“O” as in Ornament



As I took down my Christmas tree this year, I set aside my collection of Ornaments I had made over the years so I could photograph them as a whole. I wanted a record of all my designs. One Ornament that I do not have is the turtle, so it is here in spirit.

Many thousands of these Ornaments were sold across the USA, Canada, the Carribbean, and Hawaii. I have many customers who bought them every year for themselves and as gifts. They cherished them as their own new Christmas tradition.

I have "Thanks" to offer them as well. This is where I learned all about coloring clay, making patterns, executing designs, planning production, tweaking designs, marketing, shipping and bookkeeping.

They challenged me by warping and cracking and just generally making my life miserable by being harder to create than I imagined. How to make a flat object look like it is moving? How to create a grass skirt? What does that beach really look like? How are African patterns different than our own? Why did I decide to drape a lei around that palm tree?

Several were custom designs for specific Galleries so I also learned about collaboration. Sometimes I could be creative but others needed the real thing right down to the smallest detail. My only failure was a mountain resort … the mountain was just a flipped ‘ L' … I could not find any way to make it look better and I really tried!

My favorite thing was the yearly phone call from someone who had broken an Ornament while decorating their tree and needed a replacement before it was noticed. This is likely how my last Turtle disappeared.

The rise of inexpensive imported Holiday Ornaments was one thing I could not conquer. None of my Ornaments lit up or played music. Tough competition.

Naturally, the end of the journey came right after I had ordered another 6,000 custom made boxes! Funny now, but they sure took up a lot of space until I found someone to sell them to.

As I look back on those years I realize that even though it was challenging and fun, I was ready to move on. I began to create the larger, beautiful pieces you see today. 

Because of all the Ornaments taught me, I can push the boundaries of colored clay from a sturdy foundation of experience. Now, as then, failure is always an option.

I also learned there is no such thing as a wasted effort when it comes to Mastering your Craft. Day in and out, for better or worse, they taught me lessons that built my skills and broadened my knowledge … a pretty good deal.

So if you have read down this far … another thing I learned was … do not to tell people you make Ornaments unless you want to see an eye roll. 

It’s just such a girlie thing to do, eh? 


Copyright © Chris Campbell Pottery, LLC  chris@ccpottery.com