Sunday, May 16, 2010

Santa Claus, Samana Bay and a Cat Named Mango

     If you collect Santa Claus figures, chances are you've heard of Norma Decamp.   For 35 years she's been making Santas.  Her style is instantly recognizable, faces full of expression and character, beards of wool, robes made from bits and pieces of  rich antique fabrics.  And then there are the embellishments: little vintage dolls of German bisque, tiny handmade toys, bottlebrush trees, sleighs and wagons pulled by reindeer.
     In 2006 Norma discovered ebay and a whole new world of people discovered Norma.  Her work was sought after, bid up and just generally created a stir.  Norma sometimes sold molds of her Santa heads which were quickly snapped up so that others could try and recreate the magic that Norma has.
She could have remained content in her North Carolina cottage creating her art and creating a stir, but success is not always measured in dollars and praise.
     Just this year Norma joined her son David at the mission he started in the Dominican Republic. This is from Norma's latest letter. "My son is the one that started this mission, it was a dream he had years ago, in fact he was only 15 when he thought of it, he wanted to try to help people to not only know the guiding light in their lives better, but to teach them how to raise gardens, purify their water, just how to survive in the country and like it. The cities are getting so crowded and so full of crime, country living is fantastic if one is willing to learn. We grow 30 different fruit trees on this compound, and have three different gardens here, there are lots of wonderful palm trees supplying us with coconuts, and we grow pineapples, bananas, plantain, we have avocado trees and mangos, in fact we have a wonderful cat named Mango that thinks he is a dog and hangs out all the time with our 7 dogs."
     The sailboat, the Santa, and the fisherman are all Norma's latest work.  I wonder what effect living in a tropical climate will have on future work.  Geography and a "sense of place" tend to have such an effect on our lives.  And a sense of purpose will have such an effect on others through Norma's life.
  For more information on the mission visit

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