Donna Lee from her book,
"Still Following Her Star"
My friend Ramona recently shared a large stack of old documents with me. These were publications, articles, and clippings she had saved going back to the early 1990’s about the collectible industry.
One of those magazine articles was about the retired Hallmark artist Donna Lee who was striking out on her own to create an ornamental venture called, “Starry Eyed Enterprise.”
As someone who loved her work, I gravitated to that clipping and read it before any of the others.
In the 1999 interview, Donna not only spoke about her new ornament collection but also revisited the early days of Hallmark’s Keepsake division and spoke about the process of creating ornaments. One question asked of her was about the tools she used. Her reply was, “I have one tool where I took a straight pin and put it in the handle of an old paint brush.”
This really struck me, as finding sculpting tools for small work has been difficult over the years. While I've been able to buy some made specifically for sculpting, many of my most-used tools are those normally used in dentistry. (All of my mice have perfect teeth.)
I’ve also used toothpicks, drill bits, brushes, the tips of Christmas light bulbs, even ornament hooks, however it never occurred to me that a simple straight pin might be a good tool.
As it turns out, it’s a great sculpting tool. It’s one that’s extremely awkward at first, but once you get the hang of it, you have a lot of control over the finished result. The best part, if I break or lose one, replacing it is as simple as heading to any craft store in town!
We sadly lost Donna in 2011 when she passed away. However, those who collected her work still cherish her angels, houses and other adorable ornaments. If you own any of her work, next time you bring it out, consider that a simple, little pin probably helped bring it to life.
Since reading that article, I have used straight pins in addition to my regular tools to sculpt three ornaments. For the design that will commemorate Micely's third anniversary, the straight pin is the only tool I'm using.