Navajo Fabric Ornaments and Nativities by Sylvia Begaye

Sylvia Wreath Navajo Nativity

Sylvia Begaye is a talented Navajo artist from Fort Defiance, Arizona. She makes small fabric doll ornaments that represent the Navajo styles of dress, hair, and jewelry. Sometimes wooden cradleboards hold their babies. The ones with cradleboards are called “Madonna and Child“. Those with gray hair are called “Grandmothers“.

Sylvia Begaye Madonna and Grandma

Sylvia’s faces always look like Navajo faces. Her delicate piped-on jewelry looks like the real silver and turquoise jewelry the Navajo jewelers make to sell and wear themselves. These ornaments have been sold for many years at Susan’s Christmas Shop, as well as Sylvia’s wreaths, velvet angels, and Navajo-style Santa ornaments.

Check all Sylvia Begaye’s works here!

New Mexico State Collectors Ornament 2016-2017


This special ornament is from a series of collectible ornaments created by the New Mexico Governor’s Mansion Foundation. It features the high desert landscape of New Mexico, with a Zia symbol in the sky at the time of a sunset. Squash Blossom necklaces made of silver and turquoise are now called New Mexico’s State Necklace.


The ornament uses the pendant of this type of jewelry, not in real sterling silver and genuine turquoise stones, but imitation Rhodium plated metal and turquoise colored paint. All proceeds from the ornament sales benefit the Governor’s Mansion Foundation, a non-partisan, non-profit organization of volunteers responsible for the design and preservation of the Governor’s residence.

This ornament is now out of stock.

Southwest Church Scale Models By Carolyn Johnson

Southwest Church Scale Models By Carolyn Johnson

Carolyn Johnson has been making detailed small models of southwest churches since 1981. These models have just become better and more detailed as the years passed. Carolyn now makes over fifty different churches and continues to make new ones from time to time. Her church models can hang as a Christmas ornament or they can sit on a shelf. Carolyn began selling her work to Susan’s Christmas Shop in 1991. There are two wooden shelves on the south adobe wall of my shop, by the front door. Each shelf has dozens of small square openings, each opening the right size to hold a church model. On the bottom of each church model is a paper with information about that church. Most of the churches are located in New Mexico, but a few are in what is now Texas. The most popular church models are the ones shown here: the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe, the Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe, and the Santuario de Chimayo, a beloved pilgrim’s destination on the High Road to Taos.

A typical church model is two inches tall. Find them all here!

The Work by Angel Bailon of Santo Domingo Pueblo

Santo Domingo is south of Santa Fe, about half way to Albuquerque on the Rio Grande. Recently, the council of Santo Domingo Pueblo announced that the official name for the pueblo is now Kewa. In practice, most people continue to call this pueblo by the name of its saint, Santo Domingo. Santo Domingo is known for pottery and jewelry, especially the drilled shell beads known as heishi and mosaic on shell. This large pueblo is also famous for its spectacular dances on its long plaza with hundreds of dancers of all ages. The impressive annual feast day of Santo Domingo is August 4th.

Santo Doming Flight into Egypt by Angel Bailon (2014)
Santo Doming Flight into Egypt by Angel Bailon (2014)

Most Santo Domingo Pueblo people are usually prohibited from making pottery figures, but Angel Bailon is permitted to make them because she was not born at the pueblo. Angel was born at Jemez Pueblo. She did marry a Santo Domingo Pueblo man and moved to his village. Angel has made charming nativities for years, but her son recently suggested she make a Flight into Egypt. Here Joseph, with his wooden staff, guides the donkey carrying Mary and her baby on their way to safety in Egypt. The painted designs on the hand formed pottery figures are traditional Santo Domingo pottery designs.

Click here for more works by Angel Bailon.

Charlie Carrillo’s Retablo

Charlie Carrillo is a local santero in Santa Fe, making art in the New Mexico Spanish Colonial Style. He has been a friend of mine for many years. In northern New Mexico, the word santero is understood to mean a person who makes religious images. Charlie once told me that santero is “a made up word”. Don’t look for it in a Spanish dictionary or use it in South America. They will not know what you mean, but in Santa Fe it is a useful word because of Spanish Market on the plaza in late July.

