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Ruth Azawa – Artist, Sculptor, & Inspiration

Ruth Azawa posing next to her creations

Ruth Azawa, an American artist, died on August 6, 2013. She was a woman who devoted her life to art and became very well known for her sculptures in wire and her public commissions, especially her fountains which are found all over the San Francisco Bay Area.  There is one in Santa Rosa in our town center depicting scenes from Santa Rosa, the surrounding wine country, and our local history.

Ruth Azawa’s Artistic Legacy – Left Behind for the World

Ms. Azawa was, unknowingly, an inspiring force in the development of our products for Calliope Designs.

She had completed her famous fountain sculpture of the streets of San Francisco which is located near Union Square at the side of the Hyatt Hotel.  It’s quite large, and shows all kinds of fun scenes – the Hills of San Francisco, the famous Winding Way of Lombard Street, the Palace Hotel, Legion of Honor, riding the cable car, and the Cliff House at the Beach are just a few of the many to find.  Tourists from all over the world come to see and photograph the fountain and enjoy its whimsicality.

I believe the fountain is made of cast metal which had been poured into a mold of the scenes just mentioned.  Then the pieces were put together to form the fountain. But the interesting thing to us was that the mold itself and everything and everyone on it was originally made of  “baker’s clay” or “bread dough”.  And following the installation of the fountain, a popular Home and Garden magazine, Sunset Magazine, did an article on Ruth making the fountain and using “baker’s clay” and then she gave her recipe for the clay/dough and showed how she made some of the figurines.

It was this article that inspired our friends, John, and Kathleen Holmes, to have a fun party at their home to make our own “sculptures”  – and since it was close to Christmas, we later thought of this as a way to make Christmas gifts!  The night we had the sculpture party was quite fun – half of the people there were artists, but even the less artistically gifted guests, such as myself, were able to form figures and create some pretty fun little items.

That year we made so many of these little figurines and gave them away at Christmas time. With the positive response, we received from family and friends we were encouraged the following year to join the Great Dickens Faire of San Francisco to sell the wares from a tiny cart. The Dickens Fair is still going on, 44 years later, and we’ve been to every single one. As well as having a business that sold to gift shops and department stores all over the world!

Still Remembered in Santa Rosa

Twenty years later the City of Santa Rosa commissioned Ruth Azawa to create a fountain for our downtown city center plaza.  She accepted saying she would like to have the children of Santa Rosa participate in making the baker’s clay figurines to be used in the fountain’s design.  For several months it was our delight to give boxes and boxes of our colored dough to the local schools that had been selected to participate.  We worked with the teachers giving tips and techniques so that the kids could have some practice in using the materials.  When Ms. Azawa came to Santa Rosa she had many willing and excited school children to help with her project.

The fountain is an integral part of our City and it’s lovely center plaza, and we are proud to have been an influence on her project.

Celebrate Art with Calliope Designs Custom Ornaments

Celebrate art and local artists in Sonoma County with a personalized ornament from Calliope Designs. View all our amazing and diverse designs on our online shop today!

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Calliope Designs: Part of Our Community for 40 Years

hands held high for community team spirit

Over the years Calliope Designs has had the opportunity to give back to our community in Santa Rosa, California and throughout Sonoma County. When a business becomes involved with the giving of time, products, or money it enlivens the spirit of the employees of the business as well and gives them the feeling of generosity and contribution.

Doing Our Part for the Community

For many holidays our employees conducted a food drive to create some lovely holiday dinners for our local women’s shelters. Most of our employees were women and most of them had families. They filled the baskets with pumpkin for pies, loaves of bread for turkey stuffing, cranberry sauce and applesauce, canned yams, and canned peas and other products too.  We always added a turkey at the end! This gift from each one of them became a beautiful tradition.  Calliope Designs accompanied the baskets of ingredients for a special meal with dozens of our handcrafted dough ornaments and sent special instructions and pens with each basket so the ornaments could be personalized for the children in the shelters.  Our employees were proud of their work and proud that their beautiful creations that were donated at Christmas time to someone less fortunate.

As a company, we became known as a destination tour for girl scout and boy scout troops, classrooms, art schools, and nursery schools throughout Sonoma County as well.  We often had two or three tours a week, especially during the Autumn and pre Thanksgiving. Groups would come to our business building and be carefully led through the “factory” where the dough was mixed in many colors. The children were each given a piece of dough to carry around and squeeze and roll!  They loved the tactile soft feel of the salt and flour dough.  Then they were taken to the tables were our talented employees formed the ornaments.  The kids were fascinated with the process and quietly watched as Santas, Snowmen, Penguins, and Teddy Bears were hand pieced into adorable ornaments.  After they were made the children loved seeing trays of ornaments placed in the huge pizza ovens we had which held over 2000 ornaments – a day’s production.

