with “The Crown and Cricket Inn.” “I was fascinated that these tiny, beautiful buildings have their own light bulbs,” Holman explains. “Sadly, my mother passed away in 1993. Little did she know, she created a monster in me!” Today, the retired schoolteacher estimates that she has nearly 940 Department 56 buildings and accessories. To honor her late mother, who prompted her to become a Department 56 fan, Holman concentrated on expanding her Dickens’ scenario. “I focused mostly on A Christmas Carol theme in Dickens’, but I was also intrigued by The Original Snow Village. 8


june/july 2013

I would buy buildings to give away as Christmas presents, until I asked myself, ‘What is wrong with me? I, too, could be a Snow Village collector!’” That epiphany nudged Susan into acquiring The Original Snow Village buildings and accessories. Among her first purchases was the “Mount Olivet Church,” which is a decision she always makes when starting a new avocation. She always kicks off a collection by first

selecting a church. Faith and honoring the memories of loved ones are two themes that swaddle Holman’s displays. It was her shared enthusiasm with her mom, for the oft-repeated “God bless us, everyone,” that started her mother in buying the Dickens’ replicas. Appreciating the spirit Collector Susan Holman. Photo credit: Mark Oristano

The panoramic view of the Snow Village is lit up with the brilliance of Christmas and Holman’s handiwork of finding the right place to position all the right touches. Photo Credit: Susan Holman

of Christmas and the spirit of generosity and gratitude, Susan has used her displays to pay tribute to the important people and places in her life. “I started collecting the Christmas In The City Series in memory of my mother, who took me to New York frequently when I was a young girl, and again later in my life. Also, since I was raised during the 1950s, I started collecting The Original Snow Village because of the unique ‘50s architectural style of the buildings and the attire of the tiny characters,” the 64-yearold confides. She also has a treasure-trove of Halloween Village, which she likes for its animation, its sights and sounds. However, she hasn’t displayed her frightening favorites for some time now. Married for 35 years to devoted husband, Leon, Susan acknowledges that her husband is supportive of her hobby. “He’s not a collector, but he always keeps the hot-glue gun ready when something breaks!” she jokes. A proud and devoted mother, Susan’s youngest daughter died at the age of 18

from a rare form of cancer. In her memory, and to raise funds for a library that the family dedicated in her honor, Holman planned to publicly display her collection for tour groups. However, the parameters of doing that (24-hour security, physical barriers, logistical coordination) prevented it from happening. Still, she unveils her setups at home every December for “dozens and dozens of groups.” A friend of hers hosts a cooking class/camp during that month, and “a group of young children come here every year to view the villages and that gives me such great pleasure,” notes Susan. Today, Susan’s two daughters, ages 32 and 31, are impressed by their mother’s commitment to celebrating Christmas in a huge way. “I love every minute of setting up the display, and I watch holiday DVDs while in the process. My family teases me that I am already watching White Christmas as early as October!” Holman’s younger daughter lives in Houston and her older

daughter resides in Dallas. “My older daughter helps me with displays when she is here. The younger one sees the partial display at Thanksgiving and the full display at Christmas.” Large portions of the Holman house become the backdrops for the various villages: “Dickens’ is in the front room of the house, by the window. Christmas In The City is in the den, overlooking The vignettes that Holman arranges for the Snow Village speak to her childhood and memories of growing up in the 1950s. The styles of the buildings appeal to her fondness for those happy days. Photo Credit: Susan Holman

june/july 2013



Collector Spotlight

the garden room and backyard pool. The Original Snow Village is in the game room on top of the pool table, with additional tables set up at both ends. The tiered platform for Dickens’ is the only one that was custom built. I tried to display it in the window seat in the bay window in the living room, but there wasn’t enough room. A friend of mine, Andy Sims, comes each year to help me get the boxes for the village pieces downstairs, and it was his idea to build the tiered display. He created it so that it can be completely dismantled and stored in sections in the garage from January through October. For Christmas In The City, we used a standard 8-foot table with extensions that Andy made.” The hands-on collector enjoys her role as tour guide and display narrator. One thing she always cautions her visitors about: “Do not look under the draping! It is an electrician’s nightmare with all the extension cords and power strips. With a display such as mine, it’s important that you make sure you have adequate electrical power!” It’s also essential to have an understanding family: “My husband doesn’t mind 10


june/july 2013

navigating among boxes all over the house during setup and take-down.” Because her family has witnessed her immersion into this alternate holiday world, she hopes that her collection will become her legacy; finding a home with her offspring. “I had intended to leave The Dickens’ Village Series to my oldest daughter, Christmas In The City Series to my middle daughter, and The Original Snow Village to my youngest daughter; who, sadly, is no longer with us. I have no plans for the villages, unless my daughters would like them. If they decline, I would hope that my family would like to donate them to either the Children’s Medical Center in Dallas or the Make-A-Wish® Foundation of North Texas in memory of Krissi,” Holman asserts. For more than 20 years, Susan Holman has been buying pieces to fine-tune her passion. “To me, this is a healthy, fun, rewarding hobby. Each tiny character has a personality of its own, and all of my displays are very special to me,” she declares. When pressed to name favorites, she admits that her preferences are: “Elf Mountain Ski Resort” in The Original

Susan Holman and her mother were greatly influenced by Charles Dickens’ vision of England. The two Anglophiles were touched by his stories and characters. Photo credit: Mark Oristano

Snow Village Series; “Times Square” in Christmas In The City Series; and the “Village Mill” in The Dickens’ Village Series.” Each of these arrangements means a great deal to her; and that is the encouragement she hopes to share with beginner collectors, and folks who are deciding what and why to collect next: “My advice is to think it through clearly before you start collecting. Decide which village is desired, and then select very unique, unusual pieces with your display site in mind. When deciding on the village, my suggestion is to select something that is personally meaningful.” For Susan Holman, her villages stand as a testament to the life she loves, and the lives she has loved and lost along the way. With each lit-up building, she is dedicating its glow to the memories of the departed, and as a beacon to the friends and family who still surround her heart. u

NORTHEAST i ng G at her Oct 25- 27, 2013 • Windsor Locks, CT


• People selling collections/pieces • People buying houses & accessories • People looking for display ideas • People who want to see the Northeast

For SAlE

25 Year Collection of Dept. 56 Dickens’ Village over 100 houses! Some signature & discontinued, plus many extra people, carriages, etc.

