The Evolution of the Santas

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 then polymer clay, providing a 3-dimensional effect. I use the few carved faces as moulds for reproducing faces from a soft knit fabric and a stiffening agent, then hand painting the features. 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 and photos of antique Christmas postcards from the Victorian Era and beyond, revealed many styles to interpret.

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.


It disappoints me that the world seems to be keen to adopt our present day North American Santa, (a commercial creation since 1931), in place of the charming, legendary Christmas characters of centuries long ago.

In my own small way, I strive to keep the old Christmas 'gift bringers' alive with my interpretations as Olde World Santas.

~ Shirley Ivison ~

As well as from this web site, some of my Santas are available at Quinn's of Tweed - Tweed, Ontario, Canada.

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Shirley Ivison     4167 Hwy 37    RR 2   Roslin     ON     K0K 2Y0     CANADA
phone: 613 477 2869     E-mail: