Hallmark Senior Artist
Started at Hallmark:
May 22, 1995
Started at Keepsakes:
May 22, 1995
Even though there were lots of stars to wish upon growing up in rural Iowa, Kristina Gaughran never asked their help in finding a job with Hallmark. “I grew up in a tiny town,” she explains. “There was only one Hallmark store.”
Upon graduation from high school, Gaughran landed in Hallmark’s hometown–Kansas City, MO. As a student at the Kansas City Art Institute, artists from Hallmark often visited. In 1995, during her junior year, the manager of Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments visited one of her classes. He asked each of the 70 students to submit two drawings. One from each student would then be selected to sculpt.
“I submitted a worn little teddy bear with a cat rubbing up against him affectionately and a Christmas wreath with a mouse hanging off of it,” Gaughran remembers. “The teddy bear was the one they chose.”
Based on that submission, Hallmark offered Gaughran an internship for the following summer. At the end of that summer, Hallmark asked her to continue as a contributor. “Once a week I would meet up with a group from Keepsake Ornaments for lunch,” she says. “I wasn’t out of school yet, but already it was very much like family. It was like having 30 friends that were there to support and help you.”
When Gaughran finally graduated in the spring of 1996, she was offered a full-time position with Keepsakes.
“Growing up, I actually wanted to work for Disney because I love animation,” she confesses. “The funny thing is, I get to work for Disney after all!” Many of Gaughran’s Keepsake Ornaments are Disney characters. She even travels to Disney headquarters on occasion for approval on some of her sculpts. “It’s like the best of both worlds,” Gaughran says. “I get to visit Disney, but I get to live at Hallmark.”
Mom to Bee (2015)
Celebrating her 20th year as an artist for Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments, Kristina, when she was sculpting this ornament, was also on the verge of another milestone—she was expecting a baby of her own.
That made her the perfect person to design the new “Mom to Bee” Keepsake Ornament, debuting in 2015. So was that by design, so to speak? Actually, turns out it was just a happy coincidence. She started working on the ornament the beginning of 2014, but didn’t find out she was expecting until several months later. (Her second son Tristan was born in February. Her first son, Finn, turns four in April.)
Back when Kristina’s team were brainstorming potential concepts, it occurred to them that using an actual bee would be the perfect, punny tie-in.
“Then it was just drawing it up, figuring out what she was going to look like,” said Kristina, who started to zero in on a more whimsical style—sweet and just a little silly.
The mom character is an actual bumblebee. She’s wearing a purple shirt with a little baby bumblebee on it. Instead of sculpting the wings along with the rest of the figure, she made them with a coated, synthetic paper called Yupo.
“It just adds an extra element of value and interest, to have little attachments like that,” Kristina said.
Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman (2015)
Kristina, who was born in 1973, has faint memories of watching the 1970s TV show “Wonder Woman” as a very little girl with her parents. She was too young to see Lynda Carter as the role model for female empowerment that she was to many others. That aspect of the character didn’t become apparent to her until much later. But Wonder Woman’s entertaining heroism was never lost on her. Especially now that she’s become another kind of hero: mom.
“I think every mom is a Wonder Woman. Whether she’s a full-time at-home mom or a mom who also goes to work, we all have to find our balance,” Kristina said. “Some moms are actual crime-fighters, while others have the superpowers to heal a boo-boo with just a kiss. But in the end we all have the same desire, to be the best moms we can be for our children.”
The ornament features Wonder Woman in her original uniform from the TV show, in a blocking pose with her bulletproof bracelets up and ready, with the Lasso of Truth at her side. Kristina even designed the lasso out of golden cording to give it an extra feel of authenticity.
Lotus and Poinsettia (2015)
1st in the Baby Fairy Messenger series
With all the baby stuff happening in her life already, why stop there? Kristina also created two baby fairies that coordinate with the Fairy Messenger series. The little duo is based on grown-up Poinsettia—the very first offering in the Fairy Messenger series in 2005—and grown-up Lotus, this year’s fairy.