For Information Contact: Al Schorza 610-620-4187 Email:

june/july 2013



village workshop

By stephen Pepin, Showcase Displays

photo 10

Old West

e t t e n g i v desert

photo 1



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photo 2


photo 6

photo 3

ith summer here, I decided to create a scene that isn’t usually considered — an Old West desert scene. Thanks to the new Department 56 Halloween introductions in the Wild West theme, there now are great pieces appropriate for such a scene. The following pieces fit especially well in an Old West desert scene: “Big Horn Saloon,” “Blood Creek Jailhouse,” “Rickety Railroad Station,” “Haunted Rails Train Set,” “Haunted Rails Grain Elevator,” “Haunted Rails Water Tower,” and the coordinating accessories. For this project, I am creating a small twobuilding vignette that will also fit accessories. The Old West scene will feature a rock formation and desert landscaping. The carving tools used for this work are the sculpting tool from the Hot Wire Foam Factory™ and the Tippi Foam Cutter™ (photo 1). The first step consists of defining the base display area, leaving enough room for our rock formation backdrop. An outline is drawn on a piece of foam (photo 2) and cut out. As I plan to send the buildings’ electrical cords to the back of the display, I cut two holes for them and the strips under the foam piece, to send the cords through and to the back (photo 3). Next, I start building the rock formation backdrop. Using foam pieces of various thicknesses and decreasing size, I create rough piles (photo 4). Using the sculpting tool, I

carve random horizontal patterns in the rock piles using in-and-out motions. This will not only give them the rock look, but also help blend the layers of foam together (photo 5). I continue to carve the edge of the display’s base layer; but for this, I mostly switch to vertical cuts using the same sculpting tool. Once I am satisfied with the look of the rock formation, I proceed with coloring the display. You can use several methods: paint brushing, airbrushing, spraying, or a combination of these. For this project, I decided to use the Liquitex® paint sprays. These perform beautifully on foam and come in a wide array of colors. The colors become a personal preference; but I suggest picking a minimum of two colors, in order to have a variety of hues and creating some contrast. My preferences for this display were a tan or sand color, along with a more reddish-brown. As I desired to have the reddish-brown be the more predominant color, I start with the tan or sand color. I spray in a random fashion, creating some lighter and darker spots. Some spots remain unpainted, which is perfectly fine (photo 6). Next, I use the reddish-brown color. I also use a random type of approach to spray it, but I focus on ensuring that no bare foam is visible (photo 7). With that completed, I look for opportunities to create some details. An open grave would be a nice accent, so I use my Tippi Foam Cutter to carve it out (photo 8), paint the newly exposed bare foam, and install a crooked tombstone.

photo 4

photo 5

june/july 2013



village workshop

photo 8

Now comes the fun part of landscaping the display! Because Department 56 doesn’t have desert-related plants or trees, I opt for Woodland Scenics™ for saguaros and other cacti plants, as well as a variety of products from JTT Scenery Products™ for weeds, trees, and other appropriate scenic accents (photo 9). I use loose dirt and craft glue to blend the base of the plants with the surrounding scenery. Now it’s time to have fun with the display! The “Blood Creek Jailhouse “ with additional landscaping material around it completes the scene (photo 10). The picture here shows a paper cutout of the building, as the actual building wasn’t yet available in stores at the time of creating the display. The rock formation backdrop and landscaping really seem to fit the scene well, using a realistic scenery approach. I hope this provides some fresh, different ideas to consider for your future projects. I wish all Village D-Lights’ readers a wonderful summer. Start planning your village projects because, before you know it, Halloween and Christmas will be upon us! If you have any comment or questions regarding this topic, please don’t hesitate to contact me at stephen@ If you are in the Phoenix area,



june/july 2013

photo 7

photo 9

please visit Millie’s Hallmark to view some of my display creations, in addition to a great selection of Department 56 products! u

For SalE

Department 56 Dickens’ Village Collection over 100 houses, people, carriages, and additional accessories from 1985 to present. Location: Delaware County, PA

Please Contact: Chris 610-449-1448 • 610-256-9989 Email:

Events Calendar October 25 – 27, 2013: Windsor Locks, Connecticut NORTHEAST HARVEST GATHERING to be held at the Sheraton Hartford Hotel at Bradley International Airport, just a short walk from the airport. It has been 10 years since a gathering was held in the northeast. Just think — fall foliage, friends, and Department 56. Watch for details on the website — www.northeastharvestgathering. com — as they are released.

One Year Subscription • $24 Village D-Lights is the #1 resource for Department 56® Village enthusiasts.

April/May 2013

AprIL/mAy 2013



Find the latest introductions and retirements for your favorite Snow Village, Snow Village Halloween, Dickens' Village, Christmas in the City, New England Village, North Pole, Alpine Village, and Snowbabies™ collectibles. Our magazine brings you instructions for displaying villages, a calendar of events, and club news from the National Council of 56 Clubs. Plus, find tips on caring for your collectibles, viewpoints of other collectors like yourself, and the insider stories behind the artists and their creations.

Subscribe Today! Call 1.877.899.9977 or order online at




Throughout the


Part 3: June/July Be Inspired


rom where do ideas come? Be observant. Be inspired. Ideas are everywhere! At the time of this writing, baseball season is just beginning. Since there were only four baseball stadium and associated building sets created, chances are good that your team is not represented, but the ones that exist have a long history so they were the chosen few! I’m certain that a true Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, or White Sox fan might be appalled if one were to adorn these buildings with their favorite team’s pennants and logos, but — don’t think it has not happened! Thus, drape your colors around the buildings, with major architecture of the façades visible; obtain some miniature pennants and other souvenirs from your team and place them around the buildings; re-purpose that old catcher’s mitt, maybe add a bat, create a field with bases to run, and add those hot dog vendors, pretzel carts, and kids practicing their batting and catching. You can develop a fantastic display around a baseball theme. The boys of summer — and other baseball fans — will appreciate it! Summer is also the time for travel, resort fun, swimming, hiking, and more throughout the countryside, historic areas, water adventures, camping, carnivals, and much more. There are buildings and accessories for any number of activities to cherish as families create more memories. Develop a display around your favorite summer activities. Childhood reflections of the past can be relived within the display and passed along to younger generations. The Fourth of July is a wonderful opportunity to recreate the importance of America’s past. My memories of America’s birthday are filled with flags, parades, flags, and picnics in the park. Did I mention waving the red, white, and blue stars and stripes? And, of course, band stands with musicians playing patriotic tunes while fireworks were exploding over the lake! Don’t forget to get out your favorite rendition of the 1812 Overture! Maybe growing up in a small town was different than spending one’s childhood in



june/july 2013

The lighthouse display was inspired from a picture hanging in a seafood restaurant. Instead of the illusive lone bicycle featured in the painting, two little birds adorn the handrails. Development of the base display takes some time and thought, but it can easily be altered. Any of the lighthouses could be substituted, trees and bushes could make the scene less barren, and appropriate accessories could be added to give it more life.

