Krampusnacht is tonight!

Krampus, Q. Cassetti, 2010, pen and inkKrampus is the dark companion of St. Nicholas, the traditional European winter gift-bringer who rewards good children each year on December 6. The kindly old Saint leaves the task of punishing bad children to a hell-bound counterpart known by many names across the continent — Knecht Ruprecht, Certa, Perchten, Black Peter, Schmutzli, Pelznickel, Klaubauf, and Krampus. Usually seen as a classic devil with horns, cloven hooves and monstrous tongue, but can also be spotted as a sinister gentleman dressed in black or a hairy man-beast. Krampus punishes the naughty children, swatting them with switches and rusty chains before dragging them in baskets to a fiery place below.


 Krampus is celebrated on Krampusnacht, which takes place on the eve of St. Nicholas’ Day. In Austria, Northern Italy and other parts of Europe, party-goers masquerade as devils, wild-men, and witches to participate in Krampuslauf (Krampus Run). Intoxicated and bearing torches, costumed devils caper and carouse through the streets terrifying child and adult alike. Krampusnacht is increasingly being celebrated in other parts of Europe such as Finland and France, as well as in many American cities.

More on Krampus:

Wiki on Krampus

Krampus illustrations on old postcards



Five out of six entries that got into Illustration West 49, Society of Illustrators, Los Angeles, by Q. CassettiMonkey, Q. Cassetti, 2010I was cruising Facebook to find out all sorts of people found out about Society of Illustrators, Los Angeles and what they got into their Illustration West 49 Show. I was combing my email looking for my note and kind of threw my hands up and figured I didn’t get in. But, I tried again late yesterday afternoon, to find out, yes, I did get it….and yes, I got quite a few pieces in! So, here is a posting of those images that got in. Now is the question of money and time…and whether it is worth spending a ton of money to get work framed and out to LA for a week’s show in Gallery Nucleus. Will need to weigh my options.

More talk later today. 

Advent Day 5: Krampus' visiting day!

Krampus v2. colored, Q. Cassetti, 2010, pen and ink/ digital color, from the second advent projectToday is the day. The big jingly monster will come to your house to either take you away or whip you. Kind of your choice, I guess.

Off to Corning to the Studio Sale. Last day of great stuff (the dollar table awaits) and then maybe a trip to Sams for some styling stuff for the house for the Xmas Xtravaganza (ie, the choral event). 

Yesterday was very peaceful. Alex went off with his team to do another Pinesburger Challenge (he ate 6). And Rob and I stayed home. I made more stock—but more elegantly, it was simmered on the wood fired stove we have (most excellent). And, I am on the last round of Xmas and may be able to get the boxes in the mail this week. Only snag was that the envelopes I got for my corporate card are too small. So a trip to Staples is in order too.

I love having the retail part of xmas out of the way. Now I can bake dog biscuits and people cookies. I can prep for the holiday cooking which would be excellent and buckle down on the work that comes at this time of the year.

We do have snow. And, it is sticking. Not quite Buffalo (I think they got a foot) but enough to count and sit heavily on the bushes.


Advent Day 4 : Pre Krampusnacht activities

Krampus v.1, Q. Cassetti, 2010, pen and ink, From the second advent projectOh yeah. Tomorrow is the evening that that jolly old demon visits all the frightened little children and beautiful young women in Austria and Hungary…shaking his chains, and brandishing his birch twigs to beat the children for their misdeeds all year. Oh, and if that isnt enough, Krampus also doubles as the boogie man, and will take those bad children away from their warm hearths and loving parents if the badness cannot be assuaged by beatings and fear. What fun! Another rollicking add to the Holidays! A tidbit from Wikipedia fleshes this out:

Krampus is a mythical creature. In various regions of the world – especially Austria and Hungary – it is believed that Krampus accompanies St. Nicholas during the Christmas season, warning and punishing bad children, in contrast to St. Nicholas, who gives gifts to good children. Due to German and Austrian influence, the myth of Krampus is also prevalent in CroatiaSlovakiaSlovenia and northern Italy.

The word Krampus originates from the Old High German word for claw (Krampen). In the Alpine regions, Krampus is represented by a demon-like creature. Traditionally, young men dress up as the Krampus in the first two weeks of December, particularly on the evening of 5 December, and roam the streets frightening children and women with rusty chains and bells.[1] In some rural areas the tradition also includes birching – corporal punishment with a birch rod – by Krampus, especially of young girls. Images of Krampus usually show him with a basket on his back used to carry away bad children and dump them into the pits of Hell.