We toured the shipping department where ornaments were carefully packed for shipment to gift shops and department stores.  The children really loved our pellet dispenser which hung from the ceiling…. because we called it Big Bird!  They enjoyed seeing the boxes piled up at the back door, waiting for UPS to come and pick them up and send them on their way.

And the end of the tour there was always a box of bags of different colored “bread” dough for the teacher or troop leader to take back to class.  We imagined a wonderful art session the next day where everyone got to make a creation of their choice.

Continued Support & Giving

As the years went on the word went out to the teachers of Sonoma County that our company was happy to donate our leftover colored clay to schools for art projects.  We always made fresh dough every single day.  It kept the colors vibrant and kept yeast from developing in the flour causing distortions in baking the ornaments.  We had so many teachers calling to pick up leftover “dough” that we had to make a schedule.  It was really fun to make this contribution, and we still get calls from teachers asking for dough – unfortunately, we now make the ornaments from polymer clay!  But we pass out the recipe when anyone asks.

Support Your Community with Calliope Designs

Every Calliope Design ornament is handmade and personalized to be as unique as every member of your community. Celebrate diversity with a personalized ornament from Calliope Designs. View all our amazing and diverse designs on our online shop today!

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Today’s a Good Day to Shop for Custome Ornaments From Calliope Designs!

Cheerleader: Black Uniform, Personalized christmas Ornament

Why You Should Shop Custom Ornaments Today!

Today is  Sunday, October 6th, 2013, and it’s a good day to shop for your family’s personalized ornaments for the upcoming holiday season!  I’ve just been informed by the men in my family that there are 14 hours of televised professional football today.  And while there are probably lots of fun things the non-football viewing population can do other than shop, we at Calliope Designs notice that when the big football games come on TV the orders start coming in on our website. Maybe football means Fall and the holidays approaching.  Maybe it’s just having some free time.

I hesitate to make a general statement that’s gender-oriented – there are many women who love football and the games and parties!  And there are many men who like to shop for personalized ornaments!  Whoever sends in the orders is enjoying a nice relaxing session of online shopping, choosing just the perfect ornament for each family member, personalizing it with care, and getting absolutely the best selection available before the rush of the holiday season.  All of our new products are entered and pictured.

If you’re not ready to shop for Christmas perhaps you’d enjoy a project of making some ornaments with your kids.  Be sure and search our blog for How To Make Your Own Dough Ornaments at Home post.  What a fun project, inexpensive materials, great results…. and not too messy in the kitchen.  This means everyone’s having fun doing something they love on this Sunday afternoon.

Handmade Custom Creations for a Great Cause from Calliope Designs

It’s a drop dead gorgeous day in California and I plan to attend the Calabash Festival in Forestville CA.  It’s a benefit for Face to Face, a food resource for HIV/AIDS patients in the county.  Over 100 artists have created beautiful items from gourds of all shapes and sizes.  Some are painted.  Some are carved.  Some are created into toys, others into beautiful decorative pieces.  There is jewelry and there are hats.  It’s amazing and fun and fanciful… and for a good cause.  So I’ll miss the football games today.

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April’s Special Sugar Cookie Recipe

mint candies

I love your ornaments, I buy at least one every year! Last year we moved early December from Turkey to Texas (we are military) and we did not receive our household goods until new year’s eve. So the only ornament we had on our little substitute tree last year was the one I bought from your company! Here is the recipe for the sugar cookies and my mom’s famous Christmas candies!

April’s Special Sugar Cookie and Candy Recipes

April sends her favorite Sugar Cookie recipe to go with her guest blog post:

Mix:    Mix separately:

in one bowl:
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt

3 1/2 cups flour

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in 2nd bowl:

1 cup butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

½ tsp vanilla

Mix both sets of ingredients together.
Refrigerate overnight
After cutting your shapes, bake at 400° for 6 to 8 minutes

Frosting:
1 ½ sticks Crisco
2 lbs powdered sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 Tbsp butter flavoring
Add warm water until you reach your desired consistency.

April’s Mom’s Favorite Christmas Candy recipes!

Christmas Candies

Chocolate Covered Peanuts:
Melt 1lb chocolate and mix with 1 bag Spanish peanuts. Drop into ¾” candy cups.

Peanut Butter Bites:
Melt 1lb peanut butter chocolate and mix with 1 cup crunchy peanut butter. Drop into ¾” candy cups.

Mint Candies:
Melt 1lb white chocolate and mix with 1 bag peppermint stick. Drop into ¾” candy cups.

Grow your Holiday Traditions with Custom Gifts from Calliope Designs

Celebrate any occasion with a personalized ornament from Calliope Designs. View all our amazing and diverse designs on our online shop today!

