Thursday, December 4, 2014

Artist Spotlight : Valerie Atkisson

Our Stainless Steel Nutcracker Mantel Piece captures the joy and merriment of the holiday season using silhouettes of scenes from it's beloved namesake.  Meet Valerie Atkisson, the woman behind one of our most popular holiday items.  She is opening up to us about her journey as an artist, and her dedication to creating this American-made piece from start to finish.

Q. Can you tell us a little about how you got started in your career?

A. I lived all over the United States while growing up. When asked where I was from I would reply, "Everywhere." As an artist I realized that I did not have a location that I was from, but I knew a great deal about whom I was from. Thus was born a body of work that explored my identity and ancestry. This exploration took me back 2000 years in time, across continents and led me to discover forgotten stories, dates and people.

Q. What inspired you to design a piece based on Tchaikovsky’s beloved ballet?

A. As a child I enjoyed several years of ballet lessons, but eventually other pursuits claimed my interest. As an adult, I remembered the strength and sense of being in-tune with my body I had felt as a dancer, and took up ballet classes as a hobby. My renewed love for ballet, combined with fond memories of attending The Nutcracker during the holiday season, were the inspiration for Nutcracker.

Q. How is the Nutcracker Mantel Piece made?

A. First I research my source material.  Then I draw general sketches to figure out how to organize the piece. Then I make a detailed drawing on paper and then cut them out by hand. This cut out piece is scanned by a CAD scanner and is transferred to a digital file.

I then make final changes that are easier to make digitally than by hand.  It is then cut out on a laser cutter.  I was pleased to be able to get the nativity made locally in Salt Lake City, Utah rather than go overseas. The cost of producing the nativity is more, but I feel good knowing that I, and my customers are supporting US business.

Thank you Valerie!

Click here to purchase our Stainless Steel Nutcracker Mantel Piece, a scene of iconic images from the ballet including the large Christmas tree with presents underneath for the children, Clara’s brother admiring the windup doll that Herr Drosselmeyer has brought for them, Clara’s joyful dance with her beloved nutcracker doll, the sword fight between the Rat King and the Nutcracker, Clara on her bed ready to strike the Rat King with her slipper, Russian and Arabian dancers, and the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier dancing for Clara and the Prince.

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