larger cities, but the memories are as vivid today as if the events happened yesterday. Current generations should also be able to create their own Fourth of July memories. Trips to Washington DC to see the White House, and the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials honoring our country’s past is something every child should experience. But if a vacation to the East is not possible, patriotic displays are special during the summer. Incorporate patriotic items around one or more of the Department 56 Washington Landmark buildings. “Independence

Hall” can also be made into a vignette that can be enjoyed over the Fourth, as well as year around! Add the “Fife and Drums” accessory from the Williamsburg collection to accessorize it. If you wanted to expand the “Independence Hall” setting, or just recreate historic Williamsburg, there are plenty of wonderful options for a patriotic display. Snow Village and CIC have travel agencies. They can be surrounded with travel posters of your favorite places to get you in the traveling mood. Or, add items indigenous to the areas of your travels, such as driftwood and fishing nets for a coastal scene, wooden shoes from Holland, beer steins from Germany, wood carvings from Africa, etc. Adding postcards from your favorite destinations is an easy solution. As an alternative, use the pictures as your guide to replicate the gorgeous photo on the front of the postcard.  Rail stations can also depict travel. Every village has one! Ski resorts are as popular during the summer months as they are in winter. Several villages have them, as well. Create your very own zip line through the trees! Showcase mountain biking, or hiking though the forests. Or, create a small main street with tourist type shops for your travelers to explore. Include a restaurant with an outdoor patio. There are numerous possibilities to detail. Long wooden tables and benches can be made from Balsawood. Miniature metal tables and chairs can accommodate many patrons of the restaurant. Round filigree disks from the jewelry section of a craft store can be utilized if you do not have any pre-made tables. Round wooden disks can also be used to make the tables. Tablecloths can be made from tiny pieces of fabric or create them on a computer, cut them out and place them on the disks. Miniature food, glasses or bottles, etc. can adorn the tables. Make them from Fimo® clay. Ivy or flowering plants can be trellised on the roofs and sides to form the perimeters of the patio. A Mexican restaurant would be detailed differently from an Italian restaurant. Christmas in the City has numerous ethnic restaurants from which to choose. Snow Village collectors also have a large choice. Use a real restaurant as your model. Consider incorporating their menu as part of the display.

Since the original painting showed the front only, the sides and back were left to the imagination. A rocky coast was added to the back so the display could be viewed from any angle. If desired, the vignette could be expanded into a larger display. The materials used were Styrofoam™ and canned insulation foam, then carved with a paring knife.

The beach is another favorite destination in summer. New England pieces abound for developing a coastal display. Determine if your beach is a rocky one or a shell beach and be creative. Snow Village and CIC can be adapted to that theme, as well as Season’s Bay if you have those pieces. Determine the building(s). Develop the theme! Or, select a theme, then find appropriate buildings. Either way works. In your travels around your town, you might find a special item at Goodwill, in Grandma’s attic or at an antique, toy or gift store. Or, a souvenir from a vacation might attract your attention. Build a display around these items. Still wondering what to display? Look around you. Walking into a restaurant a few days ago, there was a picture of a lone lighthouse with the ocean behind it, a wooden walk way and a bicycle was resting against the handrail. There were no people, just this idyllic setting. My first thought was that this setting would make a beautiful summer display. The next action was to grab some Styrofoam™, layer it and proceed to develop the oceanside display featured here. Unfortunately, miniature bicycles are hard to find. Stops at three different crafts and miniature stores provided no results. Thus, the end result will be a variation on the original theme. That happens quite often, but display building is a subjective art. Change happens! As it gets closer to Christmas, the allusive bicycle may one day

appear. Then, it can be added to the display! When a scene stands out as something that could become a viable option for a display, take notes, draw sketches, or get out the i-phone to take a picture of it. Also, look on the Internet for ideas. If you are an Alpine collector, peruse the sites associated with the Alps. Many photos are featured to provide numerous ideas. Duplicate them, or take some aspects from one photo and merge them with others. As a New England collector, there are numerous coastal pictures to be emulated. Ditto with the other villages. The important thing is to keep your eyes open for new ideas. Additionally, this research can give you ideas to detail the buildings you have for small vignettes or as part of your mega village display. Once you have completed a display, it can be changed for an entirely new look. Switching out the building(s) will give an entirely new appearance or freshen the display. Instead of an English countryside, use one of the New England non-snow buildings. Add trees appropriate to the season and building(s). Remove trees for a more stark appearance, to provide space for adding another building or placing an accessory. Switch out evergreens with flowering trees, or vice versa. Changing the detailing will give it a new look. An English countryside cottage would feature different accessories than the “Verna Mae Boutique.” Another building, such as the “Bicycle Shop,” would be accessorized differently; as would a lighthouse, photo studio, a church, or a pub! Time spent on developing the initial display is well spent. It can be enjoyed as originally created, yet it is easily changed with little effort when desired.  Most collectors are basically attracted to special pieces depending on their background, profession, heritage, personality, or hobbies. They will also have favorites among their collection. Feature these buildings for your summer or year ‘round vignettes. Village collecting is a creative hobby. It should be enjoyed throughout the year! So what if it has patches of snow on the roof! They can be covered with ivy or a climbing rose bush if the white patches are bothersome! u june/july 2013





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june/july 2013




By paul malek

Welcome Aboard


elcome to my first installment as co-author of Train Skein. Some of you know me — some maybe too well — while others may have been spared. Please let me introduce myself and let you know just what it is I will be talking about here on the Train Skein. I have been an avid Department 56 collector since 1993 or thereabouts. For more than 20 years, I have been involved

with this collectibles hobby, or dare I say addiction. I have amassed more than a few pieces, in just about every village available. I may also be recognized by some of you as Deputy 2, from the Arizona gathering back in 2011. Some of you may have seen articles published about me in past issues of this outstanding magazine that you are enjoying right now. You will be happy to hear that I am doing much better

now, thanks to my doctor (psychiatrist) and plenty of meds that are supposed to help me with my collectible issues. Apparently the meds have a strange side affect; not only have I not been able to cure my desire for little buildings, I also have a huge appetite for trains, and train accessories. Go figure. That’s enough about me, I hope I didn’t scare anyone away. Let’s get on with what you really want to know about villages and trains.

