For the first time the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree will come from Alaska. The tree will come from Chugach National Forest and communities across the state are making ornaments to decorate it. On Friday Homer Council on the Arts held an Open Studio for Homer residents to make ornaments that will travel from the End of the Road to D.C. KBBI’s Quinton Chandler has more.
In a backroom of Homer Council on the Arts’ headquarters Annette Bellamy is overseeing a small group of children and adults engrossed in the art of pottery.
“[We’re] trying to reflect on the natural resources of Alaska and do something that has personal meaning. Each one of the people that are making something with clay and found objects will have a story behind their ornament. All the ornaments that are made will be going to D.C,” says Bellamy.
Bellamy is an accomplished artist based in Halibut Cove. She chose a boat theme for the Homer ornaments to symbolize the coastal community’s dependence on the ocean.
“I have not instructed very much. I had some forms that were in boat form so that they could do a subtractive technique and do some kind of a boat form. They kind of took off and are just using the balls of clay and going with hand building. They’re making their own ideas,” says Bellamy.
The nonprofit Alaska Geographic will take charge of the ornaments once they’re all finished. The goal is to collect at least 4,000 pieces from communities around the state. The Homer contribution will be shipped to Anchorage October 1st.
“Today we used paper clay. Celia did a piece that was a paper clay boat and she added glass and found objects,” says Bellamy.
10 year old Celia Fitzpatrick of Homer put together two pieces.
“I put some of the clay shavings, I also put a big wheel with my name on it and some sea glass,” says Celia.
Celia’s pieces and the others are drying in cardboard boxes off to the side. Bellamy says the objects added to the clay will be removed temporarily so the ornaments can be fired inside a kiln.
“And then we’re going to get together and we’ll add all the found objects. [We’ll] glue them in [and] attach them. Some will be strung with beads and then we’re going to put color on the paint and we’ll seal it. I think I’m going to use some kind of a wax to seal them,” says Bellamy.
Krystal Butcher is relatively new to clay work. Her ornament is a bird. She says she started with the idea of a chickadee or a sparrow.
“I’m just carving designs in it. Whatever comes to mind. I wrote peace and love in it. I got a heart carved in it and swirls and [it’s] flowery. That’s me,” says Butcher.
When she saw the announcement about the Open Studio, Butcher thought she couldn’t pass it up.
“I got to be a part of that because I’m an artist. I have a studio here in Homer. I love art and my daughter loves art and she’s done clay work before. I just thought it was a perfect opportunity to be a part of something in the community and in our nation. A little bit of everything,” says Butcher.
Bellamy says the artists working today most likely won’t be able to see the tree except through pictures. But, she says the work itself is its own kind of reward.
“I think right now the main focus is just the activity. It’s just a fun creative activity. I don’t know if there’s any fame and glory to it but I’m happy to see everybody participating,” says Bellamy.
Homer Council on the Arts will have one more Open Studio dedicated to crafting ornaments on Friday, September 11th.