OrnamentsOrnaments

Ornaments

Our handmade and hand-painted ornaments offerings exist today because of a long list of events. It all began with a certain Santa Helper Elf I drew for a series of greeting cards that I did back in 1999.

Our handmade and hand-painted ornaments offerings exist today because of a long list of events.


It all began with a certain Santa Helper Elf I drew for a series of greeting cards that I did back in 1999.

A product development manager saw these images and thought they could make new and different Christmas ornaments for a company, then quite large, called Department 56.

They wanted to license my designs and keep the images just as they were. Up until then, I was often asked to tone down my images to make them less quirky. My drawings were taken to artisans in the Philippines (the same people that I work with today) to transform them into three-dimensional pieces. They carved my characters from wood to be molded and cast into stone resin ornaments, which would then be painted by hand.

My first little ornament line arrived looking magically like I had made them myself!

They went out into the market and surprised us by disappearing fast! I was asked to design more and more Christmas ornaments and housewares, then items for Halloween, Easter and birthday.

After the third year, the ornaments could not be manufactured fast enough in the Philippines, so production was moved to China. It was devastating to watch the quality go downhill. I noticed little holes in the fingers and noses. The painting was not of the same texture or quality. I had no control over quality or quantities being made. When my licensing contract was up for renewal, I let it expire. We expanded our card company to include a new division to manufacture my ornaments.

This time we took a very different approach. I worked happily on designing a new line. We took manufacturing back to the Philippines where we could depend on a much higher level of quality than was available from the large scale production houses of China at that time. My compadre, and VP of Product Development, Hubbard Stout emphasized that, instead of cost being the determining factor of each piece, limiting detail, we wanted each individual piece to look as much like the original art as possible, including every detail. We let them know we would honor the hours and days of handiwork involved.

I traveled to the Philippines for the first time to meet and work beside the sculptors, mold makers and painters. These artists did a fantastic job, and captured the spirit of my paintings. Working together over the next seven months, we made the best product possible. The artisans were just like Santa’s elves (except the workshop was very, very hot)! Everyone took beaming pride in making the best little characters we possibly could.

The year was 2009, the year that the US economy crashed. Everyone was cutting back. We almost backed out, but my husband, Holly, said, “If everyone gives up on his dream and if people like us give up on starting a new small business, where will our country be? We took the plunge!

So today, I still dream up every design. I continue to take inspiration from past and future Christmases, but also from the oceans, my pets and global wildlife.

I send paintings off to be carved into three dimensions by our thoughtful sculptors, molded by our mold magicians, and painted by our steady, precise painters. We have lots of interaction every step of the way, adjusting eyeballs, tails and postures until they are just right. Every dot, stripe, check and speck is painted by hand, every glint of gold leaf, every bead, ruffle and feather is applied by hand. Invisible glue is painted in just the right places then dusted by hand with fine glitter to catch the light.

Some ornaments, like the Sugarplum Fairy, require thirteen different molds! She gets touches of gold, hours of meticulous painting on her tiny face, her roses, hairnet and striped-edge ribbons. Then, a hand-sewn tutu is gathered, fitted and at last, she gets the fine glitter! I am so thankful for our team of artisans. We have watched our painters and sculptors get more skilled every year.

Packing, packaging and labeling are also done by hand to protect the fragility of each piece because we hope your purchases will last more than one lifetime!

We take pride in the fact that we make a product that cannot be found elsewhere. We know it is not for everyone, but if it happens to be for you, you will know right away!

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