Christmas Ornaments from the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum Store

By Rebecca Petrie, Retail Manager, Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum

seminolka-with-glittered-beads-and-2

IT seems that everyone likes Christmas ornaments and visitors especially like to take home a bit of their vacation to be appreciated over the holidays.  With that in mind in the fall of 2011 the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum Store decided to create a Seminole patchwork inspired Christmas ornament.  Although this seemed like a simple task it  wasn’t.  We discovered that although there are companies who can print on round ornaments, most could only do a patch, not what we wanted- a band of patchwork design circling the glass ball.  Finally we found The Stocking Factory in of all place the Florida Keys.  Known for their personalized Christmas stockings and ornaments, they could also do printing all around an ornament.

the-2011-ornament 2011

Our first attempt was a huge success incorporating three types of patchwork: Man on a Horse, Fire and Crawdad.  Over the next few years everything went smoothly, and then we decided to hold a contest to pick the 2014 patchwork pattern.  We didn’t verify the patterns before holding the contest and it turned out that the winning design couldn’t be done as we had in the past.  The design wouldn’t line up or was “out of register” (the same thing that happens when a newspaper prints in color and the various images aren’t precisely on top of each other).  As always the folks at The Stocking Factory came through.  They provided the ornament with the design (but no glitter) and we bribed (with donuts) the Museum staff to help hand glitter 600 plus ornaments.  Another success was achieved.

 

We have often been asked why we don’t do more elaborate styles of patchwork.  The answer is in the printing.  With the surround printing process we are only able to print two colors, one being glitter, so the ornament’s color becomes a part of the design element.  We are limited, but the results haven’t been; every year the ornaments have been beautiful.  This year’s ornament is no exception.  If history is any indicator, it will sell out by the end of the year!

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2016

 

WITH the success of the Seminole patchwork inspired ornaments we thought to go BIG as in an ornament inspired by the iconic Seminole doll.   We talked to several companies that could do custom mouth blown “old world” ornaments.  Mia Kaplan’s Mia’s Polish Treasures was chosen as their design was a full-sized, detailed Seminole doll.

The ornament itself was designed in a months-long process throughout 2013.  Images flew back and forth over the internet between the Museum, Mia’s office in New York City and Poland where the ornaments are actually manufactured.  The metal mold, unique to the medium of glass, was made from an original clay sculpture which represented a Seminole palmetto fiber doll.  With the design and the mold completed the intensive work of creating these works of art began.

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What’s with this hair style???  Wrong, Wrong, WRONG!

 

final-version-1
THIS is much better!

The first step in a process that takes weeks to complete is to mold glass into the correct shape.  To that end a glass tube is heated repeatedly until the correct temperature is reached, it is then inserted into the two piece mold.  The artisan blows a puff of air through the cool end of the tube inflating the glass into the shape of the mold.  The mold is then opened and the raw ornament is removed and set aside to fully harden and cool.  The next step is to pour a milky white liquid into the hollow ornament, the liquid is swirled to coat the interior and the ornament is then dipped in a bath of warm soapy water.  Magic happens when the ornament is removed from the bath- the milky liquid has turned the interior chrome silver.  Another drying period is needed before the painting can begin.  Each ornament is hand painted in the approved design with more drying time as each color is allowed to dry.  Once our doll is fully painted the final step is apply the glitter.  Once again each color is added layer by layer with drying time between each coating.  When looking at these ornaments it is easy to appreciate the many, many hours of hand work that goes into each one and to grasp the fact that at any point in the process the delicate ornament could be shattered!

                 2016

This year we will offer two options, the first was inspired by a cape and skirt in the Museum’s collection (accession #2007.9.71) in a limited edition of 250.  This version is beautifully dressed in garnet, gold, black and cream- familiar colors of a certain state university- and decorated with the famous Man on a Horse patchwork pattern.  Our second option is limited to 200 and features a more fancifully colored outfit of turquoise and bold pink with a combination of Telephone Pole and Crawdad patchwork patterns.  Either, or both, will look striking on a Christmas tree or hung on display year round.  If past year’s sales are any indication customers will need to order this family heirloom today as they may well be sold out tomorrow and once gone they are gone for good.

Once the ornaments are in the Store they will also be available online at http://www.seminole-store.com/.

Honoring Alice Snow

By Megan Smith

Lake Tupke
Lake Tupke

Nestled between an exotic Caribbean garden and the colorful native Florida plant life at the Naples Botanical Garden is Lake Tupke, a charming man-made lake that has been named after the Seminole Medicine Carrier, Alice Snow. The lake, a year in the making, was a restoration of the native Florida Everglades environment which had become overgrown with invasive plant life.  The lake was officially opened last November 15 with a naming ceremony attended by Tribal members and other dignitaries. The chirping of native birds that have made their way back to the garden, the bubbling of fountains, and quiet cobblestone walkways filled with mosaics make this quaint garden the perfect place to honor such an inspiring Seminole tribal member.

Plants in the garden
Plants in the garden

Alice Snow was born in 1922, on the outskirts of Lake Okeechobee, where she grew up living in a village beneath the palmetto frond roof of a chickee. In her later years, she lived on the Brighton Reservation where she shared her knowledge as an herbalist by teaching her children and others about medicinal plants.

Alice Snow
Alice Snow

Spanning a generation of great social transition that included her move from her village to the reservation, Alice Snow witnessed many changes in Seminole life and tradition. She hoped that sharing her knowledge of healing plants would bring both traditional Seminole roots and the modern world together. She wrote and did research for a book entitled “Healing Plants: Medicine of the Florida Seminole Indians” alongside Susan Enns Stans that covers the uses and traditions of medicinal plants found in the Everglades. She also shared some of her knowledge with visitors, volunteers, and staff at the Naples Botanical Garden, inspiring the dedication in her honor.

Alice Snow with her twins
Alice Snow with her twins

The resilience of the Seminole people is shown clearly in Alice Snow’s work with medicinal plants as she shared her knowledge and gift with others. Much like Alice Snow, preserving and protecting Seminole culture and history is one of the primary efforts of the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum where people from all around the world travel to learn about the livelihood and deep history of the tribe. Future garden-goers may stumble upon Lake Tupke, curious as to whom the Seminoles are, hopefully choosing to satisfy their curiosity and visit our museum to learn more. There is no better way to honor Alice Snow’s memory than to share both her work as a Medicine Carrier and the rich culture of the Seminoles with the Naples Botanical Garden and their visitors.

If you are in the Naples area and feel the need for a calming respite, come in and stroll the shores of Lake Tupke at the Naples Botanical Garden!