There’s just something about gnomes that Cathy Steigleder can’t get enough of.
Ever since she was a girl she’s loved collecting gnome decorations and paraphernalia. Six years ago, when she was still living in Smithers, Steigleder decided to try making her own. After finding a simple crafting technique on Pinterest she gave it a try and said the result wasn’t great.
“It was terrible, it never left my house, believe me,” Steigleder, 68, said. “I just improved as I aged. I’d find a Santa hat and cut it down and now I’m getting better at making my own hats.”
To make a gnome she fills one sock with rice and then covers it with a different coloured sock to create her gnome’s body. Steigleder then makes little hats and decorations out of old sweaters, jeans, bandannas and whatever else she can find, often browsing the 108 Mile Ranch’s Sisters Thrift Shoppe for material. For a nose, she uses a carved wooden ball, noting it’s easier than her old technique of making it out of the sock.
“I really like the look of them. You start out with a Christmas gnome and then you find out you can make others,” Steigleder said. “I’m always invading everyone’s sock drawer for more socks.”
From start to finish, Steigleder said a gnome typically takes a couple of hours to complete. Beyond looking pretty when done, she said the gnomes also serve a utility purpose.
“If we ever get a famine I can just open my gnomes and have the rice,” Steigleder joked.
Gnome-making is something she enjoys doing in the summer and after work during the winter. Steigleder works as an educational assistant for SD27 and said that, next to gnomes, working with children is her life’s biggest passion.
When she eventually started running out of room in her home to store her army of gnomes, Steigleder started giving them away as gifts to friends and family. Her sister, Patricia Gaudreault, was one the most enthusiastic recipients and pushed her to start making new kinds of seasonal gnomes including garden, bumblebee and biker-themed gnomes complete with sunglasses and toy motorcycles.
READ MORE: World’s largest gnome needs a new home
She’s even made custom stoner gnomes for Club Cannabis and Cariboo Buds Cannabis. Steigleder said that was a fun project as she got to use rolling paper to make little parsley blunts for her gnomes.
Eventually, Steigleder decided to start selling her gnomes at farmers’ markets under the name Gnomemad. Since moving to the 108 Mile Ranch two years ago, she said demand for her gnomes has increased and she’s become a semi-regular at the 108 Heritage Market.
“The people are the best part. It doesn’t matter how grouchy they are when they walk by, they always smile at the gnomes. That makes it worth its while,” Steigleder said. “It’s that whimsical fantasy kind of thing. Gnomes are always happy.”