Marion woman creates Santa spindles
Don’t throw away those old wooden spindles. Elaine Ewert of Marion can use them to create pieces of Santa art.
Ewert was an art teacher for 15 years. She had a friend who collected Santas. One year, she gave Ewert the idea of painting Santas on spindles. The idea took root, and she has been doing it for more than 20 years.
The wooden spindles come tall and short, fat and thin. They originate as chair spindles, porch posts, staircase balusters, table legs, candlesticks, and salt and pepper shakers, whatever has been turned on a lathe.
Each spindle is painted a dark brown and features a distinctive Santa face complete with a flowing beard. Some are candleholders and others stand alone as decorative items.
“I have to decide where to put the face and allow enough room for the beard to flow down,” Ewert said. “I try to make every face different. Each one has its own personality.”
She said she finds herself studying people’s faces with beards to generate ideas on varying her Santas.
Ewert has built a reputation for creating spindle Santas, and people often deliver spindles to her door at 816 E. Main St. in Marion.
“We had a garageful of spindles this summer,” she said.
Sometimes, people bring pieces from furniture they want to remember by having them painted with a Santa face. Ewert said one such customer found a spindle after her house burned down and asked her to turn it into a keepsake piece.
She offers her creations for sale during an open house the first Sunday after Thanksgiving. She takes appointments the following Sundays until Christmas.
Ewert said some shoppers study the faces carefully and look for one that speaks to them. Each spindle is dated, so collectors often buy at least one every year. She sells some pieces in southeast Kansas, where she grew up.
Prices vary, depending on the size and intricacy of the piece.
Ewert also paints snowmen, scarecrows, and rabbits on spindles.
“I usually don’t have many pieces left at the end of the year,” she said.
Her husband, Gary, puts the bases on the spindles and helps to sand them. They work together during summer to prepare the items for painting.
Ewert works for Marion Head Start. She regards Santa Spindles as a hobby as well as a business.
“It generates Christmas money,” she said, “and it is a way to use my talents since I’m not teaching art anymore. It keeps me busy.”
Last modified Dec. 4, 2014