Do you want to set up a display in your home but you are tired of the blank all-snow base? You want some more texture and color? Well we felt the same way, so we did some searching and came across Village Vignettes.
We get many compliments about our wonderful platforms that Mike Landry (the creator and mastermind of platforms) from Village Vignettes created for Gift Spice. They have really cut our set up time down many hours and they make the Lemax products really stand out. We decided to do a short interview with Mike and learn a little more about his hobby and his creative process.
How long have you been a collector?
Mike: Christmas villages run in my family. I remember being fascinated by the scene that my grandmother would set up on top of her piano every holiday season, and I have a picture of my dad setting up his own village when he was a teenager. It's a family tradition, and something I hope to pass on to my own kids someday.
I started collecting my own Lemax Christmas pieces in 2013 as a way to expand on the village I inherited from my grandmother. I bought my first Spooky Town pieces in 2016. The villaging bug bit me hard and I haven't looked back since.
When and why did you start creating your own platforms?
Mike: I created my first modest platform in 2013. I've come a long way since then in terms of design and technical ability, but those rough, unpainted styrofoam hills will always hold a place in my heart.
I started creating more elaborate displays because I was never satisfied with the traditional "cotton snow" look, and as a way to bring my creative side into the village hobby. The buildings in my collection have such fun detail and life, I want to bring that same life into the entire display.
I live in Massachusetts, where I'm surrounded by the beauty of New England, and I use that beauty to inspire all of my platforms. I'm constantly finding inspiration in the world around me, whether it's a stone wall in the woods, the cobblestone streets of Boston, the docks in a seaside town, or an old barn standing in a field. The changing seasons also give me unique insight into designing anything from a wintry snow-covered Christmas display to a summer 4th of July festival.
Yes I do! I've built large table-sized displays with multiple levels and smaller platforms for one or two houses. I've also done "accessories" like billboards, waterfalls, and rivers. I love working with people to come up with a unique idea that will really bring their display to life.
I have an Etsy shop (etsy.com/shop/villagevignettes) where I take custom orders and occasionally post pre-made platforms for sale. I also share my work on Facebook (facebook.com/villagevignettes) and Instagram (instagram.com/villagevignettes) and I'm always open to taking commission requests from social media or email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The time it takes to finish really depends on the size and complexity of the platform; a small 2x2 foot display may take a couple of weeks, while a larger 6 foot long display could take up to 2 months.
There are no templates or shortcuts involved in my craft, and this is only one of my side hobbies, so it's definitely not a quick process. I always take as much time as necessary to make sure that my platforms truly bring a client's vision to life.
This is a hard question to answer because I use a wide variety of tools, from hobby knives to toothpicks. However, I couldn't do my work without the tools from Hot Wire Foam Factory, and the workhorse of my collection is their Sculpting Tool.
Focus on a theme. It's easy to get carried away buying every new building and accessory you see in a store, but I think when you're just getting started it's better to start with one theme and expand from there. This gives you a guideline when it comes to buying new pieces, especially if you're on a budget. Think about the pieces in your collection, and whether a new piece will fit. If you have a collection of small town houses and stores, would it make sense to stick a North Pole train in there?
I'm not saying don't collect more than one theme, but this is a tip for those just starting out. My Christmas display has a shopping district, residential area, and mountain forest, but the buildings are arranged in a way that blends each theme together and makes sense as a cohesive display.
I can't stick to just one tip, so here's a closely related runner up: It's OK to expand your collection slowly over time. A small set of three buildings, some accessories, and a few figures can be just as beautiful as a gigantic, sprawling village that takes up an entire room. Remember, this is a fun hobby not a competition; there's no rush and no need to keep up with the huge collections you may see online.
Here are some awesome photos of a few of his creations: