Advent in Santa Fe 2018

Spanish Colonial Play Los Pastores Santa Fe NM

December 6th is Saint Nicholas Day. My Albuquerque friend, Kathy Chilton, has a family tradition where everyone writes a letter to Saint Nicholas on the eve of Saint Nicholas Day, telling him what to bring them for Christmas. One year, Kathy had a houseguest from Nepal, who had never heard of Santa, but who was willing to write a letter with the other family members. When everyone was asleep, Kathy and her husband read his letter. He asked for a picture of Santa in a glass ball, so he could show his family in Nepal when he returned. Kathy realized he was asking for a Santa in a snow globe. She looked everywhere but could not find one. Reluctantly, she got him a practical Christmas gift instead.

Santa Snow GlobeOn Christmas Eve, Kathy always had a dinner at her home, asking the guests to bring a Christmas gift. One guest brought a gift for the man from Nepal. She said to Kathy in the kitchen, “I don’t know what he’ll do with it, and it’s a bit heavy, but…” To Kathy’s amazement, it was a Santa in a snow globe. Now Kathy says she believes in Santa Claus.

That story and many more are in the book about my shop, Susan’s Christmas Shop.

Santa Fe is starting to look like Christmas. The electric lights in the plaza trees were dramatically lit the night after Thanksgiving, preceded by a loud countdown by the crowd on the plaza and followed by great cheers.

Christmas-Santa-Fe-Plaza-Lights

It’s all fun, but it was a bit like Time Square with so many brightly colored electric lights. The quietly burning candles nestled in sand inside their paper bags on the ground were overlooked, even trampled on by the enormous crowd on the plaza that night. I’m glad I have seen Christmas displays in past years where the serene beauty of hundred of glowing luminarias or farolitos inspired awe, quiet contemplation and anticipation, heightened by the fact that the beauty was only for a few hours and would disappear by dawn.

Spanish Colonial Play Los Pastores Santa Fe NM

Sunday night was Las Posadas on the plaza. The Santa Fe plaza version has included the role of the devil since 1982 when the neighborhood on San Antonio Street agreed to perform their unique version on the plaza. The devil character was borrowed from another Spanish Colonial play Los Pastores. Saint Michael fights the devil in this play and always wins. A group from Belen, New Mexico, will perform Los Pastores at the convention of nativity collectors in Santa Fe next November. They own a rare script from New Mexico’s colonial days. Belen is the Spanish name for Bethlehem.

Last year, the devil’s role in Las Posadas on the plaza was censored and expelled, and the public missed that comic feature. This year, the devil’s role returned to delight the crowd as it followed Mary and Joseph around the plaza, looking for room at the inn. Finally, they all entered the courtyard of the Palace of the Governors for an hour of wonderful local, live Christmas music in English and Spanish under the stars. Don’t miss this event if you are in Santa Fe.

Christmas-Model-Train-Santa-Fe-NM

The model train in the lobby of First National Bank on the plaza begins running today, delighting children of all ages till Christmas.Christmas-Model-Train-Santa-Fe-NM Engineer

Here is an engineer I know. He’s wearing a real Rio Grande Railroad hat, and his vest is real railroad uniform too.

Does this make you want to come to Santa Fe at Christmas?
If you live too far away to do this, I send my affectionate greetings, wherever you live in this wide world.

Happy Advent!

Susan Topp Weber

Louise Ortega Nativities and Wooden Angels

This nativity by Louise Alvarez is made of driftwood she finds along the shores of lakes. Louise is the youngest child in the large family of the late Ben Ortega of Tesuque. Ben was famous for his unpainted wooden figures of Saint Francis. Louise was married to David Alvarez, another talented folk artist, and David and Louise made many pieces together.

Louise Ortega Angels New Mexico
Wooden Angels by David Alvarez (2009).

Since David’s death in 2010, Louise has continued to create driftwood angels and nativities, and she now signs her work with her famous maiden name, Louise Ortega. The nativity above is her masterpiece. It includes a shepherd with his flock of sheep, the three wise men, and the nativity, with two hovering angels above. The figures are all pegged into the base.

Check at this link for wooden angels and nativities by Louise Ortega!

Louise Ortega Wooden Angels New Mexico
Louise Ortega in front of her Art Studio, New Mexico.

Split-Cast Acoma Bell and Cat Ornaments by Priscilla Jim

Priscilla Jim lives in Acomita, one of the villages below the ancient pueblo of Acoma, an hour’s drive west of Albuquerque. She paints traditional Acoma pottery designs onto white slip-cast bells and cats. She uses the traditional black paint for Acoma pots, made from a native plant called Rocky Mountain beeweed. This plant is boiled down to make the black paint. Sometimes the paint is poured into a small corn husk basin to cool. If it cools in the pot it is though to remove. The corn husk acts as a disposable palette for the paint.

Priscilla’s bells and cats have been among the most popular ornaments at Susan’s Christmas Shop since the 1980s. Priscilla delivers her work to my house before 8:00 a.m., after a two-hour drive from Acomita. Then we talk like old friends. I recently learned that her late grandmother, Frances Torivio, made a large Acoma pot in my collection. Frances Torivio is considered a matriarch of Acoma pottery. Perhaps Priscilla inherited her grandmother’s painting skills.

