The Story of Jilly Gnomette

Lots of us like to carve Gnomes.  They’re cute little woodland characters that are fun to carve and can be changed up in dozens of different ways.  I’ve carved loads of them…little man Gnomes and even little woman Gnomes (Gnomettes).  Well, in honor of National Holocaust Remembrance Day I thought I would tell a two part story about a brave little girl Gnomette, named Jilly who lived during the dark times of the Holocaust.  I hope you will enjoy it.

The Story of Jilly Gnomette

(Part 1)

Jilly Gnomette

People will say that Gnomes live for a thousand years or more.  Some will say that all Gnomes are men.  There are those that believe that Gnomes always live in the garden.  That they began life as miners.  Then again, some people are sure that all Gnomes are made in factories, you know those statues we all some of us buy.  People disagree about Gnomes; some think that they are fun while others see them as evil.

Here is a story to believe or not, fact or fiction, it is yours to enjoy.

I thought about  Jilly for quite some time and gradually, as she turned some of the pages of her life’s story for me, she grew in my heart and I knew that I would write about…..

A little rosy cheeked Gnomette of indeterminate age who lived in an insignificant Wood near an unimportant German Village. She had been the local legend for longer than people could remember. A cheery, Motherly and generous tiny woman with her cat.

I expect the cats must have come and moved on to that great feline star in the sky, but as they were always the same ginger and white striped color, the myth was that cat was as old as the mistress, whatever that might be.

Jilly lived in a special little house, just three rooms, kitchen and living room down stairs with a bedroom upstairs and an attic for storage under the thatch. Smoke curled constantly from the chimney, a big open fire with a cauldron of bubbling stew kept the little house warm through the bitter cold winters while the aromas of baking invited many a traveler to stop for a chat and a meal.  The happy little house appeared to grow from the side of a hill like a mushroom; in fact, if you walked through the door from the kitchen you entered a cave.

Most people in the Village forgot about Jilly Gnomette and her cat in her house in the Woods.  Until they had a problem, that is.

There was a good Doctor in the village these days, Dr. Weinberg, but sometimes, the women would sneak away to Jilly for the help and advice they needed. Jilly knew the old ways, the herbs and remedies that their Grandmother’s Grandmother had used. Herbs to prevent pregnancy, to assist in childbirth, to alleviate the cramps and the flush of menopause. Advice for a child born…different.

Jilly was good with children, and many a little one survived childhood ailments because of her Gnome magic…herbs and commonsense.

People paid her with flour and sausage, an old coat or dress. Jilly was expert with a needle and could cut anything down to her size. Using the best pieces, she could make herself warm and comfortable clothing, the worst pieces she sewed together into rugs and patchwork quilts.

Children loved Jilly instinctively. She was little like them and a grown up besides, but she made the tastiest sweets. Sugar almonds and plums, wild dried berries and apple strudel. Her round cheeks would flush with pleasure to see the children gobble greedily at her treats and she would grab their hands and dance, round and about her garden, under the trees and down to the brook. Dancing and laughing until they fell into a pile of innocent happiness.

Jilly loved her life in the Woods, isolated but not alone. She had witnessed so many winds of change in her long life. Adventures, good times and bad.

Times of war and peacetime, the changes of borders and boundaries and the creation of the German States into one country under a King.  She knew of advances in medicine and automation, why people could now fly through the sky…how is that!

However, none of these changes touched her life. She was a wise little soul, a Gnomette who minded her own business, who lived on in her quiet little corner of Germany, close, but not too close to the village.

The affairs of men and the modernization of the outside World meant little to Jilly.  As she sat by a cozy fire, stroked the cat on her lap her only concern was about turning the grapes she had gathered…would it be jam this year or would it be wine and how many would she dry to add to her strudel and tortes in the winter.

