"What a wonder life I've had! I only wish I'd realized it sooner." Colette

Dec 6, 2014

Holiday How-To: Kringle the Red



It began with a barrel.  One afternoon I discovered a wine barrel perched not far from my door.  A relative is storing various items with my landlords, and ever since The Desolation of Smaug, I couldn’t get barrel-riding dwarves out of my head.

“Sure you can decorate it,” the owner said, even though he hadn’t seen the movie.  I still have a few gourds lying around so I figured I’d use one for the head, and that’s as far as I got.

Perusing my favorite department store, Goodwill, I began by picking up a little boy’s flannel shirt.  That’s when I looked up and saw the piles of stuffed toys on the shelves above the racks.  I tried my little shirt on one good choice after another until I found my barrel-rider:  mostly face; not too Santa-ish.  Around the craft section I found two bags of raffia, a mop head doll kit and an unpainted angel with spike which would make a great sword.  Cost me less than 10 bucks. 

My instructions are not overly detailed since inspiration should only be suggestive, but even if you don't feel particularly creative yourself you’ll see it’s not that hard to pretend.  Consider the following more as guidelines...


First thing I tried was busting the angel off the spike but it splintered, which worked out OK anyway.  I figured I’d paint the angel afterwards, but the wings remind me of Bozo’s hair so the jury’s still out.  Squint your eyes a bit and think outside the box.  Of course, it helped reverting to a kid and mimicking “Aragorn” in the aisle.  I grabbed my DVD cover as a guide while decorating my sword, and the most fun was gluing on fake stones and glitter.  Always.

One thing I love about Bilbo’s companions are their hair and beards.  Long fuzzy braids arranged oh-so artfully.  I had no idea how to proceed so I began by snipping the mop head in half until it started falling apart on me.   I then grabbed several strands at a time and began braiding, still without a real plan but enjoying the therapeutic experience nonetheless.  To hold the ends together I pulled strands through gold grommets until my hands ached, then switched to small pieces of pipe cleaners wrapped around the braided ends.


That led to the idea of twisting two pipe cleaners together to form a flexible loop to hold the hair on the head, and since I planned on using a my traditional Santa hat with pom-pom (doesn't everyone have one of those?), it could cover the mess.

I poked long braids halfway with the pipe cleaner to keep them from slipping, and just used an overhand knot to attach unbraided strands. Shorter strands and braids were looped around his bulbous nose, and I made a separate loop for the beard.  He probably would have been fine without the mop head, but since it cost me a buck...


Shirt sleeves were stuffed with raffia and the cuffs tied with more pipe cleaners (which also help hold the weapons in place).  The sword was good proportionally but I wanted balance.  An unfinished wooden mallet was quickly streaked with color, and I attached two bead-laden leather strips at the end with an eye hook.  Oh-so menacing.

I didn’t really care for either Santa hat so I grabbed two scraps of red felt and started tacking (with needle and thread) to the existing hat until I was happy with the look.  I put him on a pizza pan for ease of handling and had fun spinning him around, playing hairdresser while trimming the ends, unraveling the braided ones a bit.  Swiped the poof, tacked it to the top and voila: Kringle the Red!

I pulled the barrel underneath my awning for protection and sprayed Kris with water repellant in hopes of preventing pink hair from the mist (successfully, so far, with our fine Northwest weather).  I wrapped a big rock inside the back of his shirt to add stability and added a bit of colorful bunting for decoration.  Always makes me smile.

“You can do that…you're artistic, or creative, or imaginative,” I’ve heard more than once in my self-taught, starving-artist life.  But if you ever looked at clouds in the sky and saw things, you’re creative, too.  You’re just out of practice.  Good thing kids are like sponges, so show them this idea even if you couldn’t imagine, and watch them go to Lake-Town.

Happy Holidays, fellow Barrel Riders!

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Original gourd art designs Copyright 2018 Andrea Jansen Designs. Please write for permission.