Clay Ornament

For more works by Priscilla Jim, click here!

Santa Collection

STRIDING SANTA GERMAN PEWTER

Santa Claus is well known and well loved by children and the young at heart. We now have a new category on our website called the Santa Collection. Check it for all kinds of unusual Santas. Some are German, some are southwest, some are wooden, some are hand woven, some are painted pewter, and some are pueblo pottery.

SANTA CHILES BY MELISSA WEBER

Our beaded Santas can be worn as jewelry. Santa Chiles can hang on your tree. Susan’s daughter, Melissa, made both the jewelry and the chiles.

Santa collectors now have a place to search for something new for Christmas!

Jemez Pottery Craft by Maxine Toya

Maxine Toya Jemez Pottery Nativity

Maxine Toya is the talented daughter of Marie Romero. She began by helping her family with pottery chores. This is a familiar pattern among Pueblo families. She made her own pottery beginning in 1974. Maxine’s donkey in this nativity has a blanket painted with a fringe similar to the one made by her mother, Marie. Like her mother, Maxine is a prize-winning potter at Indian Market in Santa Fe. She sometimes combines her figures into groups. Her standing figures all have closed eyes. The carefully painted detail distinguishes this nativity, as well as the sweet little Pueblo drummer boy with his drumstick raised in the air. The angel’s wings have a lovely feather design. This was made in 2014 for Indian Market. Maxine has sold her work at Indian Market for forty years, presumably beginning in her own mother’s booth.

Click here to check Maxine Toya most recent nativity!

Maxine Toya pottery angel JemezMaxine recently brought us two angels in this style to sell separately. They have a bit of shine to their robes because the clay slip on their robes has mica in it. Their wings are beautifully painted with pueblo designs. Call us if you wish to know more:
(505) 983-2127.

Susan’s Easter Eggs 2018

Pysanky Easter Egg Demonstration

Easter is now on display here at the shop. It’s an egg collector’s dream. Eggs are really fun to collect, I assure you. My own collection brings me great pleasure and I hope to write a book about decorated eggs some day.

Easter decorate eggs lovers

Susan’s Easter Shop offers decorated eggshells from Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Canada and New Mexico. Ukrainian Easter eggs are called pysanky. Shirley Buchy is a talented maker of pysanka in Canada. Her work is the finest I have seen, but she is now retired because her eyesight is no longer good enough. I have three eggs by Shirley Buchy – featured in the picture at the top. The goose egg is $195 and each chicken egg is $75. I will never have this quality again, so here is a unique opportunity for collectors. Please call if you want one: (505) 983 2127.

Pysanky Ukrainian Easter Egg DemonstrationThere will be a
Free Demonstration
of how to make pysanky on
Saturday, March 10th
from 1:00 to 4:00 pm
in the Exchange Room at La Fonda.

The technique is over two thousand years old. It involves pure beeswax, a writing tool called a kistka, jars of brilliant dyes, uncooked eggs, time, skill, and patience. It’s fascinating to watch. Susan Summers will be there. She sometimes uses southwest designs on her eggs. Melissa Lewis will demonstrate the less challenging “drop pull” technique.

Supplies to make pysanky can be found here!

Wear Your Heart On Your Sleeve!

Billie Beads Heart Pins

January is almost over. It is time to think of Valentine’s Day, a chance to show your affection to friends and family. It’s only two weeks away, so please check our Valentines for new ways to assure and reassure others of your feelings.

Happy Valentine’s Day… from Susan’s Christmas Shop!

PS: the beautiful pins in the photo are fashioned out of polymer clay and have crystals set into them. They are made by New York artist Billie Beads.

The Church of the Holy Faith Glass Ornament

CHURCH OF THE HOLY FAITH GLASS ORNAMENT

Our newest glass ornament for 2017!

The Church of the Holy Faith on East Palace Avenue is the oldest Episcopal Church in New Mexico. It is known for its beautiful nineteenth century leaded glass windows in the sanctuary. The most gorgeous window of the church is the Good Shepherd window. Originally this window was above the altar and the church was called The Church of the Good Shepherd. Later, the church was enlarged by Santa Fe architect John Gaw Meem. The window was moved to one side and church became The Church of the Holy Faith, the translation of Santa Fe in English.

CHURCH OF THE HOLY FAITH GLASS ORNAMENT
The Church of the Holy Faith Glass Ornament, back.

This glass replica of The Church of The Holy Faith was created in Poland. A clay model was sculpted to create a mold. The mold was used to blow a glass ornament with the breath of a skilled glass blower. The resulting clear glass shape was silvered inside with a liquid silver. Artists painted the outside of the ornament. Finally, a cap was inserted. It takes almost a week to make one, every step by hand. Ten percent of the sales price will de donated to The Church of the Holy Faith in Santa Fe.

You can order your Holy Faith glass ornament at this link.