DANVILLE – An intricate, hand-crafted holiday tradition has been passed down through generations in the Resh family.
The unique ornaments have spread to families in the area having a Resh tree or several of the beautiful ornaments on trees in their homes.
This year’s ornament at Resh Frame Shop, 5 Poland Road, is a Christmas stocking cap with a snow flake on it.
Past year’s ornaments have been a mitten, a Christmas tree, nutcracker, train engine, train car, train caboose, cross, a star, Santa face, dove with the word Peace on it, angel and other seasonal designs.
It all started about 22 years ago with Gary and Mark Resh’s father, Joseph.
Joseph was a Kickapoo Wood Carver and loved wood working.
He first made wooden ornaments for a Christmas tree at the Festival of Trees.
The ornaments were then all given back to the carvers.
Joseph also made wooden plates of the 12 Days of Christmas and other wooden items, such as an angel tree topper.
Gary Resh with Resh’s Frame Shop said his dad would make 80 to 100 ornaments every year.
When his father passed away about seven years ago, Gary and his twin brother Mark wanted to continue the tradition. A wooden cross was also made that year in their dad’s memory.
Gary said he also kept everything his father had worked on.
“I help design some,” Gary said of the ornaments.
He said they come up with different design ideas.
If something is popular, such as gnomes or ugly Christmas sweaters, they mull over the ideas.
Gary and Mark already are thinking about next year’s ornament.
It generally can take Mark, who lives in Wisconsin, a couple hours to make an ornament.
He machine cuts the ornaments out of basswood. He then chip carves or relief carves the design. Stain and polyurethane follow.
For the 20th year of Festival of Trees they made a Christmas tree with 20 stars on it. That ornament took longer to make the stars.
Mark makes a minimum of 110 ornaments annually. He makes around 20 at a time.
Gary said they have standing orders from many people for an ornament each year.
One of the annual ornament customers is Tony Rocco of Danville.
He said he buys them for his four daughters.
“They would absolutely miss not having them,” Rocco said.
He said his daughters have separate trees that they put the special wooden ornaments on.
The ornaments have become collectible items each year for the Rocco family and others.
In Gary’s home, he and his wife also have one of their trees only decorated with the unique wooden ornaments.
Mark said they’re happy to carry on their father’s work and keep the tradition alive.
Mark said their father got into carving, and Joseph got Mark interested in it too.
Mark said he’d not made a lot of ornaments before.
Resh Frame Shop at 5 Poland Road has been in business 30 years.
It sells frames and does custom picture framing on site, in addition to the wood carving.
One can see the Resh family’s ornaments through the years on the frame shop’s website at http://www.reshframe.com.
“This year’s was relatively simple,” Mark said about having the snowflake design already for the stocking cap. A snowflake also was on the mitten ornament last year.
The most intricate was the nutcracker in 2015, he said.
The three train pieces in 2012-2014 involved a lot of chip carving, such as the cross.
“It’s most enjoyable,” Mark said.
The Reshes also take pride that other families treasure the ornaments too.