Meeting the makers – an elf's nine to five

retro elf print by TheGinghamOwl

image: holiday elf print by TheGinghamOwl 

This month OMHG editor Jessika has asked contributors to embrace the fun of the festive season and make posts fun – so I caught up with an old friend, Binky the Elf, on Skype, to find out how he manages his creative business in the busy weeks leading up to Christmas.

561-year-old Binky lives and works in Lapland, where he designs and makes traditional wooden toys for Santa Claus to give to good children at Christmas.

Thanks for talking to me Binky.  Can you tell us a little about how you ended up making toys for Santa?

“I learned how to make toys from my dad.  He was always carving wooden animals for us when we were little, but I wasn’t confident that I could do it for a living.”

“My first job was shovelling snow for the chief elf, then when I turned 100 I decided I had to make some changes in my life and do something that I was passionate about.  Designing and making beautiful and unusual toys was a dream for me – but one that’s come true!”

The competition to work for Santa must be enormous.  How did you make your toys stand out?

*smiles*

I wanted to make sure I got his attention.  So I carved a wooden model of Santa’s sleigh, complete with elves and reindeer, then I made some tiny toy presents to go inside the sleigh, and carefully packed them in a miniature red sack that my mum made.”

“Then I delivered it by hand to the big guy himself, catching him as he left work one evening.  He loved it, and asked me to come and work for him straight away – the model sits on his desk even now.”

What’s it like supplying such a key client?

“It’s a good life.  We work shifts in the lead-up to Christmas to make sure we get all the presents ready on time for the kids.  I normally do the early morning shift, from 6am until lunch, then a few of us grab a bite to eat in the cafeteria with the reindeer.”

“You can’t get better than working alongside your best friends, doing something you love, and singing along to All I Want for Christmas is You by Mariah Carey.”

We love to take a peek inside other crafters’ creative spaces – can you tell us a bit about where you work?

“All the elves work in Santa’s workshop – it’s a large facility with seven smaller workshops inside.”

“My craft area is in the wooden section, and is the perfect space – I have all my chisels around me, photos of the kids on the walls, and a box of wood under the desk, from birch and oak to pine and beech.”

“But the best thing is there’s no need to pack it all away at the end of the day.  I just set my tools down, switch off the little light above my workstation, and head home!”

Your job is very seasonal – can you share any tips on how you manage your workload?

“You’re right that the end of the year is crazy for all the elves, but we make the most of the quieter time in Spring and Summer by revamping our product ranges and overhauling the workshops.”

“In March 2011, I had the time to work on the design for a new wooden kart and it’s been one of our most popular toys this Christmas.  Those seasonal lulls are essential to keep the creativity fresh.”

What are you most looking forward to after Christmas?

“I’ve booked a week away in Paris for the family in January, so we’re all counting down to that.  It will be nice just to have a little more time to focus on the simple things like watching the Northern Lights and catching up with friends.”

Thanks so much, Binky, for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us here at OMHG.  Good luck with the end of year rush and have an amazing holiday in the new year.  wWe look forward to seeing next year’s new product range.

Follow Santa Claus’s progress around the world online and tell us how you manage the demands of Christmas in the comments below.

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