Modern Krampus costumes consist of Larve (wooden masks), sheep’s skin, and horns. Considerable effort goes into the manufacture of the hand-crafted masks, and many younger adults in rural communities compete in the Krampus events.

In Oberstdorf, in the alpine southwestern part of Bavaria, the tradition of der Wilde Mann (“the wild man”) is kept alive. He is like Krampus in that he is dressed in fur and frightens children (and adults) with rusty chains and bells, but has no horns, and is not an assistant of Saint Nicholas.

In the aftermath of the Austrian Civil War the Krampus tradition was a target of Austrian Fascists allied with Nazi Germany.[2]

American Illustration (A129) accepted work:

Just got these three images into American Illustration 29. The top is Krampus from my advent calendar project, and the other two were part of Hartford MFA thesis project on valentines.

From AI 29's Facebook page:
Congratulations to our AI29 Selected winners ! From an impressive 8.033 pictures, the jury selected only 388 images by a majority vote or better to appear in American Illustration 29, representing the best images from 2009. A slide presentation announcing the winning images will be sent to all entrants and our member list of over 30.000 creative professionals in May.

Saturday in the New Year

Holiday decor is down and packed away. While we were at it, I measured my santon figures (Provencal Nativity characters) to find out they are #2 size. Marcel Carbonel have six different scales of figures from the average figure being 15 cm down to the smallest being on average 2.5 cm. I bought these figures when the wonderful knitting shop in Corning went out of business. Then, I bought more when we visited Nantucket the following summer.

I am thinking of starting collections for Kitty and Alex (and my nieces)--giving them a figure each by the time they are out of college, they will have lovely sets for their own mantlepieces.

So what to start with? An angel? or the big masterblaster, Jesus Mary Joseph--and then add so they have the core figures to start with. I should buy for price and see if ebay is a resource worth supporting.

Holiday Shopping Resources:

Erzgebirge Palace>>The Wooden Wagon>>
German Imports>>



Santons Marcel Carbonel>>

Santons de France USA>>

My Growing Traditions>>

I've learned a lot his holiday season about holiday traditions, holiday decor and the things that make me thrilled. Krampus, Pere Fouchette, Piet Zwarte, and others....the traditions of the Erzgebirge Mountains with nutcrackers, angels, smokers, arched candle holders, and more. I have also realized that despite my dislike of Christmas, I love the traditions and the imagery....intellectually. I think there is work here for next year to pursue and possibly license (?). Hangar work has changed out and is close to done. See here>>

Am working with King Arthur Bread flour using the dough hook on my mixer versus a bread machine to find out what type of results I can get. I made two types of pizza dough with traditional King Arthur (as I did over Christmas with a different yeast) and then with King Arthur bread flour. Same new yeast. One was a pancake the other was perfect. I made two thick foccaccia type loaves which I cut in half and made a type of deep dish pizza for dinner last night with all the leftovers on top. Every slice was consumed. Nary a crumb was left. We will see what happens today. This is a low effort and fun activity which can yield something to eat ( even a flop).

I am starting the Eustace Tilley illustrations this weekend. Here's what Wikipedia says about Eustace Tilley under their New Yorker entry:

The magazine's first cover illustration, of a dandy peering at a butterfly through a monocle, was drawn by Rea Irvin, the magazine's first art editor. The gentleman on the original cover is referred to as "Eustace Tilley," a character created for The New Yorker by Corey Ford. Eustace Tilley was the hero of a series entitled "The Making of a Magazine," which began on the inside front cover of the August 8 issue that first summer. He was a younger man than the figure of the original cover. His top hat was of a newer style, without the curved brim. He wore a morning coat and striped trousers. Ford borrowed Eustace Tilley's last name from an aunt—he had always found it vaguely humorous. "Eustace" was selected for euphony, although Ford may have borrowed the name from Eustace Taylor, his fraternity brother from Delta Kappa Epsilon at Columbia College of Columbia University.

