The path to Santa Claus was somewhat spontaneous. “Ten years ago,” Bushman recalls. “I made a few stuffed bunnies for my children’s gift boutique at school. Within minutes, they were all gone.” The success prompted Bushman to share the bunnies with a local shop owner, who fell in love with the idea immediately and encouraged Bushman to begin handcrafting one-of-a-kind Santa dolls. She began designing a pattern and a costume idea for each one, with heads of porcelain and a body made of fabrics and stuffing. The elaborate coats and hats sparked her creativity, leading to individual designs for each doll.
Bushman gathers materials and begins the creation of each Santa one at a time. “I am always taking note of the most current interior designs. For the coastal collection, I am mindful of vacation homes that need an extra touch. The Santas also make wonderful seaside gifts,” she says. She also accepts custom orders using items such as a grandmother’s fur coat or a treasured garment, necklace, or blanket.
Living with her husband, three teenagers and two dogs, Bushman says she always braces herself for what is typically an “absolutely insane” holiday season. Still, she admits that nothing gives her more peace and pleasure than spending hours designing, sewing, and trimming her dolls in the home workshop. She is surrounded by floor-to-ceiling boxes of trim, fabrics, and miniature toys.
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