It’s the most wonderful time of the year when we finally get to show all the new designs we’ve been working on at H&C Headquarters. We’re taking a look into the design process of one of our newest holiday offerings, the Twelve Days of Christmas Story. All of our new designs go through a collaborative planning process, where our team of creatives and co-founder Angie Cook discuss trends, aesthetics, and overall needs for our customers and our overall product line before any art even is created. After lots of planning, painting, and production, we’re so excited to share this new offering with you – let’s see how we got here.
Classic Christmas Reimagined
When thinking about the holiday season, there are certain traditions and imagery that seem essential. Think about a holiday bucket list of things that make your season – baking (and eating!) cookies, watching certain movies, and listening to certain tunes as much as possible. It’s these holiday essentials that Senior Designer Christie Vergona had in mind when starting research for the 2022 Christmas season of designs. She looked at classic ornaments and china, handmade decorations, and the advent calendar of her childhood for inspiration for this new winter wonderland. The advent calendar is one of her favorite holiday traditions – rather than a paper calendar, hers is a fabric rendition, with tiny plush ornaments that get hung on a tree for each day counting down to December 25th. These miniature ornaments, with their stitched details and classic palette, were a big influence on the aesthetic of this story.
Mood board submitted to Angie and the rest of the design team.
The Twelve Days Christmas carol is about abundance–another holiday concept familiar to Christie. She grew up in New York, land of extensive Christmas lights and fabulous holiday displays. She loved looking through department store holiday windows, always a visual feast and often an “I spy” game of miniatures and treasures. This more-is-more aesthetic, along with the huge list of characters in the carol, served as a jumping point for the rich imagery of this story. While it can be difficult to remember all twelve days of Christmas, most folks remember the partridge in the pear tree–and that’s why he’s the star of this story! Christie’s sketches included the partridge in all iterations to let this feathered friend shine while incorporating other classic Christmas imagery like bells, poinsettias, and red ribbon bows.
Countdown to Christmas
In the design cycle at Hester & Cook, it’s common to work on multiple projects at once. While painting the new autumn Gathering Story, Christie continued to make sketches and art tests for the Twelve Days of Christmas Story. The design team continued discussing color and art tests to refine the look, making sure everything was holiday party perfect before any paintings were created. Once the final sketches were approved, she did an art test of the partridge – this is when an artist creates a small, finished painting in the style of the proposed bigger project. Angie loved him, and with a few edits, this first painting became the Partridge Place Card.
Sketches and in-progress paintings as Senior Designer Christie (and her furry studio assistant) created the Twelve Days of Christmas Story.
With the style defined, Christie began painting the rest of the story, starting with the die-cut placemat, then continuing on to the Pears Table Accent, and finishing with the Bountiful Placemat, featuring all of the Twelve Days of Christmas characters. See the progression below!
Each day of painting brings new characters and details.
Christmas Comes Early
Once the paintings are complete, artwork for a story is scanned and edited digitally to ensure all products are a consistent size and fit our packaging. The final art is sent to our local printer for production, where it is checked during the printing process for color accuracy before being produced en masse. The die-cut items are all cut using machines, but punched and packaged by hand before being delivered to our Nashville headquarters and eventually being shipped to you for Christmas celebrations everywhere.
‘Tis the Season – Market Season!
Planning and creating market displays is one of the final (and most fun!) steps.
The last step of the design process is one that allows the team to be creative in a different way than our two-dimensional tabletop designs: how are we showing off our new stories at market and in the stores? We love working together on larger than life displays showing off new artwork and capturing the spirit of a story through coordinating crafts and decor (remember the Paper Logs and Mushrooms from the Forest Story? Those were also originally created for market). With its folk art feel and soft ornament inspiration, creating felt elements and hand stitching them to mimic the graphic paint strokes was a beautiful way to embody the art style of Twelve Days of Christmas Story in a different medium. The design team worked together to bring the painted elements of poinsettias, greenery, and pears into the real world, along with our star partridge. All elements were stitched by hand, adding to their charm and mimicking their hand painted source material. These displays often get repurposed in our Nashville and Franklin stores, bringing enchantment and getting customers excited for all that the new stories can inspire for their holidays and beyond. We are thrilled to share in your Christmas traditions with our newest, delightful holiday friends.
Keep an eye out closer to the holidays for a mini version of this DIY–perfect for gift toppers and tree ornaments!