Wendy Addison, Artist/Designer
In my last post, I touched on one of our favorite holiday traditions: Visiting the Port Costa, California studio of uber-talented artist, Wendy Addison. I'd like to tell you more about this tradition and how it all began - which involved a dash of serendipity, a smidgen of misunderstanding, and a good dose of generosity.
For those of you unfamiliar with Wendy Addison let me give you a little glimpse into the accomplishments of this Goddess of Glitter, this Empress of Ephemera, and Queen of All Things Artful.
One of Wendy's trademark German glass glitter stars
Wendy, originally from St. Louis, came to the Bay Area over 20 years ago. Her one-of-a-kind art pieces and vintage inspired paper and glass glitter crafts have been featured in a number of national magazines such as Country Living, and the premiere issue of Where Women Cook (on newsstands now).
Glittery Reindeer Ornament, by Wendy Addison (Mr.Snail in corner, too!)
Ms. Addison's artwork and studio have made their way into books including Where Women Create, and Family Spaces, just to name a couple. This talented designer has made multiple appearances on The Martha Stewart Show.
Window Dressing, Port Costa
Wendy has had her own line of ornaments and decorative home items - whimsies, if you will - with Seasons of Cannon Falls and now, Tinsel Trading Company, the Manhattan-based mecca for the most deliriously decadent trim, ribbon and embellishments.
Open Me Ornament, letterpress printed at Theatre of Dreams Workshop
Wendy has written a self-published book called, "Theatre of Dreams" (when I say self-published I mean she did it all: everything from hand-sketching the illustrations, to hand-printing pages on her vintage printing press, to writing the story, to hand-binding it all together - is there anything this woman can not do?).
Wendy is probably best known for introducing America to the world of German glass glitter stars, letters and chandeliers. Wendy is a highly sought-after instructor, teaching across the country - and at a chateau in France each summer! Lucky girl!
A Waterview of Port Costa
We are fortunate that Wendy makes her home and bases her studio here in our neck of the woods (as the crow flies, only a couple of miles from our home), in the miniscule time-warped town of Port Costa, on the shores of the Carquinez Straits. Her studio, also known as Theatre of Dreams, transports you to another time and place.
Wendy's esthetic is decidely Victorian, looking to the past with just the right amount of whimsy, and a touch of the magical added for good measure - everything she touches is exquisite! My daughters and I look forward to the Theatre of Dreams Holiday Open House every year, when Wendy opens the doors to her private world of imagination.
Our first trip to Theatre of Dreams was six years ago. Caroline was then eight years old, Clare only six. Upon entering her studio, the girl's mouths dropped open in wonder, and I knew this was a place we'd be visiting every year from then on.
Wendy greeted my girls like long-lost friends; showing them the workings of her miniature mechanical theatre, and giving them a personal tour of her studio stocked full of her latest holiday creations. She could not have been more kind to them!
Our offering to the Goddess of Glitter for 2010
After a few minutes, Wendy excused herself. I understood completely, we'd taken enough of this busy woman's time. Surely, she has a million other things to do besides chat with us! I wrote a check for the beautiful ornaments we'd picked out and we left. I remember thinking how great it was that an artist of her caliber would take time with the future generation - proving once- and-for-all that you can be both highly successful and incredibly kind!
About a week later the girls received a package, return address Theatre of Dreams! What could it be? Caroline and Clare opened the surprise package to discover a cache of treasure which Wendy herself uses to create her amazing designs: german glass glitter, fancy metallic trims, dresden stars, miniature wired berries. All the things childhood dreams are made of - and perhaps some adult dreams too!
Apparently, we had misunderstood when Wendy excused herself. She wasn't leaving for good, just long enough to pop over to her workshop to put together a dream care-package for the girls! When she returned to find us gone, she got our address from the check and sent my girls this most amazing of gifts: The gift of creativity.
Spoonful of Treasure, 2008
To say thank you, we included Wendy on our list of family and friends for which we make Christmas ornaments every year. This tradition goes back to when Hilary and Cori (my two eldest daughters) were just little bits of girls and it has continued for over 20 years. Occasionally all four of my girls helped, sometimes just Caroline and Clare, sometimes friends join in, sometimes I finish them all by myself, but we never fail to make our signature ornaments to give as a token of our love and appreciation each holiday season.
Joyeux Noel Ornament, by Clare, 2010
We took Wendy an ornament that year and every year since. The annual visit to Theatre of Dreams has expanded to include Caroline and Clare's friends, Isabelle and Sophia. On one visit, Wendy led us to her private workshop which houses her vintage letterpress, allowing each girl to print her very own holiday tag! We hang them on our feather tree like any other heirloom ornament in our collection.
Winter Wishes Ornament, by Isabelle, 2010
It is also part of our tradition to take photos while out-and-about in Port Costa - poor, sleepy Port Costa probably doesn't know what hit 'em! There's lots of giggling and even a bit of disagreeing about where to take the best shots (by my girls, not Is and Soph!). Sometimes it seems cat wrangling would be easier! But we always come away with memorable photos and Port Costa eventually recovers from the mayhem - I hope, anyway!
This year was unusual in that Wendy was away on business in New York, leaving her lovely, capable daughter, Monica to mind the store. Monica is clearly a chip off the old block, and though we missed spending time with Wendy, Monica did a terrific job of making us welcome. And afterall, Wendy was everywhere. In every nook and cranny of her studio. No doubt about it, Wendy was there in spirit, exhibited in her holiday creations for 2010, which were amazing!
I have no doubt that when Caroline and Clare look back on their childhood, the trips to Wendy Addison's Theatre of Dreams will be a highlight. Not only because of the magical talent in evidence there, but because one woman took time to make two little girls feel special. The ultimate gift.
"I sell the shadow to support the substance"
Sojourner Truth (A favorite quote of Wendy Addison's)
Please note, Sophia's Snowman With Christmas Trees Ornament is featured in my banner.