Edythe Kegrize

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Keepsake Artist Edythe Kegrize

Edythe Kegrize signature

Edythe Kegrize

Title: Hallmark Master Designer
Date started at Hallmark: 1979
Date started at Keepsakes: 2002
Hometown: Pennsylvania

Edythe Kegrize had an in-depth love of three-dimensional art ever since she was young. She remembers making all kinds of creations from scraps around the house, including a tiny paper television with pictures that rotated with the turn of a knob and a crèche fashioned out of laundry detergent and food coloring.

Edythe's talents blossomed with the help of her loving family. Her grandmother saved tidbits of fabric, trims and pretty papers. Her mother never hindered her daughter's creativity despite the risks of having holes cut in tablecloths or glue on the rug. From her father, Edythe inherited attention to detail, patience and mechanical curiosity that make her Keepsake designs so intricate.

While in college, Edythe majored in illustration, but also was inspired by ceramics and weaving classes. At Hallmark, she would often devise unique folding cards that brought an extra dimension to her designs. Edythe featured needlework and collages in her greeting cards and crafted several original dolls to be photographed for select card collections.

With nearly 25 years of experience illustrating greeting cards, Edythe cultivated an appreciation for a wide range of decorative surface designs, from traditional folk art to classic, elegant scrollwork. This is perhaps most evident in the details of her Santa's Around the World unofficial series.

Festive Flyer 2016 Keepsake Ornament

Festive Flyer

What Keepsake Artist Edythe Kegrize likes most about this Santa ornament is that it looks as though it has been carefully assembled by hand from many pieces. Because it has!

“I think it came out great,” Edythe says. “It looks really different than anything we’ve done before.
The Festive Flyer features etched metal over a glass ornament and mixed materials throughout the design: red and gold wire intertwined, a gold chain, gold charms, and red fabric for the flags.

Her inspiration came from whimsical, nostalgic images she found in the Hallmark archives. “I found a lot of things that were very decorative, but also playful,” Edythe says. “I was loosely inspired by that kind of sensibility.”

Because of the elaborate design, Edythe made a complex working mockup that included every detail. She found the right size of glass ball, roughed out the golden metal overlay, used paper to test the proportions of the basket weave against the modeling clay, and twisted the basket’s supporting wires herself.

“I wanted to make sure that it could work,” she says. “When it’s something we haven’t really tried before, I try to go the extra mile to make sure I’ve thought through all the intricacies of the construction.”

She included a lot of crystal too, because that’s one of her favorite things to add. “I always like a little bling.” She imagines the balloon would be Santa’s fanciest transportation option, and that he’s looking through his telescope as part of a practice run, scouting out his delivery locations.

2016 Keepsake Ornament Pretty Peacock

Pretty Peacock

Typically, the birds Edythe makes represent species very common in North America, like the cardinal or the oriole. She’s glad that she got the chance to branch out with this one. “I’ve always wanted to try birds that were a little more exotic and this gave me the perfect opportunity,” she says.

Made of porcelain with an etched metal overlay, the peacock has several crystals accentuating its tail feathers. She typically moves from sketches to prototype, but had to do a rough sculpt of the peacock to find the center of gravity.

“That’s why his tail feathers bend backward so much, so I could distribute the weight,” Edythe says. “However I do think it shows off his feathers really well.”

The gold outline on the wings is a nod to Edythe’s The Beauty of Birds series. “They all have a little curlicue in their wings like this fella does.”

Edythe said she was inspired by heritage glass—jewelry, vases, perfume bottles, and trivets with delicate metal overlays. “I’ve always admired those,” Edythe says. “They have that very decorative quality that appeals to me. All that stuff is floating around in my head as I design.”

2016 Keepsake Ornament Festive Santa

Festive Santa

Edythe worked with fellow artist Katrina Bricker on this version of the classic Father Christmas look. Edythe created the original sketch for the concept and Katrina finished out the design, which featured Edythe’s metal overlay for the coat and fired-on decals.

Edythe says they make a good team in part because Katrina knows that Santa’s form has to accommodate metal that will only bend one way. “We worked pretty closely on the shape. As she sculpted, I made a little pattern and it worked out really nicely.”

The main challenge was the intricacy of the leaves. “There are so many little pokey leaves,” Edythe says. “You have to make them connect, but not make them look stuck together.”

They used a process called half-etching, which means that instead of lasering all the way through the metal it just goes in far enough to make a small impression in the surface. The gold makes quite an impression against the deep green. And naturally, there are a lot of crystals in Santa’s coat. “He’s full of bling!”

2015 Keepsake Ornaments

2015 Keepsake Ornament Western Tanager

Western Tanager

11th in the Beauty of Birds series

Growing up in southern New Jersey on a migratory bird route, Edythe Kegrize saw all kinds of species common to East Coast habitats. When she first started designing Keepsake Ornaments, she focused mainly on birds like the oriole, blue jay and cardinal.

“I’ve mostly done East Coast birds because I’m more familiar with them,” Edythe said. “But I started feeling like I should branch out a little more, so to speak.”

She generally gravitates toward birds with a strong color combination. “I’ve done some that are more subtle,” Edythe said. “But generally I go for the ones that really have that strength of color.”

That led to this year’s Western tanager. She described the paint on the ornament as “opulent.” The design features the distinctive blaze of white on the wing, but the look is stylized. “I try to be true to the broader markings on the bird, but it’s treated in a more idealized way.”

2015 Keepsake Ornament Anniversary Doves

2015 Anniversary Doves

After 25 years of illustrating cards, Edythe knew her way around popular themes and icons. For anniversary cards, Edythe drew a lot of doves, which are known to mate for life. “So it was only natural for me to interpret that into three dimensions,” Edythe said.

As with many of her pieces, the decorative touches on this piece have an idealized quality, like the silver flourishes on the wings and tail. Usually, she works by drawing as many sides of the ornament as it takes to convey shape and style so it can be sculpted by others. For something as intricate and interlocked as this, she wanted to handle the rough sculpt herself so she would know exactly how the form would translate into the final design, as well as where the center of gravity would be so it would hang just right.

“When drawing something, you can’t always get a feel for that,” Edythe said. “Sometimes you just have to hold it in your hands.”

The porcelain doves come with interchangeable heart charms featuring milestone years as well as a blank one to add a specific year.

Ruby Red Cardinal

The first Beauty of Birds ornament Edythe created was a cardinal. This premium Ruby Red Cardinal is an intentional nod to that first bird, although the wings are more unfurled and “he’s a little more gussied up,” Edythe said.

The look was inspired by the timeless technique of cloisonné, in which fine golden lines give shape to colored enamel, adding detail and contrast.

“The finish on it has a great luster,” Edythe said. “It has a shimmery quality to it.” The elegant metal design’s resemblance to jewelry reminds Edythe of her great-grandmother, who loved fancy Christmas pins.

In fact, it was her great-grandmother who helped her develop her love of birds. To get Edythe out of the kitchen, she’d give Edythe a plate of crumbs to throw out for the seagulls. Then Edythe would sit at the window and watch the flurry arrive. So when Edythe came to Keepsakes years later, the first series she proposed featured birds.

“All my life, birds have been something I’ve collected for my own Christmas tree,” Edythe said. “So it was just easy for me to think in those ways.”

Find Keepsake Ornaments at your local Hallmark Gold Crown store.


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