Photo 1



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Photo 2

Photo 3 My co-author, Phil Renninger, has done a great job with the last three issues of this column by giving all you readers insight into the scale, gauge, maintenance, and other technical tidbits about your village displays. My articles will focus more on the general aspects of adding trains and train accessories into your village collections, and will not be as in depth as my learned colleague’s. I have seen many questions about the Train Skein section on Facebook, asking what size and type of train is appropriate for a particular situation. Therein lies the $50 million question. My opinion on this is simple. Any train, regardless of size, manufacturer, road name, color, or style, is a matter of taste and opinion. If you like it and it makes you happy, then it’s right, just right. The motion, sights, and sounds of the train draw you into the display that much more, allowing the person viewing to really enjoy the details that may otherwise be overlooked. I, myself, have many different sizes and types of trains in my collection,

and, at one time or another, have used one or more of them in my displays, some even at the same time. In photo 1, is an N scale (very small) Christmas train by Bachmann®. I used it on the top layer of one of my past displays to achieve the perspective of looking at something from a faraway distance. In photo 2, is the Department 56 Village Express train set, which is also made by Bachmann and can be seen running through one of my Dickens’ Village scenes.

In photo 3, is an MTH® HO gauge Pennsylvania diesel set running around a small New England Village display. And, finally in photo 4, I am using the Polar Express™ O Gauge set made by Lionel, which can be seen running on the enclosed oval loop of track that came as part of the set. As you can see, there are lots of choices available to you as a collector for use in your own displays. Hundreds, if not thousands in fact, are available in every size, shape, type, color, and price point. Yes, there is a price point! I have found complete sets for as little as $50 and I also have seen individual train cars selling for thousands of dollars. Only your display area, budget, and imagination stand in your way. The main thing to keep in mind is — just have fun! Find a train that you like, no matter what the size and style, and have at it. Isn’t that why you started collecting little village houses in the first place — to have fun? That, of course, is just my humble opinion! Until next time, I’ll see you “All Aboard” The Train Skein. u

Photo 4

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a little light on the subject

By melinda seegers

What To Do

When a Department 56 Item Is Discontinued or Retired

This giftware line called “Daisy Fields” by Kristi Jensen Pierro will debut for spring, 2014.

Dear C ollectors: There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t get a call or e-mail from a collector who is looking for a product that Department 56 no longer offers. Popular giftware lines like Billy Buttons, Winter Silhouettes, and Neapolitan Nativity are discontinued or retired collections that we often get questions about. The callers tell me they really love what they have and were hoping to add more purchases. Sadly, we have to share the information that the collection they asked about is now discontinued. 22


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But, why does a company discontinue a giftware line that had great style, widespread appeal, and sold for a number of seasons? For the answer to this and other questions regarding some of the decisions made by giftware companies like Enesco© and Department 56®, we decided to talk to Mary Adams, director of product marketing for Department 56. Adams and her team are responsible for the Snowbabies, Snowbunnies, and Classic Brands, including all the licensing for name brand products. Recently, I sat down with Adams

TOP Photo: "Chilly Billy" from the retired Billy Buttons collection. Middle Photo: A Neapolitan Nativity piece BOTTOM Photo: Silhouette Treasures (Also called Winter Silhouettes, or Silhouettes) “Snow Friends” 2003-2004.

to see where we were with some of the giftware lines we have produced in past years. “This spring, it was decided to discontinue the Snowbunnies and another popular spring line, Dottie,” Adams shared. As you may recall, the Snowbunnies were introduced in 1994 as the cousins to our Snowbabies. Kristi Jensen Pierro was the artist who drew the pieces for this series. Adams shared

Winter Silhouettes giftware is discontinued.

with me that Pierro was able to design the bunnies doing things that Snowbabies couldn’t do — like springy, nonsnowy things. While the Snowbabies were limited to winter sports and winter activities, the Snowbunnies could hunt for Easter eggs, play in the grass, and jump in spring rain puddles. We wanted to know what steps are taken to decide to retire/discontinue a line like Snowbunnies? “By retiring giftware lines, it allows our artists the time necessary to explore new themes and ultimately gives the artist a chance to grow creatively. Perhaps you didn’t know that Pierro is responsible for designing many beautiful giftware collections as well as the Snowbabies. Wait until you see some of the new things we have planned for 2014!” Adams gave us a peek at a new line called Daisy Fields that incorporates the spring theme of rabbits, flowers, and the garden. I love the retro colors and newly designed rabbits that are part of this group and will include tabletop items, figurines, and garden accents. Because Snowbabies continues to grow and evolve as a popular collection, retiring Snowbunnies frees Pierro to give more attention to this new line. “In 2014, we will see the Snowbabies make some new friends — woodland animals, a hedgehog, a squirrel, and — wait a minute! You’re getting me to talk too much! The collectors will just have to wait and see!” winks Adams as she laughs. As the product marketing director, Adams has to look at more than the aesthetics of a collection to determine if the product stays or goes. Sometimes it comes down to what sells and what our sales force is telling her. “And this can be really

hard, I get as attached to a giftware line as the artist, and I’m sure, as our collectors do.” A favorite Snowbunnies’ of Adams’ is “Puddle Pals” from 2000, which featured a snowbunny in bright yellow boots and carrying a big yellow umbrella. Another question we get from our collectors is, “If the series is discontinued, how do I go about finding additional pieces to round out what I have already purchased?” Half of the fun of collecting is the hunt — to find the last piece to complete the series. And sometimes we find these things in the most unusual places — an auction, a charity donation sale, or at a neighbor’s garage sale. If you know the name of the series you want, then you have a way to initiate a search online. Web sites like Amazon® and eBay® are great sources for finding seasonal giftware. Department 56 has compiled a list of some of the more popular series, like Winter Silhouettes and Neapolitan Nativity. You are always welcome to call us and we’d be glad to e-mail a copy of the list to you if we have it. Unfortunately, because Department 56 started producing giftware in 1976 and have introduced literally thousands of different product lines, we may not have the list you need. But we’re always glad to check and help identify what you have based on a photo and/or description. I am fairly familiar with most of the lines; knowl-

