Couple carves over 100 Santas

James and Helene Siegl with some of their hand-carved Santa figurines. — Submitted photo

On display at The Shops at Woodlake is The James V. and Helene Y. Siegl Santa Collection of over 100 hand-carved Santa Clauses, Mrs. Clauses and elves. The Siegl Santas are craft-ed from the finest Wisconsin Linden wood. Each Santa is rough cut with a band saw to form the general shape and then skillfully hand carved with European style gouges.

A 4-inch-tall Santa could take 10 to 15 hours to carve, while a foot-tall one could take up to 100 hours. Once carved to satisfaction, each Father Christ-mas was handed to trusted wife, Helene Siegl, who spent hours mixing paints and delicately brushing on the beautiful, intricate colors.

Many of the Santas were inspired by pictures the couple clipped and saved over the years. Others came from their imagination. The Siegls’ playful, vivid imaginations amounted to over 100 unique Santa’s from around the world. From Scandinavian, German, Irish, Swiss, Austrian and American styled Santa’s to the wood carving, hiking, cooking, sleeping and sledding Santa’s the carved holiday family of figures elicit the spirit and joy of Christmas year-round.

James V. Siegl was born in Sheboygan, Wisconsin on August 28th, 1932, and passed away on February 15th, 2014. Woodcarving was Siegl’s lifetime passion.

Siegl started carving in the early 1960s with a block of wood in hand and an X-Acto knife. The first block of wood was transformed into a tiny elephant, the first piece of The Siegl Circus Collection. The 1,500-piece, three-ring miniature circus was created over almost four decades. The Siegls estimate that they spent nearly 30,000 hours on creating the Circus. Each character is hand-carved and hand-painted with amazing detail. In 1998, the Kohler Foundation acquire the circus collection and gifted it to Above & Beyond Children’s Museum in downtown Sheboygan.

Siegl was an active member of the Kettle Carver’s Club in Plymouth, Wisconsin. When not carving, he worked as an advertising salesman at the Sheboygan Press for 33 years and later at the Plymouth Review.

The collection was acquired by The Christopher Farm and Gardens in Sheboygan in 2014, and is offered to a local business or institution free of charge each year during the holiday season.

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