Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A Little Back Story

As we quickly approach November, and we really start to think about the upcoming holidays, I thought I would share how I got started with this business of crafting/painting and sharing my work...at least the ornaments part of it!
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"Once upon a time, an idea was formed. Money was in short supply and Christmas was fast approaching. Names had been drawn for family members, but how would gifts be bought? Mixing together creativity, heritage, artistry, and frugality, the idea was born. The house the family members had grown up in was painted on a glass ornament. It could be a simple decoration for their tree, or an heirloom to be kept and shared for many years to come..." 

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It was quite a while ago, we were living back in Michigan at the time, and I was staying home with our two (then little) girls. 

My husband's family exchanged names for Christmas gifts, so we were trying to come up with ideas for meaningful gifts that wouldn't break the bank.  I don't like giving a gift just to say I did.  I like to have some connection or meaning behind it.
 
I'm not exactly sure where the idea came from, but my husband and his brothers always told stories about their family and the house they grew up in.  They call it "The Estate."  I was also in the mode of keeping things simple, and not having extra tchotchkes around, so wanted something that wouldn't have to be out and dusted. So I decided for two of his brothers that year, we would send ornaments with their parent's house painted on it.  That is where it began.
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Since they were for Christmas, and they were ornaments for the tree, I painted a winter scene, including snow and an "evergreen" wreath around the picture.  And, since my mom has a friend who says there should be signs of life in pictures, I painted the background a darker blue, for the evening sky after sunset, but still early.  Then I added candlelight in the windows, to give the house a warm glow of someone at home, warm and cozy as the evening sets in. 

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We moved to Massachusetts a short time later, and when our youngest started preschool, the school had a bulletin board space for local businesses to pin their cards or information.  I talked to my sister-in-law, and asked if I should put a card up with an ornament, to see if anyone else would be interested in ordering.  She said absolutely, so I painted an ornament of the school - The Little Red Schoolhouse -and pinned it to the board with my contact information.People loved the idea, and I painted quite a few ornaments for parents at the preschool, some of the school, personalized with children's names, some of houses.  Over the next few years, most of my orders came either from people who had ordered before, or those who had received an ornament and wanted to order for someone else.  I believe somewhere along the way someone asked if I would paint pets, so I have also painted cats, dogs and bunnies!
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Here are some more examples of ornament requests I have had:
  • The houses that were being sold because both parents were gone, so an ornament was ordered for each of the siblings to remember...
  • The new homeowners that were just starting out...
  • The church where friends were just married...
  • The cottage where so many summers were spent...
  • The family pet that has been loyal for so long...
  • The building on the college campus that is a landmark...
  • The high school where the graduate just finished their studies...
  • The school where the teacher spends countless hours preparing for and teaching children...

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There have also been special requests - painting on bells instead of glass ornaments due to pets and small children...  Adding more detail to the background, with snow, or sand, or summer...
As I listen to people tell their stories, I try to pay special attention to the details.  I try to add those details to each ornament.  That is what makes them unique.  I love hearing the stories of the houses and families when an order is placed, and look forward to hearing about the reactions when the recipient sees the gift.
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To date I have painted well over 400 ornaments, for fundraisers, school events, teachers, graduates, newlyweds, and the requests keep coming.  I am so grateful that people contact me and ask me to be a part of making something very special for someone they consider very special.  I hope these ornaments continue to bring joy to those who received them, reminding them of the places they love and the ones who love them.
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  So if you have ordered an ornament from me - Thank you for allowing me to add a line to your story!
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