The heART of a Dirty South Holiday

Hello Dirty Southerners! We have found ourselves at the start of the holiday season once again, and like always it has taken us by surprise. Who knew that August, September and October went by so quickly?

We are currently in the midst of the Holiday Hop, a 4-day shopping event in Downtown Winchester that kicks off the shopping season for all the local businesses. With this comes decorating the iconic lampposts, festive music and of course, holiday window setups. Main Street Winchester hosts a window display contest every year between the stores to see who can collect the most ‘likes’ for their windows. Since I LOVE a good theme, I always try to match what the parade motif is each year. When it was announced a few months ago that the theme this year was ‘The HeART of Christmas; a tribute to art and handmade in our community’ my wheels started to turn.

And then, they stopped. Halted. Stagnant.

I allowed the days and weeks to creep by without giving our window much thought until I realized that we were nearing crunch time. So, Carvel and I sat down and brainstormed ideas until we found one that really excited both of us.

What if we were to not only showcase what our process is as ceramic artists, but also demonstrate the maker’s role in Christmas? I believe that everyone, (yes even you), is a maker in their own way. The holidays are when this comes out the most! From making bread, to arranging a table, gift wrapping, decorating, or just creatively coming up with gift ideas for your loved ones – we are all makers are worthy of celebrating.

On one side of our window, you see the words ‘The heART of a handmade holiday” hanging, with the progression of a piece of pottery from start to finish. My wonderful sister helped with the task of wrapping each cardboard letter with yarn, while I sharpened my problem-solving skills trying to figure out a way to suspend them in the air. After several hours split over 2 days, the mission was accomplished. We then placed the 5 pieces of pottery in the window to represent the different stages of progression: greenware, bisque ware, glazing, glazed, and completed. We believe that the heart of handmade is in the process that it takes to make the piece. That is where all the love and charm come into play, and that’s what is to be celebrated.

On the other side, we see a living room that is ready for the holidays. Or is it in the process of getting ready for the holidays? There is a tree, made of dowel rods and plastic table clothes, that is being poured from paint cans above. On the wall is a 3-D fireplace made of paper, as well as garland from table clothes. On the floor, a partially wrapped gift. Our thought behind this window was to show the creation of the traditional holiday décor, made from unlikely and cheap supplies. It demonstrates how we make what we need during the holidays, and that it doesn’t take much to create something wonderful. In the coming weeks I will be posting a blog that shows how I made the tree, as well as one to share ideas of decorating your gifts with unlikely adornments.

When it really comes down to it, I think what the core of my inspiration is that the holidays are really what you make of them. There are plenty of wealthy folks who are miserable with all the gifts in the world, and plenty of joyous families who have nothing but love and memories to give for the holidays. No matter what your resources, you create what kind of holiday you have, mold it from your attitude and perspective, then put it out into the world for others to see. We are all the makers of our own holidays, so let’s always make them happier, stronger and brighter than ever. Be the maker.

Ashley Norman

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