Gnome place like home: Delightful ‘first-of-its-kind’ gnome trail opens in Silesia

Described by some as “micro works of art”, four models have so far debuted in a string of unexpected locations around the town centre. Miasto Wodzisław Śląski/Facebook

Described by local authorities as being “unique on a European scale”, the town of Wodzisław Śląski has unveiled a trail of gnome-like figures in a bid to revive its Old Town and attract outside visitors.

However, unlike the more famous trail of gnomes in Wrocław, this one has seen the pint-sized heroes set inside miniature display cases depicting intricate scenes relating to daily life.

Miasto Wodzisław Śląski/Facebook

Unlike the more famous trail of gnomes in Wrocław, this one has seen the pint-sized heroes set inside miniature display cases depicting intricate scenes relating to daily life.Miasto Wodzisław Śląski/Facebook

Defined by their meticulous attention-to-detail, the models were born from the idea of Rafał Wolny, a carpenter from the nearby town of Rybnik.

First premiering his creations at the town’s DzieJesień festival in September, Wolny’s figures captivated both the public and town officials.

Miasto Wodzisław Śląski/Facebook

Each model has been designed so as to be relevant to local life – one, for instance, shows a pair of gnomes – their faces smeared with coal – grafting in a mine; another, meanwhile, depicts a cheerful pizzeria.Miasto Wodzisław Śląski/Facebook

Anna Szweda-Piguła from the City Development Center said: “We were curious how these works by Rafał Wolny would be received by the residents of Wodzisław Śląski, but when we saw how positive the reaction was we had the idea of establishing this cooperation between local government and private business.”

Described by some as “micro works of art”, four models have so far debuted in a string of unexpected locations around the town centre.

Mayor Mieczysław Kieca said: “We decided to use the historical architecture of our beautiful city to present this new and original, urban design idea.”

The models have been playfully set in a historic stairwell, the base of a street lamp and other little nooks – including a gap under a window ledge measuring just 20 centimetres in height. According to City Hall, potentially dozens more could be added in the future.Miasto Wodzisław Śląski/Facebook

As such, the models have been playfully set in a historic stairwell, the base of a street lamp and other little nooks – including a gap under a window ledge measuring just 20 centimetres in height. According to City Hall, potentially dozens more could be added in the future.

“There has never been such a project in Wodzisław Śląski,” said Kieca, “and we are already planning its continuation in the coming years.”

Thus far, each model has been designed so as to be relevant to local life – one, for instance, shows a pair of gnomes – their faces smeared with coal – grafting in a mine; another, meanwhile, depicts a cheerful pizzeria.

Miasto Wodzisław Śląski/Facebook

The detailing is striking with the models featuring miniscule elements such as ketchup bottles, cupcakes, tiny paintings, clipboards and, even, a miniature sign declaring “I Love Wodzisław”.Mały Drewniany Domek/Facebook

The remaining dioramas refer to home life and show the pocket-sized heroes engaging in day-to-day activities inside a bedroom and a living room.

Prosaic as these may sound, the detailing is striking with the models featuring miniscule elements such as ketchup bottles, cupcakes, tiny paintings, clipboards and, even, a miniature sign declaring “I Love Wodzisław”.

According to Rafał Wolny, each scene usually takes three weeks of painstaking work. He said: “We pay attention to the very smallest of details,” he says, “such as the one-centimeter high books or the actual pizza in the pizzeria. It’s worth working so hard when you see the final results.”

According to the creator, Rafał Wolny, each scene usually takes three weeks of painstaking work. He said: “We pay attention to the very smallest of details,” he says, “such as the one-centimeter high books or the actual pizza in the pizzeria. It’s worth working so hard when you see the final results.”Miasto Wodzisław Śląski/Facebook

Sanding practically every element four times by hand, even the innocuous little lamps that feature in the models are the consequence of approximately thirty-minutes of thorough work. For Wolny, however, the job satisfaction is ample reward.

“Carpentry is my passion,” he says. “By doing something that I love, my dreams have come true.”

Remarkably, though, for Wolny his foray into carpentry was relatively recent. Quitting his job nine-years back, his love affair with woodwork began when he couldn’t find a suitable bed for his child.

Anna Szweda-Piguła from the City Development Center said: “We were curious how these works by Rafał Wolny would be received by the residents of Wodzisław Śląski, but when we saw how positive the reaction was we had the idea of establishing this cooperation between local government and private business.”Miasto Wodzisław Śląski/Facebook

Taking matters into his own hands, he decided to build one himself. Accidentally almost, a passion was born.

Learning his craft from YouTube videos, internet forums and trial by error, his original commercial endeavours did not go far beyond constructing hamster hutches in his garage. Later, though, Wolny found himself commissioned to build a doll house and his fledgling business took an entirely fresh direction.

Now regarded as one of the best in the business, his skills have earned him a devoted Facebook following just shy of 8,000 – with his entrancing models in Wodzisław Śląski set to expose his talents to an entirely new audience, that figure, along with his name, is set to grow even further.