She knew nothing of politics or power, of hate and deceit…of false allegations…how could such a sweet and innocent soul have any idea how the world was about to erupt with evil.  The 1914 to 1918 big bang, bang War had not disturbed village life extensively. Two boys had left to fight for the Fatherland and neither had returned. Families mourned their deaths but for Jilly, the war went virtually unnoticed. Warriors had been dying in battles throughout her life…Jilly was sad for the families as she had been before, as she was sure that she would be again.

Years rolled on gently, and then,

Politics and power once more played their part on the World stage while Jilly picked her fruit and berries her mushrooms and herbs. A couple of new houses were built in the village and a funny flag flapped idly on the front of Mrs. Dutschke’s Post Office/General Store.  Jilly’s little Wood stayed as it always had been. Great Autobahns were springing up across the German States. Highways mainly empty of motor vehicles but capable of carrying lanes and lanes of cars, Jilly was blessed that one of these cement monsters had not cut across her Wood.

Unrest and change had come to the area though and the village would not be forgotten as in earlier times. There was a bloody regime in power, one that was to be relentless in the pursuit of certain sections of the population. Hatred and prejudice had raised its cruel head and a terrible purge had begun. The Jewish section of the people were being collected and rounded up and were disappearing from their neighborhoods.  Gypsies, Homosexuals, the mentally challenged and sick, artists, actors and dwarfs…all these people and more were taken often at night, and no one knew where they were.  Gossip was whispered but most people turned and looked another way.

~ To Be Continued ~

Questions & Comments

This week we have a few questions sent in by Andy about the use of Walnut Oil vs Mineral Oil and BLO for treating carvings before painting.  Andy writes:

“Greetings once again. I’ve read your comments on the different possibilities for sealing carvings before painting. You state that your preference is walnut oil. Curious as to what is it about walnut oil that you prefer it over mineral oil. And it’s interesting that you don’t recommend BLO. From reading articles on carving I’ve thought BLO was the way to go but I’m rethinking that now. Might have to hunt up some walnut oil.



In my opinion, Mineral Oil is a good second choice to Walnut Oil but although it’s more expensive I like Walnut Oil  better because it is thinner (less viscous) than Mineral Oil and I like the way it soaks into the wood.  Mineral Oil is thicker and tends to float on the wood and not be absorbed as readily.  Walnut Oil also give the wood a slight tint which I like because it makes doing flesh tones much easier.

I NEVER recommend the use of BLO on wood carvings,  If everybody is jumping off the bridge that doesn’t mean I have to jump off the bridge.  So if everybody is using BLO that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the way to go.  BLO is highly combustible…Walnut Oil and Mineral Oil are not.  People have nearly burned their shops down from using BLO!  Secondly, BLO darkens over time, so when you apply it to your carving it will also darken over time (see the two photos below).

Walnut Oil is available in Home Depot, Lowe’s, hardware stores and on Amazon.

The photos below show the result of using BLO on your wood carvings.  The first photo was taken when the carving was first finished.  The second photo show what that same carving looks like just six years later.  You can clearly see the darkening effect that resulted from the use of BLO on the carving.

New Santa carving
Santa carving after 6 years

Next we have a comment from Gary Baker who seems to have a lot of butternut on his hands!

“I live in southwest Ohio and have 4 butternut trees in my yard. My brother lives close and has 40-50 on his property. I have cut limbs, dried them and carved them”

That sure is a lot of butternut, Gary!  Now we all know where to go to get butternut…hahaha!  I would love to see some of the carvings you made from it.

Special note to Jim Arnold:  Thanks so much for your two emails this week.  Unfortunately, the attached photos did not come through with the email.  Please try again and resend them to my personal email address which is:  Thanks!

Carver’s Corner

“Carver’s Corner” is the section where you can send in photos of your carvings to have them critiqued by me and get my truthful opinions on what you did right and where you might improve next time.  It’s an excellent opportunity to improve your carving skills!  Send your photos in to  Thanks!

We have no entries for the Carver’s Corner this week. 

