Some of the baubles and bells that adorn our Christmas trees are so pretty, it’s a shame they have to be put away after Christmas winds down.
But then again, who says you have to put all of them away?
Some ornaments are like works of art — and if you collect ornaments by local artists, they really are miniature works of art. We dropped by the Quinlan Visual Arts Center in Gainesville recently, and found ourselves inspired by ornaments as art.
These pieces not only look great on a tree, said Quinlan Executive Director Amanda Kroll, but they can be used as decor in the home all year round. Glass balls can reflect the light on your front porch, for example, or a handmade angel can keep watch over your kitchen window or even among a grouping of picture frames in a hallway.
Depending on your inspiration and places to hang them, the possibilities seem endless. It’s just another way to celebrate Christmas all year long.
Lisa Pirkle never set out to make folk art — she just made what she wanted to.
The owner of Bonefish Art Gallery in North Hall said she looked up the definition of the art term after a few people started dropping by the gallery asking who the new folk artist was.
“I do a lot of paintings and things, and they are in the style of folk art,” she said, noting that a folk artist is defined as a self-taught artist. “I don’t want to paint like a photograph because I might as well take a photograph.”
She sells her copper cut-out ornaments at her gallery, along with the Quinlan and other area galleries. She used to make copper stars that would sit on the top of a Christmas tree, but when the price of copper skyrocketed, they became too expensive.
So, she started making miniature Christmas trees, along with animals, musical instruments and anything else that strikes her fancy.
“I really like the more old-fashioned type of ornaments,” she said. “The metal copper is such a rich metal.”
The whimsical style of her art, she said, makes it something that’s unique to the area.
“I’d never seen anything like that before, and I wanted to give people something that’s different and more apt to have in their homes.”
Gems made of glass
Watkinsville artist Loretta Eby has been making glass for 32 years, and stressed that glass artists have to be prepared for the art to consume their other loves.
“You have to really want to make glass,” she said. “I’m married to the man of my dreams, but we are both married to our furnace. It runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 2,000 degrees. We run through 500 gallons of propane a month.”
She’s driven to get up every day and work in this fuel-eating furnace, though, and said she enjoys making the delicate ornaments that catch the light in different colors.
“We make a couple thousand a year,” she said, adding that what you see in galleries and shops, such as at the Quinlan Visual Arts Center in Gainesville, are specific to the year they are made. “The Quinlan has a very good selection of my ornaments because I make some special ornaments for the local galleries.”
Eby had a few ideas for ways to keep using her glass ornaments throughout the year.
“You do the dishes in the kitchen in the sink every day, so you look out the window over the sink. So a lot of people can hang them there,” she said. “A lot of people hang them on screened porches.
“... You don’t have to hang them just for Christmas. I don’t wait until Christmas.”
Angels all around
Each of Gainesville artist Scott Begnaud’s angels are unique, right down to their little faces.
They are all crafted from found objects, ribbons and other trinkets, said Kroll, and their heads are cast in paper and painted.
“He paints them and each one is one of a kind,” she said.
Usually sold at his home in a series of parties before Christmas, Kroll said she was able to snap up some of his extra angels from this year’s round of home parties to sell at the Quinlan. The gift shop is one of just a few places around Hall County where you can find the angels.
“He is local and very, very well known for this particular technique,” she said. “He also makes pins — jewelry — using a similar technique.”