It’s no secret that the UK is THE place to be for all things gnome. Check out a couple blogs from international gnome journalist, Alyssa, to get inspired to a trip across the pond!
Have you ever looked at a tree and thought, “Hey! There’s a gnome stuck in there and I should rescue him!”
Maybe not, but believe it or not, there is a guy who’s made it his life’s mission to save trapped gnomes from forces beyond their control. And he calls himself the “Gnome Dude.”
Stephen R. Feilbach, a Kansas City, Missouri native, has been carving faces that resemble gnomes for many years. Now he’s taken his art to an extreme level and created Gnome Nation, a liberation movement that’s taking America by storm…one beard and pointy hat at a time.
According to Stephen, gnomes began hiding in trees many years ago because people were stealing their hats (which hold magical powers, of course).
How DARE they?!
But apparently, this little self-preservation plan backfired because many of those tree-dwellers became trapped. This is where Stephen steps in and comes to the rescue.
With a little chainsaw magic of his own, Stephen frees the trapped gnomes…then he takes his rescue mission one step further. He adopts out the freed gnomes to loving homes, spreading that quirky joy that only gnomes can bring.
Disclaimer: a re-gnoming fee may apply to fund travel expenses.
“It just keeps growing and people are contacting me from all over the world,” Stephen said. “Now I’m obsessed with releasing or saving gnomes everywhere and adopting them out.”
Gnomes (and humans obsessed with gnomes) tend to be nature lovers and stewards of Mother Earth. So it should come as no surprise that the wood Stephen uses for his carvings is 100 percent recycled. This means no tree loses its life to allow a gnome can live! Rather, the wood is sourced from dead trees that have passed on to meet their maker.
Stephen’s gift for seeing gnomes trapped in trees and his passion for releasing them doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows him well.
“All of my life I have danced to the beat of my own drums, so most of my friends and family are not surprised by anything I do anymore.”
So what’s next for the “Gnome Dude”?
So far, Stephen’s gnome-freeing mission has taken him to the Kansas City World Series, Davenport, St. Louis, Central Missouri, and beyond. Stephen and his gnomes have traveled from Maine to Mexico and all over the U.S. – visiting farmers’ markets, festivals, and oddball shops along the way. This summer, he’s headed to Colorado, Texas, and wherever else the wind blows as his following grows and more people discover the magic of his ingenious creations.
So what’s the best way to support Stephen’s mission and welcome one of his gnomes into your own home?
The Gnome Nation Facebook page is a great place to start, because that’s where you can get in touch with Stephen, keep up with his travels, and catch him on the road. He’s been known to leave rescued gnomes behind in shops across the country and update the page with posts to point potential adopters in the right direction.
Adoption fees start at about $125 for an 18-inch original carved gnome and $500 to $2,000 for a 3-to-5 foot gnome. Stephen has also made gnomes that soar to over 10 feet tall! You can hire him for custom chainsaw carvings and live entertainment, and he’s even starting to create some gnome paintings on the side.
At the time this article was written, Stephen had freed over 30 gnomes, but was well on his way to reaching his end-of-the-year goal of 100. He does all the carving and painting himself by-hand, but thrives upon the inspiration of people that he meets on the road.
“I’ve always loved taking people’s ideas and making them real,” Stephen shared.
Gnome enthusiasts and artists, like Stephen, are part of a steadily growing international niche community that I, for one, and proud to be a part of.
When asked about the biggest challenge posed by freeing gnomes from trees, this was the Gnome Dude’s top complaint:
“They won’t stop moving before they’re finished!”
About the Author: Alyssa is an Atlanta-based freelancer and gnome fanatic who writes for the International Gnome Club and manages a team of gnome bloggers at The Drunk Gnome. This year, Alyssa’s epic travels will take her to the UK and Belgium to visit The Gnome Reserve and the gnome-themed brewery, Brasserie d’Achouffe.
We had a nice quiet weekend in the countryside planned and welp, that just got thrown out the window!
Why, you ask?
Because we just remembered that Metro Gnome Music’s 3rd annual Gnome Fest is taking place TOMORROW!
We have issued a gnome-wide alert to cancel manicures, find pet sitters, and disappoint distant relatives. It’ll all be worth it, because this year’s Gnome Fest is set to be even better than last year.
Read My 2013 Post About Gnome Fest: Let’s All Go to Tuscon on Saturday!
The festivities are taking place tomorrow October 18th at 4044 E. Speedway in Tuscon – between the hours of 11:30am and 6:00pm.
Once again, this crew will be trying to break the Guinness Book World Record for the Largest Gathering of People Dressed as Garden Gnomes. The current record is 468.
Let’s blow that lame number to smithereens, people!
But alas this is a music shop, so the fest is also all about the music.
According to a Metro Gnome press release, Amosphere, led by 2005 Grammy Award finalist AmoChip, female-fronted trio Copper & Congress, multi-format ensemble group Genevieve & The LP’s, the 90’s alternative/grunge rock band Lollapaloozers, and the self-described “opposite of robots”: Sorry About The Garden.
There’s gonna be some weird freaking contests, including prizes for the fastest Twinkie eater and quickest Brompton Bike folder. What am I looking forward to the most? That’d be the Gnome Wobble Contest.
Stumped by those three words strung together in a sentence? Watch this wobble instructional video and boost your pop culture quotient. It’s at 3pm, and gnomes have no patience for tardiness.
Haven’t we always been telling you how much gnomes and animals get along? Metro Gnome Music will be selling gnome hats for $5 and $2 of each one will go to the Humane Society of Southern Arizona. Woof! Meooooooowwwwww!
Love eating out of a motorized vehicle? There’ll be plenty of food trucks, like You Sly Dog and Gigi’s Mexican & Peruvian Fusion to satisfy your obscure cravings.
We’ll see you at the fest!
Kamikaze, your last-minute party guide gnome
Whew! We’ve just gotten back from a whirlwind west coast tour with lots of gnome sightings along the way. I can barely catch my little gnome breath, but never fear! Plenty of gnomish travel reports are in the works and headed your way soon!
Just as one adventure wraps up, I’ve found another place to go….Scotland!
Allow me to introduce you to Robert Rae, a 64-year-old who’s spent the last eight years filling his yard with over 1,000 lawn ornaments. Take browse through the photos in this Daily Mail article to get a glimpse of all the gnomes and gnome friends who’ve taken up residence in Caol – the largest village in Scotland.
“It gives me something to do,” Rae explained. “I never thought it would end up like this when I started but the children enjoy it. There’s still room for more”
Rae used to be a telephone box cleaner, but couldn’t return to work after having a heart attack. Honestly, lawn ornament decorating seems to be a much more pleasant profession.
He’s won all sorts of awards for his amazingly quirky yard, but some a**hole vandals recently broke in so he had to install surveillance. Our hearts go out to the broken gnomes.
Alright gnomies, let’s pack it up for Scotland, because this place surely deserves a visit!
Sheldon the retired, but not entirely retired, travel gnome
Okay has anybody been to Rock City?
It’s around Chattanooga, Tennessee, and although we gnomes have passed through the area a couple times, we still haven’t’ had a chance to visit.
The oldest one of us living around The Gnome Abode was born in about 1970. But Fips has got nothing on the Rock City gnomes.
Rock City is a big amusement-type attraction, but what we really care about seeing is the trail with all the gnomes living along it. Some of those gnomes have been greeting visitors since the 1930s, so obviously they’ve grown a little tattered and torn over the years.
“They fit perfectly with Rock City because we are trying to make this a place where you can stop and appreciate what you don’t always get to because we are always on cell phones and don’t see our surroundings,” longtime employee Joy Giles told News Channel 9.
A dude named Matt Dutton is to thank for keeping all these ancient gnomes in tip-top shape. He looks at old photos to keep the gnomes’ coloring consistent and paints and repairs them as needed. Matt uses urethane resin and a hardner to fills his handmade molds, meanwhile restoring each little one’s unique personality.
“They become little sculptures, little pieces of art and if people understand that maybe they will have more appreciation of what they are looking at,” Dutton said. “This isn’t just a gnome, it’s a handmade gnome here in Chattanooga.”
Looks like we found ourselves another reason to head back down to Tennessee!
Happy Friday gnomies!
Caesar the Gnome
PS – for more great photos of the Rock City gnomes, check out SeeMidTN.com!