In a couple of days, December 2nd to be exact, the new House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will flip the switch that will light up the U. S. Capitol Christmas Tree. This is exciting news for Alaskans as it is the first time EVER that a tree from Alaska has traveled all the way to Washington D.C. to be the official Capitol Christmas Tree.
And to make the story even better, (at least for me), I was one of ten Alaskan artists invited to create ornaments for the tree. I originally wrote about being an ornament artist here.
It was not a easy task. The ornament requirements were quite complicated. The ornament had to be less than ten inches tall or wide, weigh no more than a half-a-pound pound, be made out of repurposed materials, have weatherproof qualities and there needed to a template of the ornament that could duplicated by youth from across the state.
I knew my official ornament would be made of wool–repurposed wool sweaters to be exact. I started with buttons. Lots of buttons. It was beautiful but not really me. I don’t normally work with buttons. Unfortunately, once the ornament was stuffed, it looked sloppy.
It is so disappointing when a design fails, and I have to change course, but I did it. I am not good at buttons. I am good at stitching. I made some sketches first. Then, I created two quilt sandwiches–one for the front of the ornament and one for the back. Each quilt sandwich had three layers–wool, batting, and white cotton. I quilted them.
blue.holloman gallery and I thought it would be great fun to create a limited edition inspired by the ornament that actually went to Washington D.C. After doing the wool ornament, I realized that my thread work was much more vibrant on the NON-wool side of my stitching.
I decided that for these new stars I would use left over shot cotton fabric from my quilt backs. Shot cottons really do make the quilting glow. First, I made flat samples. I liked the flat ones because they were double sided–the quilting showed on both sides, but the satin stitching around the edges was killing me. And I just had it in my head that the ornaments should be puffy not flat.
So I tried again. Finally, I liked the results. I loaded up my long arm so that I could stitch a dozen at a time. I used Aurifil 28 WT in both my bobbin and my top thread.
There is now a baker’s dozen for sale at blue.holloman gallery.
I will be making more in the next couple of weeks leading up to Christmas. Each one-of-kind limited edition ornament is $45 dollars. (And if you leave out of town and want to order one from me, that price does include shipping.)
If you want to know more about the tree you can visit the Capitol Christmas Tree website to learn all about the trek, the artists, the student ornaments, the history and more.
The tree will be lit on Wednesday, Dec. 2 at 5:00 p.m. EST (That is 1PM AK time.)in a public ceremony, which will be broadcast on C-Span. I will be watching.