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Ho Ho Ho By Alice Bell
CDHM Asst Editor
CDHM category feature, christmas  in dollhouse miniatures

   CDHM category feature, hohoho its Chritsmas in dollhouse miniatures

With that immortal phrase, children of all ages know who's coming down the chimney. But how did Santa become a Santa when he started out as a Nicholas?

The venerable Christian Saint Nicholas was a man noted for his kindness, charity and faith. Santa could have no better roots than in a saint who inspired early Europeans to leave gifts of nuts, apples and sweets in shoes, on windowsills and at the hearth for family members and others.

Along with the people, the tradition of St. Nicholas's gifts traveled to America along with Dutch and German immigrants. Over the years artistic interpretations of the generous saint recreated him as less tall and stately and more short and elfin but he continued to be true to his loving and giving nature. The biggest turning point from saint to jolly old elf came with Washington Irving's satirical fiction "Knickerbocker's History of New York" in 1809, which painted a classic mental picture of St. Nicholas as a jolly little soul.

It was an image that received considerable enhancement a few years later in 1823 with the publication of "The Night Before Christmas." By the 1920s the artistic interpretation of a jolly old elf in red with a full bag of toys upon his back was firmly entrenched in the American imagination - and it was rapidly spreading to the rest of the world. By 1931 the image became the definitive Santa Claus with the release of Haddon Sundblom's wildly popular Coca-Cola® advertising campaign.

The jolly old elf has received his fair share of attention in the miniature world as well. Just take a look at Santa and the screaming child depicted by doll artist Nicky of Nicky CC Dolls & Critters.

CDHM category feature, hohoho its Chritsmas in dollhouse miniatures "I was searching through family photos for inspiration and realized that in every single Santa's grotto photo of my children they were crying! So of course it was only natural that this set ended up being created! I think it is so important for my dolls to show real life scenarios and a full range of emotions that life brings about," explained Nicky.

"I love making Santa's but find that it is a very personal thing: he has to have striking blue eyes that smile back at you, cheeks that you could pinch and an air about him that is magical! I am a traditionalist when it comes to Santa and I prefer the Victorian colorings and the traditional representations, Plus I love him with animals, reindeer and robins or a fattened goose to bring him to life. So to create more of this is both a delight and a challenge that helps keep me active," she added.

An equally amusing depiction comes from Deb Mackie of White Horse Studios', Disco Santa.

"Disco Santa is a funny story - I signed up to do a vendor's faire at the Delaware Art Museum in December last year and realized I had nothing of a holiday theme. I figured I'd try to make a couple of angels and a Santa. By the time I got to Santa, time was running out, so rather than start from scratch I thought I'd modify a cowboy doll I hadn't finished yet. While rooting around for some red fabric, I stumbled across a pair of bright red spandex leggings I wore back in my disco days! Being punchy from lack of sleep, it gave me a silly idea. I decided Mr. Cowboy didn't need to be fattened up, he just got a change in plans for his outfit. And there you have it," said Deb.

And sometimes, you just want to find the classic jolly old elf in the red suit.

CDHM category feature, hohoho its Chritsmas in dollhouse miniatures "I'm not that keen on modern Santas, so the perfect Santa in my opinion would be vintage-looking, wearing a long fur-trimmed coat and carrying a sack bulging with handmade miniature toys, all from wood, porcelain or metal - not a trace of plastic in sight!" agrees doll artist Debbie Dixon-Paver.

"As much as I like deep reds and burgundy, I think the next Santa that I make will be entirely in white or cream, with very little colour in the toys as well, everything very muted and subtle," she added.

And where would representations of Santa be without children - either screaming on his lap or children admiring what he has given them.

"Children and a Santa, what can be more magical? Christmas is something that we re-live through our children and grand children. Their faces of wonder at the many tales told is something that is incredibly special. However, I would love to do a scene that reminds us of the true meaning of Christmas, perhaps him peeking around the corner of a nativity scene with a special gift for baby Jesus, along with carolers and snow. Many moons ago, whilst in school, I still remember my headmistress giving an assembly on the meaning of Christmas. That lesson stayed with me for life," said Nicky.

"To me the most precious Christmas setting would be of children, still in their pajamas, opening their pressies on Christmas morning, or some poor urchins looking through a Toy Shop window at all of the wonderful delights, wishing that they too might get them for Christmas," said Debbie.

"I like working in themes as it gives me a sense of direction," Debbie added. CDHM category feature, hohoho its Chritsmas in dollhouse miniatures

"I decide on a theme that interests me and then create dolls around it. Some past themes include "Thank Heaven For Little Girls", "Nursery Rhyme and Story Time", "People From The Past" and "Songbook Collection", to mention just a few. Because we don't have any miniature stores where I live in South Africa, I tend to make most of my accessories and in the case of Christmas settings, all the little toys."

A chance find in a thrift store resulted in a toy-based sculpt by Nicky.

"The rocking horse was a find in a local charity shop, never opened, and I just had to give it a rider! I try to make as much of a setting as I can, but if not the best place to search is the galleries on CDHM to find an artist to create something special to go with my dolls. The dolls are unique and I like the settings and accessories to be as well," she added.

"I got started making dolls several years ago when I wanted more expressive and customized figures for my Philadelphia Flower Show Miniature Settings entries and other dioramas. Now, I seem to spend more time making dolls than I do dioramas!" said Deb.

Her favorite setting for Santa lets the young at heart, not years, have a special Christmas wish or two come true.

"Traditional Santas are nice, but I've always been one for taking to the crazy side of things. My perfect Christmas Setting would be a whole bunch of Sexy Santas bringing gifts for one lucky lady!!! Disco Santa might just find himself some helpers this year. Needless to say, my perfect mini Santa isn't a jolly old elf, but a sexy buff guy on a red Harley with a sidecar full of goodies," she said.

Take a tour through the CDHM Doll Galleries and see how many Santas you can find!

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