Hallmark sat down with Tammy Haddix and Crista Couch to discuss their Sweet Santa ornament – releasing at Ornament Debut in October. Enjoy!
Of her inspiration, Crista recalled, “the Sweet Santa ornament began as an illustration for part of a 2021 Christmas collection group in our Visual Studios. The collection was a colorful group of images with an updated retro Santa and his sidekick reindeer enjoying a variety of fun Christmas activities. In some scenes, I included a few other little friends to join in the fun too. These images were originally painted in gouache and watercolor with a bit of digital work used to finalize them.”
The Santa was chosen to be featured in a variety of products such as greeting cards, gift bags and wrap, gift products (including a techno-plush Santa who plays hide-and-seek) and, of course, the “Sweet” little ornament for Keepsakes.
Enter Keepsake Artist, Tammy Haddix!
The ornament project and collaboration began with a series of drawings by Crista, based on the original Santa. Crista and Tammy eventually landed on one pose that appealed to them the most. From there, Crista handed off her drawings to Tammy for sculpting and hand-painting!
Tammy brought the Sweet Santa to life in 3D form through wax sculpting. The ornament will also have colored strings as attachments for the bows! At various stages during the sculpting and hand-painting process, Tammy would send pictures of progress to Crista to ensure everything was on track for their adorable Sweet Santa.
Tammy recalled of working with Crista, “It was very fun to work with Crista. I have known her for quite a few years, but we never got to work together on a project until now.”
And Crista recalled of working with Tammy, “Tammy was delightful to work with. She did an amazing job … she captured the essence of my original Santa perfectly!”
Did you know? Crista started her Hallmark career more than 17 years ago. During her years as a Hallmark artist, Crista has worked on all kinds of greeting cards and gifts. And, talent runs in Crista’s family! Her daughter is a Hallmark artist, and her other children are creative professionals too. Crista mentioned, “Christmas is one of my favorite holidays and I especially love creating fun and magical images for Christmas products.” When she’s not creating at Hallmark, Crista paints at home, where she enjoys spending time with her furry friends – a couple of Turkish Vans and an American Shorthair.
Joanne: “I’ve always loved the vintage/nostalgic style that came out of the 50’s and 60’s, especially at Christmastime. Chad and I received such a great response for our Vintage Santa last year, that I knew my Snowman had to coordinate with him.”
You may remember Joanne and retired Keepsake Artist Robert Chad’s 2020 Nostalgic Santa which released at Ornament Debut last year. Joanne’s Vintage Snowman this year was also inspired by that ornament last year!
Joanne went on to say, “I’ve always turned this idea in, but sometimes the timing isn’t right. I was so happy when the team agreed to go with my Santa concept last year, and now, my Snowman! Not only was this a lot of fun to sculpt and paint, but it was especially fun to research the style, so I was true to the look.”
Joanne: “Because the end product is to be porcelain, I had to sculpt him @ 15% larger than actual size since porcelain shrinks during the firing process. The added bottle brush tree is the same size and shape as the one I used for Santa last year, so that they look good together. I think it really adds the finishing touch to him.” We agree, Joanne!
Joanne also mentioned that she knows how much you loved the Santa last year, and she hopes you’ll love the Snowman just as much this year! “I’m pushing for more characters in this style! We’ll see what happens!”
What do you think? Would you like to see more ornaments in this vintage styling? Let us know in the comments below!
Tracy has some hands-on inspiration for the 10th in series this year! Tracy explained, “my son, Trent, is a Physical Therapist with the U.S. Army and his first assignment was 3.5 years in Hawaii! Of course, we had to visit him and his wife while they were stationed there. Whenever I’m at a location that has lighthouses, I always make it a point to visit them for inspiration for the series, if possible.”
