Description[Click to show/hide]

Pirjo Polari-Khan, the artist, with a Dr. Marshall's private collection of Tonttus at his office.

I made my very first Tonttu for my children 21 years ago. Both my children are grown up now! Tonttus are displayed in our house every Christmas but they don't mind at all to be part of your life all year around.

I have designed and handmade my one of-a-kind Tonttu boys and girls to be part of Christmas tradition hoping they will be loved and passed as an heirloom from one generation to the next. 

Tonttus require painstaking detailed work involving more than items. Only a very limited number is made annually. Every Tonttu is signed, dated, numbered and given a name with the name day. In Finland we have a long tradition of celebrating name days. For example my name day, which I share with Pirkko, Birgit and Piritta, falls on October 7th.

Due to the fragile nature of the ceramic head and hands and clothes that they don't take off please handle Tonttus gently.

 

 


Artist\'s Comments [Click to show/hide]

 What is Tonttu?

It’s widely believed that Santa Claus comes from North Pole however all Finns know that isn’t true; Santa Claus -or Joulupukki as he is known in Finland- works and resides in Mt. Korvatunturi, Finland. If you want a proof, just sent him a letter addressed Joulupukki, Korvatunturi, Finland and he’ll reply you.


Joulupukki’s little helpers are known as tonttus -brownies or elves in English. Most tonttus live at Mt. Korvatunturi making presents for good girls and boys but there are also tonttus who live at farms. They are named after the places they are assigned to look after: stable tonttu, cowshed tonttu, sauna tonttu etc. Some have ventured in the cities and they are known as home tonttus. Tonttus also look after pets and wild animals and they are able to talk with them.


Tonttus are seldom seen by human since they work at night. By nature tonttus are very shy and private but once in a while you might catch a glimpse of the red pointed cap they wear and hear the tingling of the bell fastened on their felt boots. Tonttus are usually kind and good natured and don’t ask much for their labor; just a bowl of porridge and glass of milk. However, if you happened to forget to put their food out at night, they can play tricks on you. It has happened to me quite a few times so before I set to work, I make sure they are well fed.


PS. Don’t forget to put your Christmas wish list out on the window ledge. The tonttus will come and take it while you’re sleeping.


About the Artist [Click to show/hide]

Pirjo Polari-Khan

I was born in Seinajoki, Finland.  In my family there were artists, writers and musician so art became a way of life to me from an early age. I wasn't good in handicrafts at school so It even surprises me that I chose ceramics as my career. At school my mind was always somewhere else making up stories and I became a straight A writer. After the graduation from high school I wanted to pursue a career as a journalist but didn’t get in the School of Journalism that year. Instead I travelled to England to work in a family as an Au Pair, as was fashionable in the 70’s. I stayed to study Ceramic at The Polytechnic of Wolverhampton. After graduating 1980 I moved back to Finland and established my own studio. I produced mainly traditional earthenware pottery in my Dad's garage to pay off my student loan.

Moving to California in winter 1980 had a dramatic impact on the direction of my art; functional and traditional pottery-making gave way to sculptures and wearable art. I convey my ideas and feelings through hand-build forms with a preference for a natural unglazed surface, accenting them with glazes and other materials such as bronze and glass.

During my career, my pottery skills and passion for sculpting have merged into objects that share concepts creating “functional sculptures”. The human connection with the environment is the main focus of my present work. Surrealism also has influenced the personification of nature in my sculptures. I draw ideas from Finnish mythology, European and Egyptian god/goddess cultures -for my humorous, modern-day Venus figures- and from artifacts of ingenious people of New Mexico.

 

 

Name: Tonttu dolls
Price: 350
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