For over 25 glorious years I designed Father Christmas figurines which were sold in fine gift and collectible shops throughout the country. After my sculptor, Gaylord Ho, retired, it was impossible to find anyone else who could produce such exquisite, detailed figurines as my friend so I felt it was time to move on. It was a difficult decision but, as Charles Dickens wrote, "Keep Christmas in your heart all year long." The Christmas spirit is always with me. It is the season of family gatherings, reuniting with friends, sharing good food and showing kindness. Now, more than ever, these are things we can celebrate every day of the year.
These past few months have made many of us come face to face with changes we we didn't ask for and couldn't have anticipated, changes of life style and priorities. For me, one of the things I've realized is that I can't keep every Santa that I've ever collected over the past 25 years and I must "let go" of some of my Pipka Santa figurines . With that in mind, we are going to celebrate Christmas in July at my shop, Pipka's of Door County, with a sale of my remaining Santa figurines with the hope that someone will find a Pipka Santa to treasure as much as I have treasured them.
The Santa design began with a painting of the Santa as in the Patriotic Santa above. Usually this was a large painting showing the front and back of the Santa so that my sculptor could visualize each detail. I also painted a close up of all the toys on a separate canvas and details of the clothing when necessary. Each Santa painting took approximately a week to complete but the research could take as long as 6 months if I was endeavoring to represent a country that I was not familiar with. I wanted my designs to show the best of every country I researched.
The Pipka Santa figurines came in three sizes, The Memories collection was 11 inch Santas, the Reflections were 6 inches and the Mini collection was 3 inches Santas. The smaller the piece, the more talent it required of the sculptor and painter to replicate my designs.. Pipka Santas are famous for their beautiful faces, I often used models for the faces, and the realistic flowing clothing. People would touch the coats thinking they were fabric, but, of course, they were sculpted and painted by talented artists to look dimensional and soft . Can you guess which Santa in the above photo is the Door County Santa?
Every Santa told a story or represented the traditions of a country. Not every Santa wore a red coat, that is more an American version of Santa Claus, but Santas around the world usually dress in a bishops robe or in a simple brown coat with a rope belt. I took artistic license and dressed the Santas in costumes that represented their country or origin. I enjoyed designing the clothing very much, striving to make each costume unique and beautiful. Sometimes I would think, "I wish I had a coat just like this!"
I am often asked, "What inspires you?" or "Do you every run out of ideas?" Sometimes people would tell me stories of their own Christmas memories, often people would request a Santa that reflected their heritage which made me run to the library scouring information of Christmas in different lands. I never ran out of ideas. I felt blessed to be creating something I loved and was passionate about while learning at the same time. Often I traveled to other countries at Christmas time to experience that land's customs first hand. You can read a thousand books but there's nothing like being there...visiting the Cristkindlmarkets, the aroma of gingerbread in the air, seeing people bring home Christmas trees on the back of their bicycles and hearing children singing in the town square. These are the memories I treasure the most.
Come by to see us July 25 for our Christmas in July celebration...and view more Santas on our Shop site.
Thank you everyone for your idea, requests and patronage throughout all these years. I feel privileged and humbled by your support.