Kathleen McDonald has been crocheting, sewing, needlepointing, embroidering and creating Christmas ornaments since she was five years old. She is a self-taught artist.
When she sees a holiday antique that inspires her, she examines the piece carefully- without damaging the original- to see how it was constructed. Her background in needle arts and other crafts, which has been very helpful in identifying the original materials used and methods of construction.
She tries to duplicate the old methods as closely as possible.
"Iím always looking for Holiday collectibles at antiques shops and fairs," she noted. "When my husband and I travel, I also search out Christmas Museums, and Antique Doll and Toy Museums. Those in Germany, Austria and Switzerland have been a particular wealth of information and inspiration."
Her chalkware figurines are all individually hand-cast from her collection of antique chocolate molds. Often she refers to antique Christmas postcards for inspiration on color and design. The process is very labor-intensive. Each piece is sanded and then hand-painted and detailed. Next the piece is gently aged to give it a vintage look, and finally sealed to protect the figurine.
McDonald also creates Christmas ornaments and other holiday decorations based on vintage designs. She is particularly drawn to pieces of the late nineteenth to early twentieth centuries, around 1880 to 1920. Beautiful materials such as Dresden trims and German tinsel help to create a vintage appearance. Her ambition is to create unique, one-of a kind decorations and ornaments which will become new keepsakes for years to come.
McDonald enjoys collecting antiques, travel, music and reading. She lives in Woodbury, Connecticut, with her husband, Larry.
Artists appearing in the 20201 Directory of Traditional American Crafts have been selected, and the best of their handiwork has been photographed at Cedar Grove, an 18th Century house museum operated by the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Look for the Directory in our August 2021 issue.
1,841 days until America's Sestercentennial
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