Confession: I don't put up a tree during the holidays. My living space is modest in size and I've never adored the ritual of cutting down a whole tree, only to curb it a few weeks later. But I'm not a Grinch — I enjoy expressions of seasonal cheer during the bleak months as much as anyone. And somehow, I've accumulated quite the collection of ornaments, which hang in the windows and from the crown molding.
Ornaments make great gifts. They're versatile, and you can truly find something for everyone. They can serve as a small gift for an office mate or party hostess, or supplemental gifts for loved ones. And they can be found locally: Several Rochester artists, each working in different media, have put their own twists to holiday ornaments.
A one-woman operation, Cat Clay offers a truly huge variety of ornaments for various holidays, as well as any ole time of year. Included in this latter group are the fortune cookie ornaments, which are folded and pinched slabs of clay textured with various patterns, and glazed in a variety of hues. One of the coolest parts about this ornament is that you can slip a customized message into the cookie.
Many of Cat Clay's ornaments appeal to specific fandoms, including hand-designed decals with such imagery as "Doctor Who" Daleks with the phrase "Celebrate!" or the Weeping Angel with the word "Hark!"; the "Star Trek" Vulcan "Live Long and Prosper" hand or the Starship Enterprise with the phrase "Make it Snow!"; or the "Star Wars" Death Star snowflake.
For those with hometown pride, Sabra Wood (the woman behind Cat Clay) offers ornaments adorned with the Flower City logo arranged into a star, or a crow with a Rochester logo snowflake, among others. Her Celebrity Mugshots series has expanded from mugs to ornaments, too, so you have options for fans of everyone from David Bowie (arrested in Rochester on March 25, 1976), to Martha Stewart. Hint: There are lots of musicians in this category.
Aside from all of the pop culture, Wood also makes sweet, snarky, and clever ornaments, such as the Gingerbread Men (with various limbs bitten off), or the fuzzy ocean puppies with the phrase "We Otter Celebrate." Cat Clay offers loads of decorations for hyper-specific fans, as well as plenty of pretty ornaments suitable for anyone on your list. You can check out her ornaments and the rest of her beautiful wares at Cat Clay (studio 242, floor 2, The Hungerford Building, 1115 East Main Street) or visit her website at catclay.com. Cat Clay will host a group Holiday Sale on December 4, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; and December 5, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wood's ornaments will be available at the Memorial Art Gallery Store through the holiday season as well.
The Knotty Owl creator Ashley Landon is known for her serious skills with wood burning and staining stunning natural imagery onto hand-carved wood, and making it-girl adornments with them. Popular creations include moon phases, detailed leaves and feathers, serpents, moths, and of course, owls. She's also branched out to create bird skull pendants, snake arm cuffs, foliage hairpins, and other items with cast, forged, and etched metal.
This year, TKO (which I affectionately think of as The Knock Out) will offer a variety of her nature-based creations in ornament form. So far, this includes small wood-burned and painted feathers (I can see a whole tree decked out with dozens of these and tiny twinkling fairy lights), but Landon is busy creating a whole line of ornaments, in the same vein as her jewelry, ready for the holiday season.
These will include floral designs, mixed with butterflies and other beautiful insects, trees, and some animal skulls for a more niche audience.
Because they're so neutral in theme, The Knotty Owl's ornaments are suitable for year-round home décor, especially for the nature lovers. Check out Landon's wares at Second Storie Market (November 28, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the VSW Auditorium at 31 Prince Street), and Cat Clay's Holiday Sale (December 4 and 5). To preview and purchase her work, and for more information on craft fairs, visit theknottyowl.com.
Jina Park, the woman behind Moya Lazy Factory's sweet and funny fiber creations, also offers many of her cute creatures in ornament form. The most common are piglets, angel bunnies, penguins, and bears, often in patterned pajamas or swaddled in colorful cloth. Some of the critters are also set in a festive glitter-covered ring ornament.
Park's more off-beat creations include double-headed bunnies; mustachioed bunnies; coiled poo with smiling; friendly yetis; tiny green Yodas; and wooly Wookies, which are little more than a mass of brown fur, two beady eyes, and a bandolier, but immediately recognizable.
Not all of the ornaments depict creatures. Park also creates little winter wonderlands in glass teacups. The interior is transformed into a snowy scene with quartz for ice, tiny trees, and fiber snowmen. With a ribbon tied around the handle, the ornament tips toward the viewer to showcase the little world.
All cuteness aside, Park has made some more serious pieces for different shows around town. For her "Tiny Twisted Worlds" show at Cat Clay, she created a tribute and memorial piece to Trayvon Martin (in bunny form), sewed into a hooded sweatshirt, and laying on a bed of actual skittles.
You can check out and purchase Moya Lazy Factory's work at etsy.com/shop/moyalazyfactory. Park will also be present at the Holiday Bazaar Arts & Crafts Sale at RMSC from November 20 to 22. For more information, visit rmsc.org.
More Fire Glass Studio (80 Rockwood Place) offers an eclectic sampling of hand-blown and cast glass ornaments, ranging from traditional themes to special interests, as well as other glass goods to fill your home with warmth and light. These include votive holders made of delicate and expressive glass petals, elegant vases, and beautiful bird sculptures.
The ornaments are a team effort between founder Elizabeth Lyons, studio manager Jennifer Schinzing, and others. Some of my favorites include the wide variety of colorful, light-catching globes (there are buckets full of them, and you could spend hours picking out your favorite hues and textures), and the utterly perfect candy canes that look good enough to nibble.
In addition to pretty, traditional pieces like the Christmas pickle ornament, crystalline snowflakes, snowmen, or amanita mushrooms (the red caps with the white dots), there are lots of options for those with specific interests. Hit the breakfast enthusiast friend with the scrumptious-looking bacon and eggs set, or your yogi friends with the Om symbol.
Other special-interest ornaments are created in tribute to businesses that surround More Fire's neighbors. These include pieces with imagery of bicycles (in tribute to Tryon Bike), and pet paws (Dog E. Woggy's K-9 Playtime). And proceeds of a special pink ribbon ornament will benefit Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester.
The ornaments and more will be available for purchase at More Fire's Annual Holiday Sale, on Friday, November 27, through Sunday, November 29, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Saturday, December 5, and Sunday, December 6, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be glass blowing demos each day of the event. For more information, visit morefireglass.com.