‘Tis the Season

My favorite Christmas traditions are Nordic and, I must admit,  a little dark.  I particularly enjoy the movie Rare Exports, a distinctively Finnish story about the original Christmas dude, Joulupukki, who lived at Korvatunuri Mountain and was known for punishing little kids who misbehaved and who managed a crew of evil elves who stole children from their beds. Iceland is similarly known for Jolasveinar, the Yule Lads, who were tricksters and sons of trolls.  Their gifts were seldom pleasant—rotten food, for instance. They figure prominently in Elizabeth Hand’s post-punk noir murder mystery set in Finland and Iceland, Available Dark.


This is my Christmas elf for 2013; he’s appropriately red and green.  He is little more than a head, hands and feet made out of sculpting clay that you bake in the oven. His eyeballs are recycled batteries.


Here’s more recycling (below), a very satisfying part of my Christmas experience; I shop as rarely as possible.  These are my little ladies made of “artificial tears” vials and batteries and miscellaneous pieces of stuff. They will be part of an exhibit of “Southern whatnots” scheduled for next fall and also I plan to include them in art-o-mat boxes once I have 50 of them made.  And some of them may end up as gifts.


I will also design more little panels like these (below) for people to arrange in various ways.  I’ve been making them to sell and auction, and some to give as gifts, along with little books with fairy tales I’ve written. I think all the stories must include versions of me; I’ve given one to each of my brothers and sisters this year.



After New Year’s it’s back to bigger projects, but making these little doo-dads has been relaxing and fun.

Happy Holidays!

About Lillian-Trettin

I grew up in the Appalachian "Bible Belt" of East Tennessee in the southern United States, listening to banjo music and gospel lyrics as well as the Beatles. As a kid, I was curious about religious rituals like speaking in tongues and snake handling but resistant to the fundamentalist thinking they involved. Flannery O'Connor's tales of religious fanatics, con men, bigots, and the spiritually bereft or ambivalent resonate for me. Despite having traveled widely and lived in other places, I am (as so many Southerners claim to be) permanently "South haunted." I returned to making art full time in 2011, following a career as a teacher, researcher, and consultant and after raising two sons. I’m convinced the delay enriched rather than impeded my growth as an artist.
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2 Responses to ‘Tis the Season

  1. Beth Hannabass says:

    I’m excited to be on the receiving end. I keep telling myself there will be a point in my life when I stop shifting other’s stuff from room to room and take time to create. In the meantime, I’m glad you’re able to. Love the little people and the troll/elf is everything he should be. We’ve watched the movie a bunch of times.

    • ltrettin says:

      THanks Beth. What I find is that it takes me spending a lot of time home by myself, to get stuff done, then getting outside myself and reconnecting with others to try to “do” something with with the things I’ve made. It’s a mixed blessing sometimes, sort of Jekell and Hyde-ish.

      Hope you enjoy all that good family time over the holidays.


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