Tammy Haddix

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Keepsake Artist Tammy Haddix

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Tammy Haddix

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.

A World Within

3rd in the series

Tammy Haddix has many fond memories of visiting her grandma’s house in Oklahoma City. One of her favorite things? A vintage Christmas ornament collection.

“She had these simple yet beautiful glass ornaments,” Tammy says. “I have a few of them that were rescued from her home.” The ornaments were saved after a tornado destroyed the house but spared her grandma, Tropha, and her Aunt Joyce, as well their collies. They had taken shelter in the bathtub. Somehow the bathroom was the only room in the house that wasn’t damaged!

Tammy created the A World Within miniature ornament series in honor of Tropha, who passed away several years ago. “I try to think about what she might like when I create concepts for this series,” Tammy says. “It’s very meaningful to have some of those ornaments as a remembrance of her.”

Before she starts sketching, Tammy imagines all the shapes and the right amount of space they may need to have a scene carved into them, especially considering the ornament is only about an inch tall.

“I love creating little worlds like this,” Tammy says. “I love terrariums and things like that—any scene you can create that draws the viewer into it.”

For this year’s ornament, she picked a natural pairing: a pinecone and cardinal. The cardinal sits on a branch and is attached to the back of the silvery inside with a tiny peg. She added texture as a nod to her grandma’s ornaments. And she extended the branch needles a little beyond the edge of the pinecone to give it a little more depth.

Then she added glitter because, well, “It’s just one of my favorite things to do.”

Wee Little Gnome

Remember the book Gnomes from the late 1970s? It’s one of Tammy’s all-time favorites.

Originally published in Dutch in 1976 before appearing in English about a year later, the book treated gnomes as real creatures. Author Wil Huygen and illustrator Rien Poortvliet described their habits and habitats in encyclopedic, almost biological, terms. Tammy remembers disappearing into those pages for hours.

“I’ve loved them since I was child,” Tammy says. “Gnomes are my thing!” She even has a little gnome garden in her regular garden at home.

This miniature ornament was designed as a companion piece of sorts to the A Home for a Gnome 2014 ornament that featured a mushroom-shaped gnome house under a plastic dome. She wanted to give him a slightly different look than a lot of the gnomes that exist in popular culture, who tend to appear bemused or even a bit scary.

“They’re supposed to be these ornery characters, but mine are not,” Tammy says. “I just wanted him to be really friendly and sweet looking.” She’s also fond of the red and white amanita mushrooms, like the one he’s holding.

“They’re really cool and pretty, like they’re from a fairy tale,” Tammy says. “But they’re poisonous, so don’t eat one if you see one!”

Li’l Holy Family

The look for this miniature nativity scene was inspired by the stylings of Mary Hamilton, a Hallmark artist for 60 years who passed away this January. Tammy did the sketch and Keepsake Artist Katrina Bricker did the sculpting.

“I really wanted this to be a sweet and endearing scene,” Tammy says, “with them gazing down at baby Jesus.”

The manger and baby were sculpted separately from Mary and Joseph. The halos were also sculpted as individual pieces and then attached with tiny pegs, which can be very hard to do when they’re that small. Tammy says, “Sculpting miniatures can be a real challenge. And it gets harder, as I get older, just to see them!”

Joseph’s staff is painted wire. The hair features pearlescent paint. “We just wanted to give them a little glow,” Tammy says. “A nice little religious glow.”

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