Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Santa Chronicles: Part Six

Santa is finally dressed. We're down to the nitty gritty finishing details.

The biggest remaining challenge was deciding how to finish the bottom of Santa's body and how to stabilize his body in his sitting position. Thanks to my handy husband, I have a custom-made platform with a dowel that he made to fit inside the tube in Santa's body. The dowel is securely bolted to the platform, which I painted with black acrylic paint and finished with a coat of Dull-Cote Lacquer. It fits inside the cardboard tube in Santa's body with just a bit of "wiggle room."

The bottom of the platform was left unfinished so I could use a permanent marking pen to "sign" my work.

As for the bottom of the body, I had to find a way to encase the fiberfill. I cut a piece of lightweight faux suede and sewed it to the seamline around the bottom edge of the body, encasing the seam allowance and the upper edge of the gathered legs. That covered the hole in the tube. I felt for the tube edges and marked them with chalk. Then working from the center of the circle out, I carefully cut pie-shaped wedges, ending at the chalk mark. To hide the wedges, I put glue in between the fiberfill and the outside of the tube and then tucked the wedges into the glue and allowed to dry. The suede is nonwoven so it won't ravel. Another problem solved!

 My husband suggested I glue the dowel inside the tube, but instead, I used push pins through the upper legs and into the wooden base to secure Santa. I may decide to go the glue route later.

After I signed the base, I realized that I forgot to add the name of my finished Santa, so I designed a fabric label to sew to Santa's body under his jacket. I adapted a Christmas card design from my Microsoft Publisher program and inserted a photo of Santa's head. I added pertinent details, including his name, "Santa in Toyland." I printed the label on my inkjet printer, on specially treated fabric for the purpose.

You can order this fabric for inkjet printing  from

After trimming the label, leaving 1/4"-wide turn-under allowances on all four edges, I turned the edges and slipstitched the label to Santa's back underneath his jacket. In retrospect, it would have been easier to do this before sewing Santa's jacket to his body--but I hadn't named him yet. Usually names come easily, but this one didn't come to me until after I added the bag of toys (see below), so I couldn't have made the label anyway. I think it's a nice touch. How I love what the electronic age has made possible when it comes to creativity.

To finish up, I added a few embellishments to Santa—silver star buttons on his boots and little plastic wreaths from my button box on his mittens. I also tacked the mitten in place at the thumb joint to keep it in place.

Santa also needed a sack full of toys, so I cut one from black silk scrap and stitched it up, adding a plaid flannel casing with ribbon at the top. I stuffed the bag with a little polyfil fiber and drew up the ribbon drawsting. Then I tucked in a vintage toy soldier, a little tin toy locomotive, and a small teddy bear, all of which I had purchased in Missoula when I learned to sculpt my Santa head in 1999. After adjusting the ribbon to secure the toys (I didn't glue them), I tied it in a bow. I tacked I brought Santa's left arm forward and tacked his sleeve to his jacket. The bag of toys sits just in front of it.

I also used a few discreet stitches to secure Santa's right arm to his jacket in the desired position with a  and then tucked a small bisque doll, a Swiss miss, into the crook of that arm. (Her feet are tucked behind his arm in this shot (they slipped out for some of the photos I've used). I purchased the little doll in Switzerland in 2006 as a memento from my Bernina trip. She is secured to Santa's jacket with several small safety pins inside her clothing.

And now, my completed Santa is ready for his big "reveal." Drum roll please!

First, here's a closeup of his sweet face!

And, here he is in a casual mood! His soft legs can be "posed." I've also placed his left mitten on his leg. Note his spiffy belt made from a scrap of Ultrasuede and a silver buckle I found in my button box. It's been such fun to use up treasures and leftovers in my collection. Also note that I put a little polyfil fiber in his hat to give it a bit of "oomph," making it easy to put in the desired position.

And here he is in all his finery, my  finished "Santa in Toyland!"

I am so pleased with my Santa, and so proud of myself for figuring out how to finish him, all on my own, step-by-step, even it did take 13 years to do so. All things in their time, right? It took about 3 weeks for the problem-solving and execution to finish Santa, but it was well worth it, don't you think? I don't know if I'll ever sculpt another Santa head, but I certainly learned a lot and have great respect for the Santa and doll sculptors out there and appreciation of how much love and energy goes into a project like this one! Whatever they charge isn't enough. My Santa is a priceless heirloom to hand down in my family.

In some ways, I'm sorry to get to the end of this story--I had such a good time with this project. It was one of my "round to its." My goal this year is to get around to finishing my "round to its." There are several on my list and is this one has been checked off the list!

The End

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