Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Christmases Past

Creating our Christmas windows has always been a fun part of the holidays, and we are just about finished with the building and installation of our 2017 holiday windows.  They should be done and posted a little later today.  Never let it be said that we rush Christmas!  In the meantime, here are some images of Christmases past at Michael Thomas.    


 2008 was our first Christmas in Port Hope, and the idea was pretty simple- a tranquil winter scene with a forest of birch trees.  The tricky part of this installation was hanging all of the trees.

2009 was one of my favorite windows and also one of the most complicated.  It was the window of an Art Deco department store for deer. "Deer & Co. The Department Store for Deer" was selling Santa's by the lb., reindeer games and designer hoof wear.  Corny? yes, but it's Christmas.  Hermie the dentist was on 5. "It's cute, it's cute, she thinks it's cute".  I designed, constructed and painted the set, and then installed piece by piece.

2010 was very experimental.  I wanted to do something different with light and color and came up with the "Oh Mason Tree" idea.  I wasn't sure if it would actually work as I envisioned it until it was installed.  The tree was created with rows of mason jars filled with colored water and then back lit.  In the end I was happy with the result, especially at night.

The 2011 Christmas window was conceived with our charity of the season, The Children's Aid Society, in mind.  I wanted a window that would be playful and colorful.  I started with the material this time as inspiration.  I bought yards and yards of red and green felt, not sure exactly where I was going with it.  Felt has a nice nostalgic feel, childlike simplicity and warmth to it.  I wanted to take this somewhat old-fashioned material in a modern direction.  After cutting lots of masonite and felt, lots of painting (the lime green trees were a last minute addition) and lots and lots of spray adhesive, the modern forest with red doves flying overhead was finished just in time to bring in the month of December and the Christmas season.

For 2012 we once again looked to our December charity, which was Habitat for Humanity, for inspiration.  Habitat For Humanity's vision is a world where everyone has a safe and decent place to live.  We wanted to keep it "Swedish simple" this time.  After painting the back wall a beautiful shade of pale gray and building the house framing with 2 x 4's, the outside was lit.  Then the kids' Christmas decorating began.  As one of the children hung the lights, the other got ready to place the gold star atop the tree.  Soon after, the snow began to fall and Christmas was complete.

The inspiration for the 2013 Christmas window started, as it had for the last few years, with our December charity in mind.  That year, it was CANFAR (The Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research).  CANFAR is Canada's only independent charitable foundation dedicated to eliminating AIDS through research.  By funding promising HIV and AIDS research and promoting prevention through educational campaigns, CANFAR is working to end AIDS globally.  So the inspiration started with CANFAR and thoughts turned to the eighties and one of the brightest creative talents of the era, Keith Haring.  He grew up in Pennsylvania and moved to New York City in 1978.  He had a brief but brilliant career in New York from 1980 until his death in 1990 at the age of 31.  The Madonna and Child were taken from the cover art he did for the "A Very Special Christmas" series of albums.   In the window, we had Pennsylvania represented with a variety of Moravian stars, the iconic advent symbol.  The lit star came from the Moravian Bookshop in Bethlehem, PA.  It is the oldest bookshop in the U.S. (true) founded in 1745, and I have great memories of working  there during high school in the eighties.   I have always loved the image of the Moravian star and if you visit Bethlehem at Christmastime, you will see them in the doorways and windows of many homes particularly in the historic downtown area.

2014 was the year without a shop.....

2015 was our first year in our new home and our December charity was Habitat for Humanity Hamilton.  We decided to go old school and traditional with handmade wreaths and garlands, fresh fruit, early antiques and art, and packages tied up with string.

The 2016 windows were inspired by current events and our seasonal charity.  The "Build Love, Not Walls" windows idea was to present the message with big, brightly painted, wooden children's alphabet building blocks.