Tilley was always busy, and in illustrations by Johann Bull, always poised. He might be in Mexico, supervising the vast farms that grew the cactus for binding the magazine's pages together. The Punctuation Farm, where commas were grown in profusion, because Ross had developed a love of them, was naturally in a more fertile region. Tilley might be inspecting the Initial Department, where letters were sent to be capitalized. Or he might be superintending the Emphasis Department, where letters were placed in a vise and forced sideways, for the creation of italics. He would jump to the Sargasso Sea, where by insulting squids he got ink for the printing presses, which were powered by a horse turning a pole. It was told how in the great paper shortage of 1882 he had saved the magazine by getting society matrons to contribute their finery. Thereafter dresses were made at a special factory and girls employed to wear them out, after which the cloth was used for manufacturing paper. Raoul Fleischmann, who had moved into the offices to protect his venture with Ross, gathered the Tilley series into a promotion booklet. Later, Ross took a listing for Eustace Tilley in the Manhattan telephone directory.

The character has become a kind of mascot for The New Yorker, frequently appearing in its pages and on promotional materials. Traditionally, Rea Irvin's original Tilley cover illustration is reused every year on the issue closest to the anniversary date of February 21, though on several occasions a newly drawn variation has been substituted.

Cute, eh? Lots of ideas here... More later.



This is the beginning of my little drawings on Zwarte Piet, a Dutch companion of St. Nicholas. Wikipedia neutrally describes him like this: "In the folklore and legends of the Netherlands and Flanders, Zwarte Piet ( pronunciation (help·info)) (meaning Black Pete) is a companion of Saint Nicholas (Dutch: Sinterklaas) whose yearly feast in the Netherlands is usually on the evening of 5 December (Sinterklaas-avond, that is St. Nicolas Eve) and 6 December in Flanders, when they distribute presents to all good children. The character of Zwarte Piet appears only in the weeks before Saint Nicholas's feast, first when the saint is welcomed with a parade as he arrives in the country (in the Netherlands by steam boat, from Spain), and is mainly targeted at children, who come to meet the saint as he visits stores, schools etc. He is sometimes associated with Knecht Ruprecht, but in the Low Countries the tradition has not merged with Christmas." Der Spiegeltouches on the true feelings around Zwarte Piet and his roots in Dutch colonialism. Piet has been transformed into a socially incorrect character who is rendered in print, animation and martzipan much the way Americans portrayed the "happy"character of African heritage. It is wildly disconcerting as the tone and feel of this companion is so wrong--and the tradition does not reinforce understanding and a broader thinking populace by teaching children racial stereotypes and likening it to candy and presents. So, how to portray this character without the bojangles-ism that is in the popular media today? I am going to keep trying...and see what evolves.

But, in my search to better understand Piet, I ran across this wonderful blog "Kats-In-Klompen" an online journal of an American artist, Judith Nijholt Strong. Her illustrations, photographs and daily observations are witty, beautiful and a happy insight into how another person is spending their time on this spinning orb. Judith got into the whole portrayal of Zwarte Piet verbally and through some very elegant photographs of people, cakes, store windows etc. So take a look. Judith also has a very interesting widget on her blog (free, so it is likely to come on my blog too) the "Link Within" widget, which shows related posts with thumbnails on your post. Take a look at LinkWithin>>

Alex is off to an indoor track meet. Kitty is working on her portrait for Tyler. Rob and Bruce are visiting and I am getting my wits together. I have completed four wreaths (and just gave one away)--so there is more wreath making this weekend along with maybe a Christmas Tree and the getting out of ornaments. I do have some pictures to make too. Hmm....what to start?

IF: Crunchy

Krampus Taking Away the Bad Children on December 5th, © Q. CassettiKrampus comes on December the fifth, little children are fearful of the crunch sounds underfoot. He has come to take away the bad little children or birch them with branches for all their misbehavior during the year. So, watch out. Krampus is coming.

changing the channel

This weekend was cooking and wrapping. Today is working and shipping. Need to buy stamps for all the holiday cards and get the boxes sitting in the hallway into the wonderbus and out of my house and into someone elses! I boiled down a turkey carcass yesterday--yielding some nice soup along with making some oatmeal cookies with all ingredients from around here. Additionally, I made a dinner for all the Cassettis with a great potato recipe from the December Good Food Magazine. All was devoured to our delight. Friday, we were surprised to have our half pig delivered to our happiness. This jackpot was sweetened by a lot of bacon and sausage, two hams, and all sorts of roasts and chops. We were given a chicken as a bonus. So, we tried the bacon on Saturday and the sausage on Sunday to our pleasure as it is very lean and delicious...and as we know where this creature was raised and who did the raising, it has even more appeal. We are so grateful to have been included in this select group as it makes being a localvore easier.