Charlie has a PhD in anthropology. He has written several books, and he has taught most of the artists who currently show at Spanish Market. He and his family have a booth at Spanish Market, usually on the west side of the plaza, opposite the First National Bank.

Charlie Carrillo was recently in a terrible automobile accident. He was a passenger in his car on the Interstate close to Santa Fe at 9:30 in the morning. His wife, Debbie, was driving at a normal highway speed when they were hit from behind at ninety miles an hour. Both cars spun out of control. Charlie’s air bag did not deploy. He broke twenty-three bones, including his back. I learned about the accident from a customer in Michigan (thanks, Kim!) and I immediately went to the hospital to see him. Charlie was cheerful, realistic about his injuries, but confident that he would heal. He soon acquired a body cast and was sent home. A big sign on his front door reads, “Come in please”.

I learned that the driver who hit his car was under-insured. Charlie will not be able to work for months. He will need some money. I thought of a way I could help him. It is related to a long association with this talented man.

Charlie Carrillo's Nativity
Many years ago, Charlie designed a nativity in a New Mexico Spanish Colonial style. This nativity was reproduced and sold by a national company. It could stand on a shelf or be displayed on a wall.

My shop sold hundreds of these popular reproduction nativities. I remember Charlie kneeling on my living room floor, signing the bottom of the nichos, the wooden cabinets that held the figures. The reproduction nativity was made in the Philippines. They seemed to understand the style because they had also had a Spanish Colonial history. Eventually, the Philippine factory closed and the production was moved to China. When there were problems with the quality of the Chinese work, and when we mentioned these problems, the company simply decided not to make them any more. We could not change their mind. My shop keeps a request list of customers who want to buy one if they are ever available again.

Charlie Carrillo Poster 2005In 2004, I asked Charlie Carrillo to design a logo for the biennial convention I was hosting in Santa Fe in 2005 for Friends of the Creche. This organization is for people who are interested in nativities. Because we were already friends for years, and because the reproduction nativity was still available, Charlie generously created this logo as a watercolor.

It is now framed in my house. The calligraphy is by Kathy Chilton. Charlie and Kathy were both speakers at the convention, which I called Land of Enchanting Nativities.

To raise money for Charlie Carrillo in his hour of need, I recently asked Lynn Garlick of Lynn Garlick Retablos in Taos to help, using Charlie’s logo to make an ornament. Lynn makes the many retablo ornaments I sell in my shop.

Then I got Charlie’s written permission to use his image. Michela, my employee who is so talented in computer technology, removed “Santa Fe 2005”, which you can see on the framed original, and improved the quality of the image for reproduction. Lynn produced a retablo ornament at a reduced wholesale price, as her personal contribution to Charlie. It is five inches tall.

Charlie Carrillo’s Retablo by Lynn Garlick

Susan’s Christmas Shop will sell these retablo ornaments for $12 each, and all profit will be donated directly to Charlie. These ornaments are already selling briskly in my shop, but you can now order them on my website or by phone: +1 505 983 2127.

Thank you for reading my appeal to help Charlie Carrillo. I wish you a beautiful spring, wherever you are in this wide world.

Your friend in Santa Fe,
Susan Weber

Retablos by Lynn Garlick

Retablos by Lynn Garlick

Lynn Garlick lives in Taos, New Mexico. She paints religious images in the regional style of New Mexico retablos, or a flat representation of a saint. She prints these images and she glues them onto lightweight wood in several sizes. Her retablos can be used as Christmas ornaments or be hung on a wall. More specific information about each saint is wood burned on the back of the retablo. Susan’s Christmas Shop has sold these for many years, beginning in the 1980s. Among the most popular retablos are St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of Santa Fe; Our Lady of Guadalupe; and San Pasqual, the patron saint of the cooks.

Check all her retablos here!

Lynn Garlick in her workshop