Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Spindle Santas

We have a collection of spindle Santas that I have bought as presents for my husband over the past few years.  They are made by an amazing local artist named Barbara Tierney and we love putting them out every year.  The story as to why I bought them is one of those inspiring, sad, frustrating, happy, and celebratory stories.

The story starts back in 2005 when my husband, who is an academic, was madly finishing a book he had been writing all year.  He assured me it would be completed by the end of the year.

When I was out at a local Christmas craft show in Toronto and saw these spindle Santas,  I was immediately taken with Barbara's amazing talent, but also loved that she used vintage staircase spindles.  We got to talking and she said that she could personalize them in any colour, shape, style etc.  I took her card and then contacted her later to see if she could make me one to commemorate the completion of my husband's book.  

That Christmas I gave hubby the short red one on the left holding a copy of his book.  

Don't you think Santa looks a little worn out - pretty much how my husband looked at the time.  Any of you who know writers will know that it always takes longer than you think to get a book finished and off to the publisher.  Well Christmas 2005 came and went and we all enjoyed our new spindle Santa - and hubby contiued to write! 

During 2006 the one book hubby was writing, morphed into four books.  By Christmas 2006 hubby assured me that this was it - all four books were going to be done within a month or so.   I contacted Barbara again and had her make two more spindle Santas to give to my husband for Christmas.  

This time I had her paint a Santa holding the remaining three volumes -

and a Santa wearing sunglasses and holding a bottle of beer - relaxing!

You might think that is the end of the story - but oh no!  It's never over till it's over when you are writing a book.   Just as my husband was finishing his books in February 2007, the publisher told him they were not going to honour the contract and would not be publishing any of the books.   That was a dose of bad news, I can tell you.  So my husband wrote to other publishers and finally found one to publish two of the four books, but they had to have a different title and needed to have more work done on them since the new books would no longer be part of a set.   Sometimes things work out for the best, though, and according to my husband, all that extra work on the books actually gave him the time and incentive to really improve them. 

Both books got submitted to the new publisher by June 2007 and one was published later that year and the other in early 2008.   So for Christmas 2007, I gave hubby two more spindle Santas each holding one of his books.  

In September 2008 we had a book launch party to celebrate the publishing of the books with family and friends.  Since the books were about a 19th century English periodical, an afternoon tea seemed very fitting.  I've included a few photos of our afternoon tea because it was just so much fun.

We had fantastic weather for the party and everyone was out in the backyard 

The flower beds that hubby worked so hard to make look their best for the party
The food table with tea, scones with clotted cream and jam, finger sandwiches, fruit, and squares
Books and materials used by my husband in writing his book

Just this past month my husband got word that he has a publisher for another book.  He will be using much of the material from one of the original four volumes, but it will need extensive re-writing, including some new material and an introduction.   

I see another spindle Santa in our future!
Linked to Sentimental Sunday at Sit Relax and Read


  1. Awww....what a great story.....so happy to hear this one!!! I didn't know that publishing a book is so hard, I mean I have heard that it is not easy but wow.....a lot of ups and downs!!!! The spindles are charming and very interesting!!!
    Margaret B

  2. Now that's what I call a cherished family heirloom. What a creative idea! My mother and I have been trying to get a childrens book with illustrations published for years... oh, how we know the trials and tribulations.

    Congratulations to your husband, and Happy Holidays!

  3. Hi, thanks for visiting me and joining the party. What a great story. I love the Santas. Good for your hubby!

  4. Even without any knowledge whatsoever of the stories behing the spindles - they are beautiful keepsakes. Now they are beautiful and SPECIAL! Such a talented folk artist. I absolutely love them. ;)Sharyne

  5. What a beautiful story and the Santas are just gorgeous and such a great way to mark each period of his and your journey with the books!

  6. Congratulations to your husband! What an accomplishment.

    Your Santa's are really cute.

  7. What special gifts as a reminder to the happiness of having these books published. The Santa's are so cute!

  8. A wonderful post. Congratulations for hubby...a very happy ending to what could have been terrible. The spindle santas are lovely and each has a wonderful story to it. Treasure them well, take care.

  9. thats a great story... your santas are special.

  10. What a wonderful story.(minus the part about the publisher changing their mind!) I must admit when I first saw the Santa's..they weren't really my thing...but after hearing the story...I LOVE THEM! What a great family heirloom they will be. What a thoughtful gift.

  11. Grace, I'm getting caught up on my blog reading. What a wonderful post and how great that your husband got published, but also that he has another book in the works! I love that you commemorated his achievements with these darling spindle santas, and what a lovely tea you held in honor of him!

    Kat :)

  12. AMAZING story, I love that your great grandkids will have these santas to pull out at Christmas and be able to retell stories about you and your husband. What an amazing way to mark each year. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story with us.

    Merry Christmas,
    Cha Cha

  13. I'm visiting from Sit Relax and Read. The Santas are so unique. I've never seen anything like them before. I love the personal story that each one has. They are treasures! Merry Christmas!

  14. i love the spindle santas! they are so unique, and what a great story. does the artist have a store or website?

  15. What a lot of work and huge disappointments. Sometimes you must wonder what keeps him going. Glad there was somewhat of a happy ending. Love those santas.

  16. Does Barbara Tierney have a website showcasing her spindle art? I can't find anything on her.