I have been researching Krampus--one of the companions of St Nicholas. He is one of many pals of Nick--each having their own local flavor and relationship. The French have "Père Fouettard (the whipfather), who is said to be the butcher of three children. St. Nicholas discovered the murder and resurrected the three children. He also shamed Père Fouettard, who, in repentance, became a servant of St. Nicholas. Fouettard travels with the saint and punishes naughty children by whipping them. In modern times he distributes small whips, instead of thrashings, or gifts." from Wikipedia

More from Wikipedia:
Often the subject of winter poems and tales, the Companions travel with St. Nicholas (also called Father Christmas or Santa Claus), carrying with them a rod (sometimes a stick and in modern times often a broom) and a sack. They are sometimes dressed in black rags, bearing a black face and unruly black hair. In many contemporary portrayals the companions look like dark, sinister, or rustic versions of Nicholas himself, with a similar costume but with a darker color scheme.

In parts of Austria, Krampusse is a scary figure, most probably originating in the Pre-Christian Alpine traditions. Local tradition typically portrays these figures as children of poor families, roaming the streets and sledding hills during the holiday festival. They wore black rags and masks, dragging chains behind them, and occasionally hurling them towards children in their way. These Krampusumzüge (Krampus runs) still exist, although perhaps less violent than in the past.

Today, in Schladming, a town in Styria, over 1200 "Krampus" gather from all over Austria wearing goat-hair costumes and carved masks, carrying bundles of sticks used as switches, and swinging cowbells to warn of their approach. They are typically males in their teens and early twenties, and often get very drunk. They roam the streets of this typically quiet town and hit people with their switches. It is not considered wise for young women to go out on this night, as they are popular targets.

In many parts of Croatia, Krampus is described as a devil, wearing chains around his neck, ankles and wrists, and wearing a cloth sack around his waist. As a part of a tradition, when a child receives a gift from St. Nicolas he is given a golden branch to represent his/hers good deeds throughout the year; however, if the child has misbehaved, Krampus will take the gifts for himself and leave only a silver branch to represent the child's bad acts. Children are commonly scared into sleeping during the time St. Nicolas brings gifts by being told that if they are awake, Krampus will think they have been bad, and will take them away in his sack. In Hungary, the Krampusz is often portrayed as mischievous rather than evil devil, wearing a black suit, a long red tongue, with a tail and little red horns that are funny rather than frightening. The Krampusz wields a Virgács, which is a bunch of golden coloured twigs bound together. Hungarian parents often frighten children with getting a Virgács instead of presents, if they do not behave. By the end of November, you can buy all kinds of Virgács on the streets, usually painted gold, bound by a red ribbon. Getting a Virgács is rather more fun than frightening, and is usually given to all children, along with presents to make them behave

Belsnickel is a companion of Santa Claus of the Palatinate (Pfalz) in northwestern Germany. Belsnickel is a man wearing fur which covers his entire body, and he sometimes wears a mask with a long tongue. He is a rather scary creature who visits children at Christmas time and delivers socks or shoes full of candy, but if the children were not good, they will find coal and/or switches in their stockings instead.

Zwarte Piet (Black Peter)
In Belgium and the Netherlands, children are told that Zwarte Piet leaves gifts in the children’s shoes. Presents are said to be distributed by Saint Nicholas aide Zwarte Piet; who enters the house through the chimney, which also explains his black face and hands. Blackfaced, googly-eyed, red-lipped Zwarte Piet dolls are displayed in store windows alongside with brightly packaged holiday merchandise.

Knecht Ruprecht
It is unclear whether the various companions of St. Nicholas are all expressions of a single tradition (Knecht Ruprecht), (since various texts, especially those outside the tradition, often treat the companions as variations of Knecht Ruprecht), or most likely a conflation of multiple traditions.

Knecht Ruprecht is commonly cited as a servant and helper, and is sometimes associated with Saint Rupert. According to some stories, Ruprecht began as a farmhand; in others, he is a wild foundling whom St. Nicholas raises from childhood. Ruprecht sometimes walks with a limp, because of a childhood injury. Often, his black clothes and dirty face are attributed to the soot he collects as he goes down chimneys."

I think there may be some pictures here as the concept of these very frightening cohorts of the Saint, not even our Santa Claus, intrigues me. This whackdoodle way of presenting good and evil particularly to very little children springs fully formed from the same source that brought us the wonderful world of Slovenly Peter and the tales of the Brothers Grimm, where the happiest of every afters generally manifests itself in some small and dirty unwanted heroine or hero freezes and dies in the cold.

And so the new adventure begins!