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Best Rolled Sugar Cookie Recipe

sugar rolled cookies

Jill Saunders posts a sugar cookie recipe on Allrecipes.com.  She recommends handing out the recipe with your gift of cookies because you’ll be asked for it!  It must be really good and it’s sure to be tried at our home soon.  We wanted to post a good recipe to go with April Bruinekool’s guest blog post.

Rolled Sugar Cookie Recipe Perfect for a Family Project

Original recipe makes 5 dozen, Change Servings:

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
  3. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in the preheated oven. Cool completely.

Grow your Holiday Traditions with Custom Gifts from Calliope Designs

Celebrate any occasion with a personalized ornament from Calliope Designs. View all our amazing and diverse designs on our online shop today!

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Christmas Craft Memories Guest Blog Post by April!

mom with girl baking cookies

My daughter is a year and a half old. I am so excited to be able to begin doing crafty things with her like my siblings and I used to do with my mom!

Holiday Baking with my Daughter

For Halloween, our major project was our pumpkins. We wouldn’t carve them, we use to paint them. Painting them gave us so much more freedom in choosing our designs, and the pumpkins lasted longer. For Thanksgiving, we would make turkeys from our handprints. Christmas was always my favorite. We would make different ornaments. We made snowmen with popsicle sticks, reindeer with clothespins, and we would buy plain white globes to paint. As much fun as all that was, my favorite activity for all three holidays is making sugar cookies. Preparing the dough, cutting the shapes, and then decorating them with all the different colors of icing.

Thank you to guest blogger April Bruinekool.

Grow your Holiday Traditions with Custom Gifts from Calliope Designs

Celebrate any occasion with a personalized ornament from Calliope Designs. View all our amazing and diverse designs on our online shop today!

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New DIY Ornament Styles

Calliope Designs Introduces New Personalized Ornament Styles for Christmas 2007

Calliope Designs is proud to announce the addition of dozens of new styles of personalized ornaments to their website, at https://www.calliopedesigns.com, for Christmas 2007

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Santa Rosa, California (PRWEB) October 30, 2007

Santa Rosa, California based personalized ornament maker, Calliope Designs, is excited to announce the addition of several new styles for their Christmas 2007 holiday season. Styles including patriotic angel ornaments, new styles of sporting theme ornaments and a new customizable “Family Tree” ornament are all available now on the web at https://www.calliopedesigns.com.

“We are so excited to launch these new designs,” said Stephanie Eddy, Co-Owner and President of Calliope Designs. “The new customizable family tree ornament is so cute and it means a lot to us because it’s truly a family design. My son, Will, came up with the concept and my husband, Dorr Eddy, our lead designer implemented the concept and now it’s up on the site and we think it’s going to be very popular this year!”

The ornament, which is in the shape of a Christmas Tree, can be entirely customized to your family. If you have two dogs, two cats, and two children, you can represent each one to make this personalized ornament truly unique. They are also designed to be a holiday gift, sure to please any friend, family member or host or hostess with space for a personalized holiday message as well.

“As our business has evolved and grown over the past 30 years, it’s become very clear that the personal nature of our ornaments is what makes them so special,” explained Eddy. “People want the opportunity to have their Christmas tree represent their family and their traditions and memories. So we have worked hard to create a great selection of personalized holiday ornaments that represent every family out there, no matter its shape or size. This new ornament is another great step in that direction!”

Calliope Designs has added over 90 new and updated designs to their website for this holiday season. Consumers will find options for everyone on their Christmas list from ornaments for sports enthusiasts, travelers, pet lovers, newly engaged couples, expectant and new parents and many more – including Spanish language ornaments. Every ornament is personal, beautifully designed and offered at a great value.

“We have great hopes for the Christmas 2007 season,” said Eddy. “The economy is tough, and a personalized Christmas ornament is really a great gift that is from the heart and that won’t kill the budget. We’re excited to see how our customers respond to the new designs and we look forward to providing another wonderful year of Christmas memories!”

ABOUT CALLIOPE DESIGNS

When Dorr and Stephanie Eddy began making bread dough ornaments in their kitchen in 1972 they had no idea how popular their handmade Christmas tree decorations would become. Today, after more than 35 years of distributing their Christmas tree ornaments through fine retailers and major department stores nationwide, their whimsical little clay dough ornaments are treasured by children and grownups all over the world.

Each Calliope dough and the claydough ornament is an original creation designed by Dorr Eddy. The unique character of each personalized Christmas ornament adds to the style of a completely handmade product. The bright colors and high gloss coating add to the ornament’s attractiveness and durability. The special techniques and the tools we have created greatly enhance our consistent quality.

Every design can be personalized to order creating a unique and treasured gift.

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