"Puddle Pals" from Snowbunnies.

edge I’ve acquired from working here for almost a quarter of a century. (Now that makes me sound old!) What we are not able to tell you is what these giftware items would sell for today — in other words, their secondary market value. There is no reference and secondary market guide like Village D-tails or Discovering Snowbabies for giftware. Usually sentiment plays an important part in the value of these retired/discontinued items. If you have a story about where you were when you bought the piece or a remembrance of the person who gave you the gift, then of course, the piece is worth much more than what it originally cost. Then, the value is up to you. And, if you give your collection to your granddaughter and she doesn’t share your sentiment, don’t be surprised when your Snowbunnies end up in her tag sale! As always, happy collecting — and happy summer! u

Ms Lit Town Department 56 Consumer Services 800.548.8697 june/july 2013



lights, camera, action

By J. Michael Sanders


and More Vignettes for Summer! Her Majesty’s Jeweler by Sue Chretien Bathroom Vignette: “Brightsmith & Sons, Queens Jeweller’s” on a mirrored base with silver slag, and miscellaneous jewels.


ow that the warm days of summer are here (for us in Phoenix, AZ — it’s the hot days of summer) and you have all your spring cleaning done, now is the perfect time to start thinking about and planning your village displays for the upcoming holidays. After all, the holidays are only six months away…really? So before you forget where you put everything, why not plan and create 24


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some vignette displays, which can be built ahead of time and then put in storage? And, if your creation is a larger, more complicated one — and too large to store in one piece — then simply mock it up and take a picture. Then take it apart and store all the individual components together in a single box or in several boxes, identified as to what is inside. When the holidays get here, you can bring them out and set them up, in

some cases in a matter of minutes. So what is a vignette, display? According to Webster’s Dictionary, a vignette is a “brief scene, as in a play or a movie.” In villager talk, a vignette is a smaller, self-contained, complete display — and for our purposes here, preferably portable and easy to store. Of course, a vignette display can be of any subject and is most interesting when





6 Photo 1: Little Town of Bethlehem by Sue Chretien. Carved foam base (faux sandstone) and homemade palm trees. Photo 2: Alpine Ski Run. Constructed by Don Gorman, painted by J. Mike Sanders. One of two snowcapped railroad helixes on Don’s HO scale model railroad layout. Constructed of plaster and painted to simulate rock. The snow is white elastomeric roof coating. Photo 3: Poinsettia Basket by Sue Chretien. A very simple display featuring “Melinda’s Poinsettias & Mistletoe,” a variety of poinsettias and careful placement of complimentary accessories.


7 Photo 4: Sleigh Maker Sleigh by Sue Chretien. North Pole “Santa Sleigh Maker” and accessories are placed within a floral arrangment and set in a wooden sleigh. Photo 5: North Pole Music Makers by Sue Chretien. Piano top display with a collection of North Pole buildings and accessories placed on and around various sized gift boxes, featuring Peanuts® animated quintet. A Santacapped Beethoven sternly looks on…da-da-dadahhhh! Photo 6: Merry Makers Basket by Sue Chretien. A wicker basket trimmed with gingham bows cradles the Department 56 “Merry Makers” monks as they are quite busy with their holiday preparations.

8a Photo 7: Disney Railroad Stop by Mary Jewel. Magnetic train by Mr. Christmas®, encircles a collection of Disney and North Pole eateries. This display sparkles with miniature LED snowflake lights (from Walgreens™) strung through the display. Photo 8: Wine Tasting for Two by (a) Sue Chretien, (b) Mary Jewel. Two different vignette ideas revolving around the fruit of the vine. Featuring “E. Tiplers, Agent for Wines and Spirits,” and from building accents, “French Bistro Scene.”

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lights, camera, action you combine Department 56 buildings with everyday items you have around the house, or other collectible collections. Following are several examples of vignette displays; small and large; some simple; and others, more complex. As you review each photo and description, I hope that you will get some ideas of what you might tackle to get you through the dog days of summer and give you a giant, head start on setting out your village collection as the holidays approach. The creators of the vignettes are noted in the accompanying captions. My thanks to them for allowing me to show off their handiwork! If you have a question or comment, please write to me at Until next time, Happy Villaging! u




12a Photo 9: Remembering Happy Trails to Arizona by Sue Chretien. Charming vignette featuring table décor from the gathering and other cherished memorabilia from the event. Personalized with a photo of the Marshall and her Deputy. Photo 10: Valentine Vignette on the Commode by Edie and Phil Volk. Snow Village pieces “Sweetheart Candy Shop” and the “Chapel of Love” grace the powder room at the Volk’s exclusive display house.



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12b Photo 11: The Nativity by Linda Brittain. Simple Nativity scene, set on a purchased base. Beautifully highlighted with a lighted, acrylic star and a glittered, starry sky background. Photo 12a & 12b: London Landmarks built by J. Mike Sanders for Debbie and James Norling. Featuring four London landmarks set in a 36-inch nitch. Scene is highlighted by a halo-lighted silhouette of the London skyline.

New England Village Word Search By Linda Kruger

Find and circle the Word List names of New England Village速 series buildings and accessories in the Word Search (excluding punctuation). Good Luck! Word List

The Dirty Owl Peekytoe Crab Shack Tucker Point Light Corwin House To A Good Day's Fishing Another Crabby Christmas The Lightkeeper's Hobby New England Nativity Another Cat For Mrs. Corwin

Winner of the April/May 2013

This puzzle is sponsored by:

Puzzle: Tom Figliolino, Littleton, Colo. Congratulations, Tom!

Prize for the June/July 2013 Puzzle: "Salem's Farm" 4025353, from the New England Village, Salem Willows sub-series, Department 56, website ( Deadline for Entries: Entries must be received by Village D-Lights no later than July 6, 2013. One winner will be randomly selected from the valid entries.

April/May 2013 Solution

To Enter: Complete the puzzle. Send it or a photocopy to: Village D-Lights / Word Search P.O. Box 2516, Waterloo IA 50704 Or Fax: 319.824.3414.

