An exclusive look at the making of the 2017 Palmer Ornament
Ornaments don’t grow on trees.
Scientists at the North Pole can continue trying to sort that one out, but in the meantime Mother Nature has given us Christine Stangel.
A former elementary school teacher, a mother of four and a wife to one, Stangel has successfully reinvented herself as a potter in less than a decade.
She has a website, a regular presence at area craft shows and a large kiln protruding from a subterranean corner of the family home in Boalsburg.
“When I bought this house, I said, ‘Can I see your unfinished basement first?’ ” Stangel said.
Most recently, Stangel handcrafted 75 signature ornaments that were commissioned for Saturday’s holiday sale at the Palmer Museum of Art.
The annual fundraiser will pair her flair for the ceramic with an assortment of glass, beads, metal and fiber contributed by several other local artists.
“I would say this is my biggest achievement in pottery,” Stangel said.
Pre-kiln, Stangel was just another student in a 30-minute class held at the Deer Valley YMCA.
Now she has a potter’s wheel in her basement and a garage full of bowls, platters and jars (Stangel loves making jars) awaiting transport to different holiday craft shows throughout Centre County.
“It’s my Super Bowl weekend. My family has not eaten a real meal in a week,” Stangel said.
The hard work seems to have paid off. Erin Coe, director of the Palmer Museum of Art, said that three ornament designs Stangel crafted were works of art unto themselves.
“She also encourages people to participate in the educational programming we offer, as well as the gala, and membership,” Coe said.
Stangle is aware that her ornaments have the potential to become part of another family’s holiday traditions. She loves watching people interact with her work.
“I think that’s my greatest joy,” Stangel said.
If You Go
What: Holiday Art and Ornament Sale fundraiser
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2
Where: Palmer Museum of Art, University Park