Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Santa Chronicles: Part One

I love Christmas! Anyone who knows me well, knows that! If you visit my house during the holidays, you'll see a collection of Santas on the mantle, another in the kitchen window, more in the bookcases—and certainly on the Christmas trees. They are everywhere. Every year I waited anxiously for the Better Homes and Gardens Santa magazine and was sad when they discontinued it. One of the artists whose work was featured was Judith Klawitter, then of Missoula, MT, now residing in Idaho. I loved the realism of her sculpted heads and the clothing and accessories she made.

In 1998, when I returned to Portland, OR, after an 8-month sojourn in Williamstown, MA, recovering from major back surgery, I found an ad in the magazine for workshops with Judith. On a whim, I put myself on the waiting list and then secured a spot in the very next workshop. Off I flew to Missoula in January 1999 to take a 6-day class with 9 other students, all Santa lovers like me.

Under Judith's direction, we each sculpted a Santa head in clay, complete with sparkling glass eyes. Working in clay was a struggle for me—a foreign substance to this accomplished seamstress, but I muddled my way through with Judith's guidance and returned home with a completed head—about 5" tall.

Most of the time during the week was spent with the clay, but Judith shared lots of resources and bare bones instructions for completing the body and clothes too. She also took us shopping on the last day to her favorite spots for picking up old toys, fabric, etc., to complete our Santas.

 My intention was to finish my Santa as soon as got home, but I was intimidated by the concept of creating his body. Ultimately, I tucked my Santa head away in box and until mid December 2010, that's where he was rolling around! He's always been on my mind, but finishing him just seemed too daunting.

As I was searching through my Christmas closet, where I stash gifts that I pick up during the year, I came across a kit and paints for making a small Santa designed by Julia Rueger. This Santa, named Nicholas Little by the designer, had been in his box ever since 2003. I purchased the supplies at Quilt Market in Houston, Texas that year. Of course, I also spied the box with my Santa head. "MMM, maybe if I start small, I'll get one of these done in 2010," I thought to myself. And I did! The paint kit for the resin head, boot, and gloves included good directions. I was happy with my first attempt at painting on such a small face, so I was encouraged, especially since there was plenty of paint for my larger Santa head.

I finished my small Santa, following the hand-written directions that came with the pieces and was so pleased with the results. Here's a photo of my finished Nicholas Little.

If you like him and want to make one yourself, you can order a kit and paints and other supplies from

To be continued!

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