Thursday, October 2, 2014

31 DAYS of SANTA CLAUS Day 2 Vaillancourt Chalkware Santas

For the next week I will be very busy working with my husband at our lake house, so crafting Santas will be few and far between. Still, I am looking forward to sharing with you some of my collection.

I did manage to find some time to visit my studio/storage room today. There I was confronted by a dozen oyster shell Santa ornaments that, due to an inferior spray varnish, were scrapped last year but I intend to finish them this year.

I purchased this fabulous spray "glass" finish that make the oyster shells look like porcelain. However, I was not able to find it last year and settled on another brand. This new brand reacted with the spray paint and caused the paint to bubble. So, I now have to sand them down and start over.

I see I failed to take a photo of the half finished Santa gourds I started last year, but I'll get to that eventually.

Then there are the Santa gourds. My (COPYRIGHTED) Santa gourds require several steps and these guys have been in Step 2 limbo for about three years.

Once again, a product I loved is no longer available and the new material is prone to cracking and even breaking off the gourd. This has really limited my production to less than twenty-five per year over the past few years. I need to do some more experiments with mixing in other materials to get these beards right, because these are just too frustrating to carve into (Step 3).

Oh, but then there are my chalkware Santa Claus figures.

Twenty years ago, I discovered Valliancourt Chalkware Santas made from vintage chocolate moulds. Unfortunately, I could only afford to collect a few.  Fortunately though, one of the pieces I did purchase was the 1994 5th Annual Starlight Santa now valued between $300 ( to $800 ( but I will be telling you about that later.

In the meantime, I will tell you that I have about two dozen chocolate mold reproductions so I can pour and paint my own for a fraction of what the Valliancourt cost. Plus, I really enjoyed crafting them myself.
Most of the chalkware Santas in this photo are Vaillancourt. The two to the far right (Santa on motorcycle and traditional Santa) were made by my friend Sarah Meier, who is also a wonderful Santa Artist, but more on her later! For more information, check out for a very informative blog.
I painted about 90% of the other chalkware Santas.
So, back to what Santa(s) I worked on today.

Last year. I purchased several dried starfish at a yard sale and created my own version of a starfish Santa. Each has a sculpted clay (no bake) and beards crafted from wool I got from a friend's (Patrick Zuberbueler) ranch in Comstock, TX west of Del Rio, TX.

Unfortunately, the largest of the lot broke and I have had a devil of a time repairing him. Is appears dried starfish crumble easily and do not respond to glue very well.

So, today I decided to work on him.

Basically, I went over the area where the leg had been repaired with a different shade of red. Wouldn't you know it...I had run out of the other red! So I brushed the new red over the entire Santa.

While I waited for him to dry, I found a small chalkware ornament I made last year and decided to paint him as well.

I realize that I am going to have to get stronger glasses if I want to paint these tiny faces and work on the lighting in my studio. 

After an hour or so of painting and trying to put some things away in my studio, I had to wrap it up and have dinner.

So, basically I have a chalkware Santa with a very tiny face that I just can't get right and my starfish Santa is looking a bit like Gerard Depardieu. More touch-ups tomorrow! I need to repaint the wrinkles on Santa Depardieu's cheek, give him a good coat of sealer, and eventually (as in once I find my wool), I will add his beard.