Tracy went on to describe their adventures. “We first took a beautiful hike up to Makapu’u Lighthouse that has a great view of island (see photo!). The lighthouse is situated on the side of the mountain, so it had a nice tower, but there was no house with it. Later on, we hiked up to the top of Diamond Head and I spotted another lighthouse below us while we hiked (see photo of my wife Tammy, son Trent and daughter Sophie with Diamond Head Lighthouse in the background). I made sure we drove to it after our hike. Though we couldn’t enter the grounds, I took several pictures of Diamond Head Lighthouse through the leaf covered fence and thought that someday it might just inspire an ornament. It happened to inspire the 10th in the series! It was also fun to see the surfers just down from the lighthouse – they provided the inspiration for the bear and Santa (see photo of surfers with boards).”
Tracy described (with a big smile!), “the lighthouse series is always one of my favorites to work on every year. I really enjoy researching different lighthouses from around the country, from the Pacific to the Atlantic Coast and from the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes (and of course, the occasional island!). I would love to do them all! It’s always fun to determine what Santa and his polar bear pal will be doing for their interaction. It’s just a fun series to work on.”
Tracy: “For a sneak peak, next year’s holiday lighthouse is based on a lighthouse nicknamed “Big Red”! It’s one I’ve wanted to do for years.”
Tracy also mentioned of his 10th in series design, “look for the “E Komo Mai” sign over the door. It means “Welcome.” Also, don’t miss the holly design on Santa’s board and Santa giving the ‘shaka’ sign to his polar bear friend.”
Hallmark sat down with Keepsake Artists Nina Aubé and Matt Johnson to chat about their adorable Cookie Doe ornament releasing SOON at Ornament Premiere! Keep reading to learn more about the inspiration and collaboration of Matt and Nina to bring this ornament to life for you this year.
Matt: “Originally, I was working on dessert ornament ideas that have a pun. For example, Chocolate Mousse, etc. Cookie dough / doe seemed like a really fun idea with it being a cute reindeer that loves to bake! Nina really did such a great job with pose and cute details in her sculpt.”
Nina: “I was inspired by – Matt Johnson! He’s the actual mastermind behind this clever concept. Tom Best also lent his expertise – he helped create the ice cream logo on the container, so this was a true team effort! I think it turned out super cute and the pun is a fun twist.”
Nina: “I sculpted the deer traditionally, out of a firm wax-based clay. The ice cream container was created out of thin plastic sheeting and tubing, which I heated to form the tub shape. The ice cream was made out wax, and I added large grains of coarse sand to mimic chocolate chips. I played around with the pose a bit, and we agreed having the little deer sitting plopped right in the tub was the cutest option.”
Nina also mentioned, “I LOVE ice cream (who doesn’t?), but I’ve never actually tried cookie dough ice cream! I did eat massive amounts of raw cookie dough when I was a kid though and lived to tell about it.” Yum!
We think it may be time for Nina to try out cookie dough ice cream in honor of this adorable ornament, do you agree?
Here are some Keepsake Artists’ insights into an ornament each has created for 2021.
Nina Aubé Hallmark Keepsake Artist
Stocking Stuffers 1st in the series.
Nina Aubé: “I’m a huge animal lover, so all the critters in this stocking are pets I’ve personally known and loved, including my beloved cockatiel Opie, who lived to the ripe old age of 25.”
Each ornament in this new series will feature a festively stuffed stocking designed by a different Keepsake Studio Artist each year!
Rocking Horse Memories 2nd in the series.
Matt Johnson: “I want this series to have a beautiful range of rocking horses! For this I used a bolder color palette that gives the horse a really rich character. I explored many color variations before landing on this design that feels just right.”
Matt Johnson Hallmark Keepsake Artist
Edythe Kegrize Retired Hallmark Keepsake Artist
Edythe Kegrize: “Flamingos have always been a favorite of mine, with their awkward elegance, vibrant color and impressive size. My hope is ‘Fancy Flamingo’ will stir up plenty of warm sunbaked memories or dreams of topical adventure yet to come.”
Sweet Decade 2nd in the series.
Tammy Haddix: “Sweet Decade was inspired by my sweet tooth! I wanted it to look like you could actually eat it! As a kid my siblings and I would create gingerbread houses. I think more candy ended up in our bellies than on the house!”