PORTLAND, ORE. - There are dozens and dozens of artists at the Portland Saturday Market, but only one of them promises that if you sit in his booth, he can help you 'get to gnome yourself.
Everyone comes here in search of something unique and unexpected. A measure of the artist who created it.
"Have we got a victim here?" asked artist Pete Bluett.
But Pete can't sell anything unless he has customers willing to pose and see themselves in a very different light.
Pete can turn anyone into a gnome. He's like a caricature artist, except with clay.
"I call it a sketch, and then I'm the only person who can tell you whether it's right or not,” said Bluett.
What he lacks in skill, he makes up for in salesmanship perfected in his first career - selling typewriters for IBM.
When Pete retired, he wanted a hobby.
"Clay school taught me that I was not going to be a very talented potter,” said Bluett.
But he had a knack for making people and a need to stay around them.
"I have friends who retired who aren't working. It sucks,” laughed Bluett.
All these years later, custom gnomes are selling big for the novelty, and the speed. He can finish a face in as little as 10 minutes.
Some customers sit to mark special occasions others are just walking by, and can't resist.
When it's done, this gnome will be one-of-a-kind.
And there's very little Pete can't do for the right price.
"Do I love this for love or money? Both,” laughed Bluett. “I love money!"
But mostly, he loves the people he meets. And what they bring to his art.
Getting to know them - and gnome them, one lump of clay at a time.
Copyright 2016 KING