A Bit of History . . .
Once upon a time there was a little girl who fell in love with the smell of new crayons and the quish of finger paints and paper mache. She traced her storybook illustrations and even the pussycats on her bedroom wallpaper. She meticulously followed all the craft directions in the backs of her mother’s magazines and proudly added her touch to the seasonal displays.
That little girl is still a very important part of who I am today; a short, blonde, artistic, divorced, woman still in love with the creative arts.
In 1977, I started to make things for an all “hand-made” consignment shop, ”The House at Pooh’s Corner”. The wonderful woman who owned it recognized my talent and began to buy blank pieces for me to embellish. With her support my confidence grew and my creating days really began.
A few years later, I took my, then young, son for a pre-Thanksgiving haircut. The barber shop’s reading materials were quite limited. My choices were between either a copy of “Popular Mechanic” or an Italian men’s fashion magazine, in Italian. I chose the publication in English. There was an ad, near the back, for a vibrating saw, it caught my eye. “Wonder what I could do with that sort of thing?”
Thanksgiving was at my Auntie Floss and Uncle George’s house that year. Over coffee and pumpkin pie, I casually asked my uncle (who had a workshop that resembled Sear’s) what he knew about vibrating saws. He laughed , made a face and asked me what I knew about them before disappeared from the table. He returned quickly with a small, square carton that contained a vibrating saw and a extra package of blades. He said, ”here ya go, take this home and make me something.” I began by cutting balsa wood, one little piece at a time, in simple shapes and intricately patterning them for Christmas ornaments. That saw and I did many projects together. I still have it and hold it dear.
A few years passed, on my 29th birthday, my father bought me a “Dremel” saw. I never thought that when I was a young mother, I would be so thrilled with such a gift, but indeed I was. The “Dremel” had a lot more power and it enabled me to make a variety of wooden pieces.
In 1985, with a cardboard box of wreaths, wall hangings and snowmen ornament samples, and my mother walking my children around the block in New York City, I dared to show my things to the buyer at the Museum of
American Folk Art. My hand-carved Christmas ornaments found a home. My “Men of Snow” have become my signature pieces. Joined by a wide array of other individual characters and complete collections my ornaments have been sold in many wonderful museum shops and boutiques throughout the country and beyond.
Along with continuing my ornament business, I have been a product designer in the gift industry, a design coordinator for a textile company and a craft workshop coordinator and a fine art gallery manager. More recently I began doing decorative painting in people’s homes. I especially enjoy doing murals in children’s rooms. My effecting a child’s environment is a privilege I take very seriously. Just last year, my illustrated art began to be licensed and I am looking forward to seeing my images in lots of new places.
Through all the twist and turns of these past 23 years my ornaments have been a constant. They have taught me patience and given me joy. I take great pride in producing a treasured collectible, one that has attention to detail, is individually signed and brings a smile. They have become part of many people’s holiday celebrations and that is the sweetest part.
Barbara Corcoran Clark Ornaments are each individually signed and made in the great Garden State of New Jersey, by my hand.