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art scENE


Precious Moments, Inc. (PMI), the

internationally-known collectible company, recently announced its acquisition of Prizm, Inc. Prizm had been the maker and distribu- tor of the award-winning Pipka Collection since its first set of limited-edition figurines in 1995. It’s the first time that PMI has expanded its brand beyond the art of Sam Butcher.

Don Butcher, president of PMI and the

son of Sam Butcher, expressed excitement in adding Pipka’s art to their family of gifts and collectibles and said that the partnership was a way for the brand to be “an umbrella for artists whose works complement the Precious Moments traditions and values.”

Gaylord Ho, the sculptor who has been

(Opposite page) The 1995 “Star Catcher Santa,” one of Pipka’s first figurines, enters the Black Forest on Christmas Eve to gather the stars that have fallen out of the midnight sky. Guided by his lantern, he makes his way from one village to another delivering stars of light to every family to crown their Christ- mas tree. (Above) Pipka Ulvilden got her start with Santa figurines when she painted an Old World Santa on a wood cutout as a gift for her mother in 1981. The “Night Journey Santa,” pictured above, is from the Memories of Christmas line, released in 2009. Photography courtesy of Ping Photography.

ditions. I wanted to present something other than the ‘Coca-Cola’ Santa we al- ways see in America, so I started creating more of them.”

By 1995 she had teamed up with

Michele Johnson and Gary Meidinger to form Prizm, Inc., a gift company, through which she introduced her de- signs as limited-edition collectible figu- rines. Sixteen years later her Santa, Ma- donna, and Angel figurines are featured in over 900 stores around the country.

Creating Santa Te creative process for just one Santa

can take anywhere from 12 to 15 months to complete, and since Pipka debuts a number of new pieces each year, it adds up to a lot of time in her Sister Bay stu- dio. Once Pipka gets an idea for a Santa design, she’ll spend hours researching that particular Santa’s heritage. After that, she’ll paint the main design. Tis includes painting separate views of each Santa, with major attention to detail.

“Tis way, Gaylord can see exactly what I’m envisioning,” Pipka says. Tat’s

Gaylord Ho, who makes his home in Tai- wan and has been the sculptor of Pipka’s creations since her first collection.

When Ho receives Pipka’s original

art, he sculpts a clay model in the ex- act size of the figurine. He sends images from every possible angle to Pipka so she can make corrections as necessary. Once the sculpture is approved, Ho makes a cast from the clay sculpture, paints it, and ships it back to Pipka for her to inspect. If all looks good, the process of producing the figurines begins, with a marble resin poured into the molds. Each figurine is then hand painted and hand numbered. Once the run has been produced for a figurine, the mold is bro- ken and the piece is retired, making the pieces valuable as soon as they’re sold.

Pipka’s Santas represent the majority

of her artistic career, but she continues to evolve as an artist. She recently began experimenting with collage work and something clicked.

“I started reading all of these scrap- booking magazines and was enthralled

interpreting Pipka’s art since her first collec- tion in 1995, has also partnered with PMI.

Pipka’s first collection with Precious Mo- ments will debut in January 2012.

with how using all of these bits of ephemera could create these magical stories,” she says.

Pipka’s collage work consists of shad-

ow boxes, canvases, and even jewelry – an art form that piqued her interest when her friend Angie Dowland owned Te Perfect Beads in Ephraim. “I walked in there and fell in love with all of the components,” she says. “I found that putting things together on a string tells a story as well.”

Tese are stories that Pipka is happy

to tell. “I’m honestly lucky to have the op-

portunities that I do,” she says. “I get to create on a daily basis. I get to see friends come into my shop every day. I get to do what I love, and nothing is more thrill- ing than that.”


ADDRESS: 2340 Mill Road, Sister Bay PHONE: (800) 829-9235 WEBSITE:

Winter 2011/2012 Door County Living 19

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