VillageVignette Creator Mike Landry

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.

How each base begins
Completed base

 

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.

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The Arrival of Our 2017 Village Box Sets

Spring has officially arrived and so have the Department 56 Village Box Sets featuring some new pieces! These not only make a great gift for yourself, but are a great option for a Mother’s Day or Father’s Day present. The best part? You don’t need to worry about picking accessories or additional pieces, we’ve done all the work for you!

Original Snow Village, 56 Street Brewery Box Set

56 Street Brewery: For your favorite craft beer connoisseur! Delight them with Department 56’s take on your local brewery. Unfortunately this box set does not include any pale ales or IPA’s but it does include a bag of snow, the 56 Street Brewery, and accessory.

Original Snow Village, Golden Cross Church Box Set

 

Golden Cross Church: Add this lovely Snow Village piece to any Christmas scene. The snow outside reflects a kaleidoscope of color cast from the stain glass windows that adorn Golden Cross Church. This box set includes a bag of snow, tree, Golden Cross Church, and caroler accessory.

North Pole Series, Merry Lane Cottages Box Set

Merry Lane Cottages: These festive hats have an even more adorable story to tell no matter where you choose to feature them. North Pole best friends Minty & Glitzy live next door to one another. The sculpted details include a woodpile in the back, mailbox, brass doorbell, and a special charm hung from each roof. This box set includes a bag of snow, two lit houses, accessory, and a tree!

Dickens A Christmas Carol, Xmas Carol Poulterers Shop Set

 

Xmas Carol Poulterers Shop: Add these pieces to the classic Dicken’s Village! The centerpiece for many Victorian holiday dinners were goose, duck, or fowl but at this Olde Camden Town Poulterer on Cratchit’s Corner a large prize turkey is the winning holiday feast. This box set includes a bag of snow, the Xmas Carol Poulterers Shop, and accessory.

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Spring 2017 Must Haves

Begin to shrug off your Winter blues as we head into Spring! The new season welcomes leaves on trees, chirping birds, blooming flowers, and soaking up some sunshine. However, one of the greatest parts of Spring are the mild temperatures that encourage opening up all of the windows to let the breeze refresh your home. Delight your spring time guests with your decor by adding some of these beautiful and bright Department 56 pieces.

village

New England Village

As the snow begins to melt (for some of us) refresh your décor in anticipation of April showers and May flowers. The New England Village collection has a few Spring pieces in particular that would make a warm and welcoming vignette in an entry way or conversation starting bookcase addition. Add in some potted Marigold’s and you have yourself a quick and easy display!

New England Village, Nantucket Tulips & Garden
New England Village, The First Taste of Spring

Snowbabies

Snowbabies Classic Collection

Bring the perfect sentiment to any baby shower with these fun “Peek-A-Boo” Snowbabies with either a pink or blue pastel blanket. You could even get a head start on Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 14) and Father’s Day (Sunday, June 18) gifts! The beautiful detail and timeless design are a piece that can be treasured.


Girl’s Night Out

Glamping

Snowbabies really do say it all! No celebrations on the horizon? Show your love for some of your favorite Spring time activities such as hitting the road with the windows down or planning a picnic.

 

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Department 56: Bookshelf Styling

Christmas Lane – Original Snow Village

In areas of your home such as the living room it can be almost impossible to avoid open shelving. Not only can bookcases double as showcase-worthy storage for all your favorite treasures, but you can also style your reading material to look design-savvy. Before beginning transforming your bookshelf into a fun photo-op, you’ll have to get rid of any items that you don’t want on display. Try to narrow the focus of your shelf to roughly 6 or 7 items.

Chowtown- Panda Palace

YOUR FOUNDATION

  1. Books. Well, it is a BOOK case after all. Keep your favorites on display or purchase something for the sake of the cover design.
  2. Tall accent pieces. Each shelf should have layered heights. If your shelves are tall make sure to include tall items or it will look like something is missing. If you don’t think you have anything tall enough, improvise by stacking books and placing an object atop.
  3. Picture frames. Keeping a few simply designed frames to tell your story is incredibly important. This is your home!
  4. Greenery. Adding a few faux or real items can bring some life to your shelves.
  5. Objects of interest. Break up the monotony of straight and repetitive lines that books can create with unique items such as geometric spheres, vases, or geode crystals.
  6. Boxes. Pretty and functional! Depending on what you choose this is an opportunity to bring in additional textures, designs, and the perfect way to hide any smaller treasures.
Snowbabies- Beary Good Friend

THINGS TO AVOID 

  1. Not having a plan. Although jumping in is exciting, make sure you have an idea of where you want your items to go! The easiest place to start is deciding on how you want to organize your books- by color, author, size? The possibilities are endless!
  2. Unnecessary objects. Unless you are a librarian, you probably don’t need every book you own on display. By spacing out the books and breaking up the spaces with an item such as a vase or art makes it more visually appealing.
  3. Size does matter. Larger items help create visual landmarks for the eye to follow so that you are not too overwhelmed. When you start styling your shelves consider starting with the larger items and fill in the blanks with accessories.
  4. Ignoring white space. Incorporating interesting items can be fun, but make sure to remember to leave white space. Just like when you look at a photo your eye will want space to rest between visual elements.

 

 

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