Sunday, October 26, 2014

31 DAYS of SANTA CLAUS Day 26 A Simple Way to Make Your Own Heirloom Santa

I hate to sew.

Well, maybe I don't really hate sewing, I just have a really cheap Brother sewing machine that takes all the fun out of it.

I am the assistant of theatrical costumer, and she probably hates sewing more than I do, so she does all the fun stuff like draping, and I end up cutting and sewing.

But give me something to embellish, and I am a happy camper!

This is why I have been combing eBay for inexpensive Santas who have great costumes. I can always replace the head and beards, replace the fake fur with real, add some embellishments, then make this Santa my own Heirloom Santa.

I am always collecting toys, trees, and other accouterments to add to my Santas. I search garages sales, estate sales, and thrift shops for clothing made from vintage fabric, leather, suede, and fur.

Most people would not think to "tamper" with an original, and I would not if it were an original piece. I am talking about the mass produced versions that you would pick up at chain store.

Compared to some of the $300-$500 Santas, you could create your own Heirloom Santa for less than $100

For example:

This Santa has nice "bone structure" but his eyes look a little dead.

I would start by removing the beard and hat and giving this Santa a new paint job adding a few lines to accent his wrinkles and give him a more "gleeful" look. 

Another trick is to actually make the pupils larger than these using a pale blue acrylic, add irises and a couple of highlights. Gray eyelashes would give him a more realistic look.

On small faces, I use a wooden toothpick dipped into the paint. I also like to use a glassy acrylic sealer to give the eyes that extra sparkle. 

A trick I used from a Santa Claus artist is to add a single piece of glitter to each eye. It is harder than is sounds but the effect is awesome.

This $1200 Santa on eBay is a good example of how to paint your Santa's face to give it more character.

I also would replace the artificial beard with Tibetan Lamb Hair like the Bard Santa.  You should be able to use the original beard as your patter

Available on eBay or Amaz

This "Tree Topper" Santa does not have legs, instead the costume is draped over a plastic or cardboard cone with added padding to soften the form.

However, you can find or make a muslin doll boy to fit this particular costume, or use an armature and wrap it in batting.

I chose this particular Santa because I felt it had a well constructed costume, but don't be surprised if the Santa your buy is constructed mostly from a hot glue gun.

This frayed end of this knot could easily be clipped. You can add fray check or even super glue to the end to prevent further unraveling.

There are so many things you can do to embellish this hat. I would add gold braid to this hat or at the minimum, sew a gold jingle bell or tassel on the end.

Now if you go with the armature, he'll need some pants, even if they are covered up by the robe. I just prefer a more finished look.

And don't forget the boots. Boots can be a challenge to sew but you can always buy a pair.

Porcelain Santa Boots

Something that bothers me is a Santa without mittens or gloves. If he is dressed in a heavy fur lined robe...wouldn't his hands get really cold and chapped?

Now what this Santa needs is accessories!

I would take his bag and empty out the stuffing because it looks too light and does't hang as if it really has something (other than stuffing) on the inside.

Shopping for toys and accessories can be an ongoing thing and in my opinion, the more the merrier.

My advice, find or make wrapped gifts, miniature books, toys, bells, a sleigh, a wreath, and a tree that is in proportion to your Santa.

Doll house miniatures are just too small for this Santa so look for something more on a three inches equals one foot scale.  I find a lot of ornaments in the appropriate size.
3" Jointed Teddy Bear

3.5" Rag Doll

Have fun putting together your own Heirloom Santa! And when you're done, please send me a photo of it in the comment section.