My experience working with textiles and fibres, has been mostly self taught and by engaging in workshops for well over 30 years.
The santas first started with a simple wood and wire armature, padded and wearing a plain coat and hood trimmed with fur. The face was expressionless; a plain, fabric covered oval, no eyes, no nose, no mouth.
The faces slowly evolved through experimentation with carving facial features in styrofoam, covering them with felt, but still no facial features. Next came the carving of polymer clay faces, providing a 3-dimensional effect. Repeatedly carving polymer clay was not for me. Instead I used the few faces, that I had carved, as moulds for reproducing faces using a soft knit fabric and a stiffening agent. Eventually, I finally met with success. I now use faces, both my carved ones and porcelain ones, as moulds. The resulting firm, cloth faces, quite solid to the touch, are often mistaken for ceramic or porcelain.
Extensive research put an end to the plain costumes. Several books on Christmas legends and traditions revealed the evolution of Santa Claus from before Christianity to our present day Santa. I interpret these legendary figures, in my "Heritage Collection". My "Classic Santa Collection" is inspired by the Santas found on old Christmas postcards from the Victorian Era and beyond. Another very popular Santa is the 'Tartan Santa'. These jolly fellows are dressed in the authentic Scottish or Canadian tartan of your choice, imported from Scotland.
I sew all the costumes from scratch, from my own patterns: coats, pants, hats, boots and mitts. The only ready-made items are the accessories they carry.
~ Shirley Ivison ~