Ok, it’ true confessions time, who plays the video game “Candy Crush”? Show of hands? Who not only plays it, but is addicted to it? That’s better!
Ever wonder about how it came to be? Me, too! “Candy Crush” is a product of King Digital Entertainment, based in London, with studios in Stockholm, Sweden. The game’s inventor, Sebastian Knutsson, is credited with creating 10 of the company’s 15 worst games. I guess that means that it only takes one success to be remembered and the failures can long be forgotten.
Experts tell us that part of the fun comes from being able to play the game for free, although there are paid incentives to climb levels more rapidly. It must be a matter of patience to play the same level for hours before your capture all the correct candies.
Department 56, eager to appeal to fans, whether they be youngsters, or long time players of the game and collectors of Villages, entered into a licensing agreement for the rights to produce not only the “North Pole Candy Crush Factory”, and two adorable accessory sets, but a variety of iconic ornaments to hang from the branches of your Christmas tree. Look for “Mr. Toffee”, “Tiffy” and many of the brightly colored candies so familiar to players of the game.
We discovered VillageVignettes owner, Mike Landry, on Instagram and loved the detail of his Village displays. There are so many possibilities when it comes to creating a display, and his attention to detail is impressive. We wanted to know a bit more about Mike and what inspires him to create these intricate scenes.
An Interview with Village Vignettes Creator, Mike Landry
1. What are three words your friends and family would use to describe you?
Creative, enthusiastic, and fun.
2. What are your hobbies?
When I’m not working on or thinking up ideas for my next village display, you can usually find me spending time with my family (my wife, new baby boy, and our dog), drawing, playing video games, listening to audiobooks, tasting craft beer, or tinkering with house projects.
3. Where are you from/where do you currently live?
I grew up in a small town called Shirley, Massachusetts, about an hour west of Boston. I moved around the state a bit through college and early adulthood, but I’ve never lived outside Massachusetts. My wife and I eventually bought a house in Shirley, about 10 minutes from where I lived as a kid. That’s where I am now, raising my own family in my hometown.
4. How long have you been creating Village displays?
I’ve been building foam display platforms for about 3 years now, but my love for holiday villages has been around much longer than that. I was always fascinated by my grandmother’s Christmas display, a wonderland of fluffy white cotton and fun little houses and figures. I was honored to inherit most of her pieces and still proudly include them in my vignettes today.
5. What was your first display design?
My first foam display platform was very simple compared to the detail I add now. I started with scrap bits of white packing styrofoam and managed to cobble together a basic town square with a small mountain to one side. It had a few levels and some stairs, but no paint or carved stonework.
6. What are your “go to” tools?
I couldn’t do my work without Hot Wire Foam Factory’s tools. I use a variety of their hot wire tools, but the workhorse of the bunch is their sculpting tool. My next most-used tool is a hobby knife/box cutter and infinite replacement blades. The insulation
foam I work with is a sharp blade’s worst enemy, so I’m constantly replacing blades. My crafting utility belt also includes xacto knives, pens & pencils, aluminum foil rolled into various shapes, stones from my backyard, and a paintbrush with the bristles removed that I use as a cobblestone stamp.
7. Where do you find inspiration when you’re creating a display?
As I mentioned before I live in New England, where I’m lucky enough to find inspiration everywhere I look. From the brick and cobblestone streets of Salem and Boston, to the fields and forests of Central and Western MA, my state is full of inspiration for Halloween and Christmas landscapes. I’m constantly looking around wherever I go. There are so many stone walls, streams and ponds, rocky cliffs, and other details that are staples of any village display. Inspiration is always just around the corner
8. What is the most challenging part of designing a new display?
It’s definitely trying to work out the size of each piece and how they should all fit together. Sometimes I’ll design a generic display where I try to provide areas to display small, medium, and large houses; and other times I’ll work from a list of specific buildings and accessories with exact measurements. It’s an ongoing challenge to make sure that there’s enough space to display everything while leaving room for the details of the landscape to shine through. It’s also a challenge balancing my desire to put a ton of character and detail into my displays without them becoming overwhelming and distracting from the actual village collection being displayed.
9. What is your favorite Department 56 Village piece?
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is one of my all time favorite Christmas movies, so I think this answer is a no brainer. I added The Griswold Holiday House to my collection last year and I couldn’t be happier. I look forward to eventually collecting the entire set, but the house that Clark built is by far my favorite piece.
10. If you could create a display for anyone, who would it be and why?
I would absolutely love to create a display for the owners of Ralphie’s actual house from A Christmas Story. For those who don’t know, a fan purchased and renovated the house used in A Christmas Story, and it has now become a sort of museum and sightseeing destination. It would be fantastic to recreate scenes from the movie (using the wonderful D56 pieces of course) to display in their museum. If the A Christmas Story House owners end up reading this, give me a call!