Let’s go folks!  Why not send some carvings in and have them critiqued!  Don’t be bashful.

Photo Shop

“Photo Shop” is the section of Wood Chip Chatter where carvers can send in photos of their wood carvings for display. It’s your chance to show off your work…sort of a show and tell. The photos will only be displayed and no comments or critiques will be made.  For critiques on your carvings send them in to the “Carver’s Corner.”  Send your photos in to  Thanks!

Our first photo this week comes from Al Santucci from New Jersey.  Al sent a photo of a beautiful Scaup duck carving he did:

Scaup carved by Al Santucci

Magnificent job, Al!  A very attractive carving!

Next up we have Mark Klein who sent in some photos of the spectacular Santa bust he carved in Butternut:

“Sharing a Santa bust I carved in Butternut. Butternut has a beautiful grain pattern that can be taken advantage of to establish a contour flow accenting movement seen in the hat. Butternut is also ideal to carve delicate details, as shown in the Holly on the hat and details surrounding the eyes.

The block of Butternut I used was approximately 4″ x 4-1/2″ x 4″

Enjoy, Mark Klein”

Santa carved by Mark Klein – Front view

Santa carved by Mark Klein – Left front view
Santa carved by Mark Klein – Right front view

Santa carved by Mark Klein – Left side view

Santa carved by Mark Klein – Right side view

Santa carved by Mark Klein – Back view

Mark, this is an absolutely stunning piece of work!  I don’t see a single flaw in it and I just can’t say enough about the craftsmanship that went into carving it!  I would love to know how long it took to carve this magnificent piece?

Thank you so much for sending in this exquisite wood carving, and I hope to see more of your work in the future.


The Jersey Hills Wood Carvers (JHWC) club is a small but growing group of wood carvers sharing their time, knowledge and joy of woodcarving.  The JHWC generally meets from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm on the 1st, 3rd and 5th Thursday of each month (when school is in session) at the Jefferson Township High School wood shop classroom.

Membership is “FREE” and open to anyone interested in woodcarving regardless of their ability.

JHWC’s Upcoming Meetings and Events

Feb 3rd, 17th

Mar. 3rd, 17th

Apr. 7th

May 5th, 19th

Jun. 2nd, 16th, 30th

For more information contact:

Al Santucci  President

Bill Brunner  newsletter/website editor

Or visit:



The first meeting of the International Association of Woodcarvers will be held this Saturday, January 29 at 3:00 pm EST.  CCA member, Bob Hershey will be the presenter, and will be giving a demonstration on how to carve a floppy eared Easter Bunny bust.  You don’t want to miss this!

Zoom:  3104603575


1/29 – Bob Hershey

2/5 – Jim Hiser

2/12 – Tom Wilkinson

2/19 – Kevin Applegate

2/26 – Dave Francis

3/5 – Rich Schneider

3/12 – Roger Beane

4/9 – Joe You




I’m sure you all have some terrific carvings to share in my “Photo Shop” section.  Photos of your carvings help to liven up the blog’s appearance and make it more interesting.  Also, my “Carver’s Corner” is a great way to get constructive critiques on your carvings so you can learn where to improve on your next ones.  When sending in photos please specify whether you want them for display in “Photo Shop” or if you want me to critique them in the “Carver’s Corner.”  Send your photos in to  Thanks!


Send in your questions and comments so we can keep Wood Chip Chatter active and keep the conversations going!  Effective discussions are one of the best ways to learn about the topics that interest you.  Remember, there’s no such thing as a dumb question.  Plus we would all love to learn about the unique tips, techniques and products YOU use in your woodcarving process.

Keep a sharp edge and keep on carvin’!

I’m so old that when I go to a cafe to order a three minute boiled egg, they want the money up front.

Published by carverbobk

I’m a self taught award winning wood carver who has been carving since I was a teenager. I enjoy instructing other carvers, especially beginners.

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