Tracking Down History Of A 1960s Gravel Art Elf I Had As A Kid.


When I was a kid I had this exact guy hanging over my bed in the late 70s/early 80s. Well, not *this* exact guy, but one crafted exactly like him. Wasn’t really something that I put a lot of thought into for most of my life, although I did manage to hold onto mine up until my move from Austin to Portland, a time when a lot of my cool vintage stuff had to go.

I’ve found myself wondering more and more what his “story” was, however. Occasionally I would see this or one of a half dozen similar elves and pixies at antique stores, enough to convince me this was something mass produced.


Frustratingly, I am still unable to find specifics about this particular design, but I can tell you a little bit about *what* they are. Gravel art like this was a popular fad in the 1960s, a descendant of paint-by number, but with multi-colored crushed rock to fill in designs lined with black or gold cordon. You can see a couple pieces in this style in the background of this Mad Men episode still.


Jane Gaylor is the artist credited with bringing this art style to the mainstream in the mid-20th century. You can find a very rudimentary history of gravel art here.  Although I am still unsure of the brand that made the elf design I had as a kid, I am aware that the kit would have looked something like this:


Sooner or later, just for the sake of closure, I’d love to see the sort of box/kit that elf actually came in. But at least I have a better idea what I’m looking for.