Tammy HaddixShop Now
Title: Hallmark Senior Artist
Date started at Hallmark: 1988
Date started at Keepsakes: 1996
Hometown: Kansas City, Missouri
Tammy Haddix has been drawing for as long as she can remember. Her mother was the first to discover Tammy’s talent at an early age. Unfortunately, her mom found it on countertops and in closets. The kitchen projects were washed away, but the closet creations were another story. Her mom, an artist herself, loved them so much that the artwork stayed up for decades.
It didn’t take long for little Tammy to decide on her career goals. When she was 5 years old, her mother took her along to a Hallmark store. Tammy was so impressed by all the beautiful artwork that she declared her intention to work for Hallmark right then and there.
Tammy inherited her artistic abilities from her mom. After Tammy’s colleagues saw her mother’s intricate cake-decorating talents, the Keepsake Studio Artists decided to use the designs in the 2005 Spring Keepsake Ornaments.
Tammy joined the Illustration Studio, and that’s when her interest in sculpting began. In addition to her regular drawing assignments, Tammy did freelance work for Keepsake Ornaments, which eventually won her a spot on the Keepsakes staff. Her work can still be found in closets, but only because they’re in storage until next Christmas.
9th in the Making Memories series
Why do so many of Tammy Haddix’s creations look like they came from Santa’s bakery? It’s because artistic sweetness runs in her family.
“My mom is a cake decorator and has been for a very long time,” Tammy says. “My sister and brother are cake decorators, too. They were always helping and learning from her.”
Every Christmas Tammy’s family made gingerbread houses together, a tradition she continued with her own kids. It’s no surprise she was able to capture those memorable parent-child moments in this adorable ornament.
“I like to show the things you like to do with your kids at Christmas. That way people can really relate to it when they see it,” Tammy says. “I really tried to focus on the interaction, capturing the moment when that memory is being made.”
In this scene, the younger character appears to be sneaking one of the candies from the roof of the gingerbread house, which makes both characters smile. That was a frequent occurrence in her household.
“It was always more fun for them to eat the candy than decorate,” Tammy says.
The recurring snowflake icon from the series appears as a floor tile underneath the characters. “One year I cupped it and made it into a sled,” Tammy says. “Last year, they were ice skating, so I made it look like ice.”
The aprons feature real hand-tied bows on the back, and the characters are covered in glitter, one of Tammy’s favorite things to add: “It just makes it more magical!”
Santa’s Sweet Ride
10th and Final in the series
Nine years into the Santa’s Sweet Ride series, Tammy realized she’d used a lot of cool vehicles but never a sleigh. This year, the choice was easy.
“Let’s do a sleigh and a reindeer to go with it,” Tammy thought. “So he’s kind of riding off into the sunset.”
Tammy always starts with a sketch. After that, she roughs out the design in jeweler’s wax, carves the ornament and molds it in resin. Then she hand-paints the mold, which always makes her feel a bit like an elf in Santa’s workshop.
“That last part is really fun,” Tammy says. “That’s when it really comes to life.”
Tammy also spends quite a bit of time researching different kinds of sweets to make sure they look authentic. The sleigh appears to be made out of iced gingerbread. The presents in the back are sugar cubes covered with icing ribbon. Santa’s hat looks like the tip of a pastry piping bag, an element that appears on every ornament in this series.
And even though it’s the last one in this particular series, watch for a fun new twist on Santa’s Sweet Ride—a brand-new magic ornament—coming in 2017.
Santa’s Sweet Reindeer
Limited-quantity companion ornament
Who’s coming along for the ride with Santa? A candy reindeer, of course! And this reindeer includes as many candy variations as Tammy could imagine.
He has gumdrop feet, candy-stick legs, a striped-gum saddle, fruit-leather ears, peppermint antlers and icing around the neck and on the tail. The head looks like chocolate and the body appears to be a chocolate cake roll.
Observant Keepsake Ornament fans should be able to spot the candy reindeer somewhere else, too. He also appears as a miniature on a 2016 magic ornament. He’s one of many characters featured in A Sweet Surprise, which plays Christmas music and features a Northern Lights-style display.
2014 Keepsake Ornaments
“This one has Dean Martin singing ‘It’s a Marshmallow World,’ which I’m not sure a lot of people have heard of. It became a favorite of my family’s when my sister, my mom and I were Christmas shopping, and that song was playing. We all fell in love with it. So when I had the opportunity to do this Magic ornament, I thought to do an ornament with a cake design using that song. On the ornament itself, there’s a snowball fight with lights tracing back-and-forth, and there’s a light on top that makes the snowman light up.”
Mommy To Be
“I was sculpting this when my niece, Hannah, was pregnant. So I was thinking of her and what would be cool as a mommy-to-be. Snowmen are already round, and so I decided to have her cradling her belly like many pregnant women do. It kind of coordinates with my Making Memories series. You could place this ornament with the Making Memories’ ornaments if you wanted to.”
“All of these ornaments are inspired by my family. My mom was the cake decorator of the family. She decorated cakes for us using cake pans, and now she does all of these sculpted cakes. Now she and my sister have a cake decorating business together. My family actually competed on the ‘Ultimate Cake Off’ on TLC…twice.
(When creating these ornaments), my sculpting abilities came in handy. I just had to adjust to using icing and fondant. I didn’t let the other team know they were up against a professional.”