Submitted by: Name Address City ST


Phone Email

No Purchase Necessary. One entry per person or household. Puzzle must be completed correctly to be a valid entry. Village D-Lights and Department 56 are not responsible for lost, incomplete, illegible, misdirected, misdelivered or delayed entries. This offer void where prohibited or restricted by law, and is subject to all applicable federal, state and local rules. Odds of winning depend on number of valid entries received. Winner responsible for all taxes resulting from receipt of prize. june/july 2013



Display ideas, hints and opinions

By David spears

Just So You Know... . . . Eight-year-old Alex was looking at our New England Village when he spotted “An Artist’s Touch” — the Department 56 accessory featuring an artist with an easel. He said we must have added the painting that is on the easel. The reason? It was paper. He was sure when he spotted Enger Tower high on our display. Our tower is a homemade version of a local landmark and was the subject of the painting. . . . I’m wondering if the Department 56 Snow Village “1955 Ford” automobiles will work in most of our our Lemax™ ‘50s display. Even though I’ve always been a Chevy guy, I’m going to see how these would work in “Jukebox Junction.” 28


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. . . Kathie’s Christmas & Collectibles in Camp Hill, Pa., is no more. The owners, Kathie and Bill Hughes, have retired. The location reopened as a Christmas Tree Hill (there are 11 other such stores). Kathie’s Web site remains the same: www. . . . We are using the “goodie bags” we received in Chicago in 2012 on a regular basis. Linda likes the look and says they’re just the right size. I continue to use the “goodie bag” I received at the Minnesota event in 2008. I’m sort of a retired guy with a briefcase — just so you know! . . . In our part of the country, summer is the best time for rummage and garage

sales. I mention this because we have found a bunch of interesting stuff for our villages searching these sales. Estate sales can be even better. The ads seldom list Department 56 anymore, so you have to look a bit harder. Sometimes, “Christmas” in the ad is a clue. They don’t know prices any better that we do, so you should haggle. . . . I finally found a small model of a Cirrus aircraft (a Duluth, Minn. aircraft manufacturer). I visited the company and came away with a 3.5” x 4” x 1.5” Matchbox® model of their SF50 Vision™. We like to have local items in our displays and even the small one will be a nice addition. One of the things that makes their planes unique is the airframe para-

chute. Note: our model doesn’t have the parachute. Visit . . . Lemax seems to be featuring dogs this season — a dog with a letter carrier on skis; more dogs with wreaths; a dog being given a bath; a puppy being kept warm; a dog pulling a child on flying saucer; a dog running alongside a paperboy on a bike; a dog in a trailer; and a dog with a snowmobile. Note: I found them on an overseas Web site, but the same items have been available in the U.S. in past years. . . . When our February/March Village D-Lights arrived, we read the article by Leigh Gieringer. The photo showed many non-Department 56 Chinese accessories and people. Wife Linda really likes the people from Streets of Old Hong Kong. They’re expensive but very nice. I sure hope she doesn’t find out who sells them. . . . I saw a photo of the new Department 56 Christmas in The City “A Classic Find.” It’s a classy lady carrying a statue. She coordinates with the new “Soho Shops.” I liked both, but money and storage space limits our purchase of houses. The lady however, is a different situation. I can easily see her coming out of “Architectural Antiques,” “Heritage Museum of Art,” or maybe one of the fancy department stores. “Soho Shops” looks like it belongs next door to our “Molly O’Brien’s Irish Pub.” Time will tell if that happens at our house. . . . Now, what is a fellowship porter? Fellowship porters were men who carried measurable goods (grain, coal, salt, and the like) on and off ships moored in the Thames and in and out of warehouses. . . . I spotted “A Jolly Good Tune.” It’s a three-piece group of street musicians that coordinates with the also new “Six Jolly Fellowship Porters.” Both are 2013 Department 56 Dickens’ Village intros. We don’t buy a lot of Dickens’ but I really like the looks of the house. The interesting use of stone, wood, and stucco and the slate roof drew my eye.

. . . We found a Santa Claus to use in our display parade — the North Pole “Santa & Mrs Claus,” #56090 from Department 56. We placed them on the back of a small flatbed truck. They weren’t the traditional last in the parade, but they looked good anyway. Thanks for all the Santa suggestions! . . . I think I forgot to mention that Linda and I sent in our event registrations for the October 2013 Northeast Harvest Gathering. We are also scheduled to be among the seminar presenters. Please stop by and tell us if you read this column.

. . . We attended an artist’s reception at the library in Superior, Wis. Items I thought might work in displays were laser-carved, wood Christmas tree ornaments. They are approximately four inches in diameter, so they’d have to be used in something other than a realistic way. The booth that offered them was run by Robert W. Moniasque, . . . If I were into Harley-Davidson® motorcycles, I’d feel Department 56 was taking good care of me. They have added two “Harley Roadside Cabins,” named “Flathead” and “Panhead,” to go with the “Harley Roadside Motel.” There are also two new Harley Davidson Snow Village accessories: the “Harley Campfire” and the “Harley Ever After.” I know what a campfire is, but I’m not so sure what to say about an “ever after.” Oh wait, it says “can be used as a cake topper for the many Harley-themed weddings.” I believe I’ve got it now — a wedding couple on a Harley. . . . It took me awhile to figure out that the name Bond Street Shoppes is the collective name for a new 2013 sub-series. june/july 2013



Display ideas, hints and opinions “Arabella’s Millinery,” “Miss Lavender’s Soaps & Sachets,” and “C.D. Boz Ink & Pen Co.” are the beginning of this sub-series in Department 56 Dickens’ Village. They each have an accessory. Now, I have to go back and see if I have the pieces in the sub-series of Devon County and Gaslight Pubs correct. I may be confused. I’m sure someone will let me know if that’s the case. . . . I don’t know if we’ll ever have the new “Sophia’s Pizzeria” from Department 56 Original Snow Village. But maybe, just maybe, we’ll find a way to use the accessory, “Hot Pizza Fast!” We do eat pizza most Friday evenings and you can never tell, we might need a little scooter to make the delivery. . . . North Pole has its first shiny piece, “Katie’s Candied Apples.” I understand Department 56 wanted the building to look like a real candied apple. Note: Village North Collectors Club member, Adelaide, heard me talking about this and ordered or received one. The folks at the meeting liked it. And yes, it is shiny and cute! . . . We have had a couple of Department 56 automobile license plate frames for awhile. We thought of using them to frame small vignettes. Our friend Carol suggested using them to frame pictures of displays. We’re going to have to work on that. . . . I just came across the images of the Department 56 circus we saw on their Web site. Just wondering, whatever happened with the circus idea? . . . Ruth Buerkle died in February. Many of you may have met Ruth and her sister Grace Williamson, at Department 56 gatherings. One was feisty, the other calm and easy going. They definitely were the “first ladies” of Department 56. Linda and I were so fortunate to have spent time with them. . . . I have to remember to use more people on our roofs next year. That would include chimney sweeps, sailors with telescopes, super heroes, Homies, etc. . . . 1949 and 1959 Ford sedans and coupes 30


