By Jeffrey V. Smith
It’s important to know Daryl Boone makes custom furniture, mats and frames artwork, paints signs and like to undertake many other creative endeavors, otherwise you might think all he does is carve wooden Santas. The Empire-based artist and proprietor of Glenbrook Gift & Gallery used to only carve a few of the holiday figures for friends at Christmas gifts, now he makes them all year long to keep up with demand.
“In the last few years they’ve become a major part of my life year round. I used to just carve a few at Christmas and I’d have 20 in the store, and that was the deal, Boone said. “The carving thing, in the last couple of years, has just boomed. I find myself not able to stop carving. It’s crazy.”
Boone’s Santa figures emerged from his signature “wood spirits,” or what he calls “The Old Men,” that’s he’s created for more than 27 years. “I don’t know if it’s a hobby or if you want to call it a fetish, but it started when I used to go camping and I’d find a dead tree and mark wherever I camped by putting a face on it,” he said. “In over 27 years of carving, I’ve probably done 100-150 in the woods of Colorado. They are just out there, I just leave them behind.” The artist doesn’t have them documented and has never signed one. “It’s a little bit of a personal thing. I just do it so I can go back and visit them myself.”
The artist’s wood spirits, which he also created to sell in his gallery, are “really just an old man’s face with whiskers blowing in the wind—a kind of a wizardy looking guy,” Boone explained. “For years and years I did that, but I’ve taken that old man and put a red hat on him, and now it’s a Santa Claus. I guess I should call them Christmas spirits because they are kind of a wood spirit with a red hat. They are whimsical, kind of wizardy.” Whatever they are, they are very popular and have collectors who come and buy them from the artist every year.
Since it’s a bit of a challenge to get people to get off the highway and visit his gallery in Empire, especially during ski season, Boone has been participating in more art shows in recent years. “I used to never do shows, and just wait for people to come in my store,” he said. “I do about a dozen shows a year now, and that’s why I have to carve Santa Clauses all year long. I find it more profitable to take my stuff out to shows. It’s really jacked-up my business.”
Boone’s carvings run from $29 to $200, but most are $29 because “that’s what people buy.” They range from 3 inches to 3 feet tall.
Despite appearances, Boone and his wife, Melissa, do more than make and sell carve Santas at the Glenbrook Gift & Gallery, located on Hwy. 40 in Empire. “People are very surprised when they walk in,” he said. “We have antiques. We specialize in vintage Colorado ski stuff, posters and postcards. We frame and mat artwork in 100-year-old, recovered mine wood—I’m known for that. I do other things. A good portion of the store will have Santas, but we’ve got a lot of stuff. We consider ourselves kind of a Colorado themed store.”
The gallery is known as a “mountain home furnishings headquarters,” with many unique items like rugs, pillows, iron work, winter sports collectibles and antiques along with the hand-crafted works of Boone and other popular artisans of Colorado.
Soon it will be even easier to acquire Boone’s unique, hand-carved creations, along with his other work when his new website, ColoradoCreations.net, is up and running. Also, look for the artist during Georgetown Christmas Market, Dec. 6-7 and Dec. 13-14, at CAKE on 6th Street.