If you’re interested in seeing more of Mike’s work, make sure to check out his Instagram by clicking here. We love seeing our customers creations! Make sure to tag us in your Department 56 Instagram and Facebook posts so that we can see them.
Over forty years ago, Department 56 began as part of Bachman’s, a premiere retail florist in Minneapolis. Bachman’s used a numbering system to identify each of its departments. The number assigned to wholesale gift imports division was, you guessed it, 56. Now headquartered in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, Department 56 has become a leader in the giftware, collectibles and holiday decorating industry and is best known for our hand-crafted lighted villages, Snowbabies™ figurines and extensive lines of holiday and home decorative products.Have you ever wondered how your favorite holiday accessories are created? The process that goes into creating our Village pieces is an intricate one but can be broken down into 7 key steps.
1. Ideation meeting: Each season our brand managers and artists sit down to discuss what Village pieces to create. First, they review what pieces have been created in the past and how our customers received them. Second, they review if any pieces have . Finally, they discuss suggestions given by our collectors and customers.
2. Sketching + Drafts: After the concepts are decided on the Village artists get to work! This entails creating detailed sketches of all four views as well as a top view.
3. Creation of a paper model: The details from the sketches are then created into an actual paper model. It will be done to scale so that it can be placed and compared to past Village pieces.
4. Sculpting: Our Department 56 sculptor, Kiri, then begins making a wax model. When the wax models are created it is taken into consideration that the pieces will shrink in size during the firing process. This means that our Heritage Village pieces are first sculpted 14% larger and our Snow Village pieces are sculpted 5% larger than how they will actually come out once produced.
5. Molds Produced: A factory then produces the molds, casts, and fires the pieces.
6. Samples sent for approval: The creations are then sent to Department 56 for approval. If a piece is licensed, it will also be sent to the liscensor for their stamp of approval. This is when any paint touch-ups or detail changes will be made.
7. Production: After approval from all parties the Village pieces are then put into production!
Are you interested in learning more about how our artists created some of the 2017 Village pieces? Join some of the Department 56 Village Artists on Wednesday, May 10, 2017 at 3pm CST for a round table discussion about some of our 2017 mid-year pieces.
Ever wanted to know what goes into creating some of the pieces? Now is your chance! Make sure to post any questions you have for our Village artists in our Facebook event. Take some time to check out our last Facebook Live event below!
You can now pre-order our 2017 Village mid-year introductions! These mid-year pieces feature a variety of beautifully detailed houses and accessories that are sure to make any collector smile. Some depict heartwarming scenes while others make the perfect spooky addition to any Halloween enthusiasts collection. Make sure to comment and let us know which is your new favorite! These are some of our favorites but you can click here to see all of our 2017 mid-year introductions.
Snow Village, Home for the Holidays
Gaze through the window of this festively decorated Queen Anne home for an exciting interior scene-a tiny ‘Snow Village’ that decorates the mantel. Outside is a heartwarming scene of a young man who returns from proudly serving in the military to loved ones that have anxiously waited his arrival…including his adorable furry friend. This Snow Village piece comes as a set, which includes the house and two accessories pictured.
Dickens Village, Yarmouth’s Discovery Bay
Imagine the waves breaking against a rocky landscape and embrace childhood memories of adventure with this detailed Dickens Village accessory. The accessory features two friends, a boy with his sailboat and a girl with her telescope, enjoying outdoor adventures with their pup. We certainly think they’re an adorable group!
This accessory pairs perfectly with the Great Yarmouth Light, a beautifully detailed Lighthouse. The stone and stucco Lighthouse also features an adjoining house for the light keeper.
North Pole Series, Paws to the Rescue
Add a fun element to your Village display with this quirky piece! This North Pole elf patrol comes to the rescue with his trusty St. Bernard to help out on the bunny hill.
This accessory pairs perfectly with Sugar Mountain Lodge. It’s one of the most fun places at The North Pole – skiing on top of the world at Sugar Mountain. Elves can practice their ski jumping moves right from the roof with the built in ski ramp! Hillside action can be viewed from the upper story balconies. Any skier or snowboarder will appreciate the attention to detail on this piece, which truly captures the spirit of an older ski lodge!
Halloween village, Rest in Peace 2017
This year we bring the annual crypt as a mid-year gift set, which includes 2 wrought iron fence sections and a coordinating vampire figure. The crypt includes interior lighting that changes colors. Just add a fog machine nearby for some delightfully spooky decor!