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Philbrook Festival of Trees: Q&A with Pin and Ornament Designers

Images via Philbrook blog

There’s no better way to celebrate the holidays,  in my opinion, than by attending one of my favorite events here in Tulsa — the Philbrook Museum of Art’s annual Festival of Trees.

Since we’re about all things design at Prairie Hive,  the Philbrook folks kindly offered  us interviews with the artists who design and create the Festival of Trees collectible pins and ornaments.

For those who don’t know, these original, hand-made ornaments and pins are quite the hot items. They make a wonderful gift for co-workers, friends or relatives.

People have collections of these pins and ornaments going back years and years. Many believe that the holidays don’t officially start until they stop by the museum gift shop and buy the latest pin and ornament.

This year’s collectibles are available at the Philbrook Museum gift shop from now through Dec. 9 (or when they sell out — so you’d better hurry!)

I had the chance to talk with this year’s pin designer, Paula Wood, and the ornament designer, Dana Gilpin.

First up is Paula Wood, a Tulsa artist, who has been designing jewelry and art locally for her entire career.

The 2012 Philbrook Festival of Trees collectible pin


She says she has always collected the Philbrook pins, but she had not submitted a design until this year.

Prairie Hive: What inspired you to design this pin?

Paula Wood: My friend’s house was burglarized, and one of the biggest tragedies was they took all of her Festival of Trees pins. I had one that I gave to her, and she suggested that I design one of my own.  Then I just kind of had an idea — it popped in. I had purchased some crystals from a gem show in Tulsa and it just came from there.

PH: Tell us more about the materials used in your pin.

PW:  I use glass Chinese crystal cubed beads in multiple colors – red, cobalt blue, green, turquoise, amber, pale pink and black. All in different configurations to make a tree. The thing that really sets it apart are the wires: for each row of beads the wires running through are multicolored with little curls on the ends.

PH: What makes the pin distinct to your style?

PW: The wires, the fact that they can stack up nicely. The pins have red tops and green tops, and the bottom is usually a black bead — that really sets them apart. That and the colors — I’ve always been inspired by anything that is multicolored.

The 2012 Philbrook Festival of Trees collectible ornaments

Animals are the signature of Dana Gilpin’s work. Besides making art and teaching art classes for children, the Tulsa native is active in local animal rescue organizations.

Prairie Hive: What inspired you to make these ornaments for Festival of Trees?

Dana Gilpin: My love of animals comes through in all my work, and that’s why I decided to do all different colors, using mixed media — clay, acrylic paint, beads and sequins. The cat and dog ornaments are wearing Santa hats and outfits, holding a beaded Christmas tree.

PH: How much time have you invested in making the ornaments?

DG: I have so much fun doing my art. It’s just so fun that I don’t ever think about the time. I really am lucky that I can sit in my studio, and I call it playing instead of working.

PH: Why did you choose art as your profession?

DG: My father was an artist, so I grew up in the art world. I either wanted to be an artist or a veterinarian — and now I’m an artist with lots of animals.


Have fun at this year’s festival!

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