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from American Heritage Models™ are available in factory colors and have lots of detail: white sidewalls, chrome trim rings, outside mirrors, radio antenna, and side-widow trim. Some even have fender skirts and cost $26.95 each. Call Diecast Direct Inc.® at 800.718.1866 or visit www.diecastdirect. com. If you like older Fords, take a look. . . . Found a popcorn bag with fireworks. A small bag but would work nicely as part of the background in a carnival or 4th of July display. These are available at Funburst Bags, Chicago Ill. I saw these at Viewcrest Health Care Facility, Duluth, Minn., where I enjoyed the popcorn. . . . Visited our new Hobby Lobby® in Duluth, Minn. We saw: 1/43-scale slotcar items; small people from Scene Setter which were too small for our displays, but not bad looking; bridges and archways; moss; lots of different ribbons; and TOOBS people by Safari Ltd®. I hadn’t seen the British and Continental army people before. They also had Confederate and Grand Army of the Republic soldiers; Woodland Scenic® trees which were small, but nice; and JTT Tree® scenery products — hedges and flowers were small and expensive, but looked good. We went back and purchased some flowers on our next trip. Our intended use is to make a small vignette for our real gardens and we needed some flowers. They are HO scale; a bit small, but colorful and should be a positive addition. . . . Department 56 “City People” provided more pedestrians for our Christmas In The City display. They had an old-fashioned look, but I like them. I was reminded to look for them when reading the words in Bob Dallow’s column, “Another Time, Another Place.” Village Chronicle, September/October 2004). He compared them to “Busy City Sidewalks” which were introduced in 1999. . . . Department 56 “Village Express Van” — there were 27 available in 2010. I wonder how many there are now? . . . Our friend Kathy brought us small Mexican blanket back from Mexico.

It will make a good background, foreground, or base for a Southwestern display — bright and colorful. . . . I discovered the solution for displaying my 1/43-scale cars in a small space. Solido™ makes an auto-transport that is designed to carry eight automobiles. The cost wasn’t shown, but other pieces were very inexpensive. I found the information in a Richard’s Model Car Auto Catalog, circa 1978! What do you think my chances of finding one are? . . .They’d look great on a shelf year around. They’re even lit from the inside. They are the Coca-Cola® stained-glass buildings from Franklin Mint®. The two I saw were a train station and a corner store. They might be out of place in most of our displays, but they sure are pretty. . . . I recently found receipts for Department 56 items purchased from Mainstreet, A&E Supply (Duluth and Superior), Wicks ‘n’ Sticks, Pam’s Hallmark, Engwall’s (Superior and Woodland) and Gordy’s Gifts and Collectibles. These were all stores that carried Department 56 in Duluth and Superior in 1996. Sadly, only one store remains open for business. . . . Some of the 2013 Lemax items from Barcourt, Australia, that I liked were: “Parade Photos” — a bunch of people watching a parade and taking pictures; “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” — a four-piece band in front of a tree; “Gazebo Band” — yes, musicians in gazebo; “Little Stone Steps” — a small set of steps; and “Stone Ridge Abbey” — for those who collect churches, this one is a bit different. . . . I’m thinking my expired Department 56 Platinum Visa® card will make a good village sign. It features four Heritage Village churches. I applied for the card when I attended the Department 56 25th Anniversary Celebration — never used it.            Your comments and ideas are welcome. Contact David at: spears.duluth@juno. com, 105 E. Toledo St., Duluth, MN 55811-2356 or call 218.724.6148. u

Village D-tails Price Guide & Village Handbook Combo V i l l a ge e g a l l Vi D-TAilS

3rd Edition



t 56 Serving Departmen Village Enthusiasts


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The Village D-tails Reference Source and Secondary Market Guide, 3rd Edition is complete with full color photographs of each item, an alphabetical index by name, and item number index. It is the only complete reference to list all buildings and accessories for all Department 56 Villages from their inception to January 2013. $29.95 value. Use the Village Handbook on your shopping trips as a record of your purchases to avoid duplications. Each item is listed with the Original Sale Price and Retirement Year to help value resale pieces, sorted by the Village series and release date. $4.95 value.

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from inspiration to creation

By Steffie Lederman

Manhattan Mystique Designer Tom Bates Has a New York State of Mind Tom Bates admits that he has found his “dream job” as a Department 56 designer.


hen Thomas “Tom” Bates attended college, matriculating at the University of Minnesota, he had definite aspirations. Among his goals were the opportunity to move to New York City, the chance to have his original paintings hanging in galleries, and the ability to wake up every morning in the city that never sleeps! “In college, I honestly always thought I would end up in New York City, or another city like it. I thought I needed to be around the action that a large city provided,” the Department 56 designer reminisces. Though his post-education years never brought him to the Big Apple, he has found himself taking a creative bite out of all



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that this thriving metropolis holds: “These days, a large city is the place where I get my inspiration for the work that I do!” The artistic 47-year-old has the enviable task of bringing some of the world’s most recognizable buildings and landmarks to life. Always creative and blessed with the ability to draw, Bates has found the perfect position to flex his illustrating and building muscles. “I grew up in Willmar, Minnesota, and I think my first recollection of hav“My second favorite building I worked on is the “Cathedral Of St. Nicholas.” My first favorite is the “Flatiron Building,” Bates affirms. It keys into his appreciation of New York’s high-rise landscape.