As the mom of boys, Kristina said, “I tried to think about nieces and friends’ babies, to help me imagine how they’d look or what little girls would be wearing.”
Kristina incorporated the corresponding flower into each design as a resting surface, like a baby’s blanket. As she created the pieces, she imagined that as the girls grew up, they’d pluck the petals from their flower to make their skirts. Just as with the “Mom to Bee” ornament, Kristina needed to think of a different solution for the wings than a more traditional mold, so the wings wouldn’t be “too chunky looking.”
To give the wings a slender profile, she opted for a thin sheet of styrene, which was then laser-cut and glittered. She said that despite the thin look, “they’ll be nice and sturdy.”
The idea was to add something new and interesting for those who already collect the Fairy Messengers. We know collectors have been asking for more miniatures, and this duo seemed like the perfect fit.
“I think there is also added appeal for people who think they look like their daughters at that age, or like their granddaughters.”
Kringle and Kris (2014)
1st in the series
Kristina isn’t shy when it comes to admitting just how adorable this new winter duo is. “People seem to really like the design of these guys! They’re going to be doing different activities each year. Some things will be Christmas-related, but some will be winter-related.”
Kristina has thought up a number of fun activities for Kringle and Kris to do in the years to come. She’s also hidden a few surprises for kids to discover along the way. “My son’s name is Finn, and so it’s hard to find things with his name on them. I got to put his name on the nice list, along with some other common names that happen to be the names of his aunts, uncles and cousins. Finn’s going to be able to look at this ornament and say, ‘Hey, I made Santa’s list!’ We try to add names that are popular so other kids will be able to see their names there as well.”
Daffodil Fairy (2014)
10th in the Fairy Messengers series
Kristina’s favorite flower is the daffodil, and so it was a natural choice in creating the 10th ornament in the Fairy Messengers series. “Daffodils announce spring. They pop up and look happy, and so I wanted to make it look like she was skipping.”
This tiny tot’s bright and sunny yellow color really stands out from other fairies in the series. “So many of the fairies have long hair, and so it was fun to do a bob cut. And now there’s a pop of yellow in there with all the other pinks and purples.”
Great Granddaughter and Great Grandson (2014)
Keepsake Ornament Artists have been working on granddaughter and grandson ornaments for years, but this year is the first to feature ornaments made just for great-granddaughters and great-grandsons! These two tiny polar bears are bundled up in winter scarves that pack a whole lot of attitude.
Kristina explains, “I tried to have the girl posing, because little girls always love to be so mature. And the little boy is like a super hero. I kept them simple with materials so I could focus on the attitude they have and the words on their outfits.”
Daisy Fairy (2013)
9th in the Fairy Messengers series
“I try to have the previous fairies on a wall in front of me when I’m drawing. It shows where we’ve been, so I take them all into consideration. I looked up the meaning behind daisies and found out that they’re all about innocence. I sketched out Daisy’s dress and started to think about what pose she might take on, sculpting every element out of a type of wax that we formulated right here at Hallmark. For a finishing touch, Daisy’s also got these lovely glittering wings that make it look like dew just fell on the rims of flower petals.”
Little Sweet Pea Fairy (2013)
Hallmark Gold Crown Exclusive
“This one reminds me of my cousin’s baby girl—I thought about her when I was designing this ornament. She’s on top of a sweet pea flower and her little bloomers are another color of sweet pea. I had to give her the ruffles because they’re just so cute on little girls. The Fairy Messenger series is really trying to capture that youth and playfulness of little girls. Some of them get a bit more serious, but they’re all a lot of fun. We snuck a boy in as well, so you can see how this series has grown over the years—like with the addition of this baby fairy.”
“As a grown-up kid, I feel like I’m living a dream to have the privilege of sculpting Star Wars® icons.”
In 2000, Kristina’s first Star Wars ornament, “Imperial Stormtroooper” was released.