ing a passion for drawing was when I was very young, maybe early grade school. I remember watching my dad draw caricatures. One in particular that I remember was of a witch, which he seemed to draw very well. Believe it or not, I think I could probably draw it today from memory,” Bates reminisces. “From this time, I always felt a need to draw.” His hometown offered him lots of outdoorsy, physically-themed recreation: “Sports, along with fishing and hunting, were a major part of my youth. My art seemed to reflect this in my desire to draw and paint wildlife. When I was in high school, I started to paint duck stamps and would enter them in state competitions. This interest started from my love of duck hunting and my appreciation for my grandparents’ collection of federal duck stamps, which they had started collecting in the 1930s. In addition to this, I’d also sometimes draw and paint portraits of my favorite athletes.” This dual versatility — being able to capture the likenesses of fourlegged creatures as well as two-legged NFL or NHL heroes — set him on his career path. “After college, I had a job managing a fitness store, selling exercise equipment, and doing some personal training. It wasn’t until a friend introduced me to a hockey buddy, who did sports art for Kelly Russell Studios, that I found my next job,” Bates shares. As a try-out of sorts, the studio managers asked him to do a painting to give them a sense of his talents and style. “I remember doing a painting of Darryl Strawberry, of the Los Angeles Dodgers. This seemed like a great fit for me. They ended up hiring me on the spot.” Tom stayed at the Kelly Russell Studios for many years and was happy with this blend of his art background and his appreciation of athleticism. However, the company began to place an emphasis on photos over paintings and planned a move to California. Bates decided to look for another position. It was right about this time that he

Bates is proud of Christmas In The City’s “Cathedral of St. Nicholas”: “My assignment was to create a Gothic church. I settled on different cathedrals’ details. What I like is how it represents different churches to many people.”

saw an advertisement in the newspaper for “an artist who specialized in wildlife and in portraits. What is the chance of that?” Tom applied for the advertised position at a company called Department 56. He had no idea what the firm was, or what they produced. “I will always remember walking through the door for the first time,” he recalls. “It was June of 1997, the beginning of summer. And when I walked through the door, it felt like Christmas Day! There were beautiful Christmas trees decorated to the hilt, little buildings arranged like movie sets for It’s a Wonderful Life. It was very magical. I thought, ‘What a fun place to come to work!’” At his audition to fill the slot, he was asked to do renderings of Snowbabies in

When Bates applied for a job with Department 56, he was challenged to draw an original snowman. It served him well when he worked on the North Pole “Instant Snowman Kit Factory.”

profile and side views; plus, draw an original version of a snowman. “I was thinking, ‘What does this have to do with wildlife and portraits?’ But I was intrigued! Looking back, I think they wanted to find someone who could draw realistically. It was hard to wait to find out if I had gotten the position. I had a few more interviews and then it was offered to me.’” Once Tom was hired, he was utijune/july 2013



from inspiration to creation

lized as a “jack of all trades.” He did repaints, drew side views of art for other artists, and made models for the house designers. “Every day was new and exciting, and always with a different experience. It wasn’t more than a couple of years before getting my chance to start designing buildings for the villages. That’s when I found my niche at Department 56.” Bates’ dream to be a part of the hustle-and-bustle of New York City came to his drawing table. Rather than packing up and heading east, Manhattan came to Minnesota. “One of my past buildings — that I am the most proud of — is in the Christmas In The City line. It is definitely the “Flatiron Building.” I have always admired the architecture from the ‘turn of the century’ in New York City. The Flatiron Building is one of those early skyscrapers that grab my attention,” he declares. Joining that slice of architectural splendor is this year’s “Chrysler Building,” also designed for Christmas In The City: “It has always been the one building I wanted most to do; but more importantly, the collectors have asked me to do this building more than any other. I think it is the most beautiful skyscraper in the world! I can’t wait for our collectors to see it in person. I am so happy to finally have designed the “Chrysler Building.” 34


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Christmas In The City enthusiasts have long awaited this edifice as part of their Village collection. The real Chrysler Building — its height and majesty, along with its Art Deco detailing — challenged Bates. Views of the building were rendered from all vantage points. Before completion, it reached the crucial pre-production model stage. “With the approval sample, we can make color changes, feature changes, and, if necessary, sculpt changes. In this photo, I am adding a unique light feature to enhance this piece. Our feeling, regarding this building, was that it needed that extra pop; and that pop is the addition of a series of super-bright LED lights to set off the top of my building.” The efforts and energy were well worth the finished results.

Accessories for the "Chrysler Building."

Debuting alongside the building in 2013 will be three distinct accessories. Bates wasn’t involved in creating those, but he is an unabashed admirer of them. “There are three different designs that our collectors will find all equally appealing. You have your steelworkers heading home after a long day on the job, yet still having a smile on their faces. Second, is a young woman photographer taking photos from a street corner. This piece was inspired by Margaret Bourke-White, a famous photographer of the era. And yet, maybe my favorite is the architect William Van Alen dressed up as the Chrysler Building for a grand belle ball just after the grand opening!” he reveals. Taking a vacation to New York City is still a pipe dream for Bates, but it would have to be a family-friendly jaunt. Married for 14 years to his “wonderful wife, Traci,” the couple both works full-time, leaving them just enough time to cheer on their two

children from the sidelines. “We have a daughter, Isabella, who is 11, and a son, Isaiah, who is 10. Our schedules are very busy and our kids play sports year-round. It’s hard to find time for anything else but being a full-time chaperone. Still, I wouldn’t change it for anything. I love it!” In his younger days, Tom got some of the travel bug out of his system when he journeyed to England. His time there serves as the bedrock for much of what he accomplishes as a Department 56 building designer: “I think my travel to London was my first eye-opener to the amazing architecture of the world. The history behind such buildings as Saint Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey, for example, are truly amazing. To imagine how buildings as grand as these could be designed and built so long ago is incredible and inspiring. In many ways, Bates still marvels at how he found his way to this company and to this very comfortable, very compelling niche.

Among Bates’ earliest drawing recollections is his father’s caricature of a witch. Perhaps that memory helped to spark his handiwork on Halloween Village’s “Be Witching Costume Shop,” one of his favorite undertakings.

“When I look back, I remember so many people trying to get me to take classes on architecture and computers while I was in school. I wouldn’t because I felt I was going to be a painter. Now, using computers and drafting architectural designs, that’s my job, and it’s one I love so much,” he asserts. “No matter the event I go to for Department 56, the collectors are always wonderful, energetic people with a passion for the Villages. I always come back home energized by their excitement for the work we do!” This face-to-face mingling is like being a Broadway superstar and a worldrenowned, big-city real-estate developer rolled into one — a combination Tom Bates wouldn’t have any other way. u

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June/July 2013