Santa Goes Global!
The Center Court of Oakdale Mall, Johnson City, is all decked out in its’ Christmas splendor. As you walk by, you feel as someone is looking down at you, watching you. And yes, it’s Santa! Actually six life size Santa’s created by local artist Linda Kays-Biviano and Margaret Kreiner from Norwich, NY. Each Santa displayed is costumed in a different theme, the Traditional Santa, the Russian Santa, Kris Kringle, St. Nicholas, the Civil War Santa, and the Victorian Santa.
Linda Kays-Biviano works for Norwich Pharmaceutical, but spends her evenings creating hand sculptured artist doll characters. She especially enjoys making elves, gnomes and Santa’s year round. She also creates celebrity artist dolls when commissioned. Margaret Kreiner, is a retired employee of Proctor and Gamble, and now enjoys making Santa’s as a hobby. Together they have partnered their artistic talents to make life sized Santa’s for commercial décor.
To create the Santas’, the Linda hand sculptures the head and hands in clay, and then molds and cast in a lifelike silicone rubber. Glass eyes were inserted and wool fleece was hand felted directly into the silicone.
A skeleton of PVC pipe was assembled and covered with pillows and foam. All this is then covered with fabric to create the body. The costume is sewn by the artist, and either faux fur or recycled fur is used for trim. Linda and Margaret make every effort to create a realistic lifelike character.
If you can’t get to the Mall, you can see photos of the different Santa’s on the internet at www.lifesizesantas.com.
Through this website, Linda Kays Studios, acquired a commission to make a life size Traditional Santa Claus for a restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
The owner of the restaurant in Vietnam had a vision of displaying a large Santa Claus for her customers to have pictures taken with him. After relentlessly surfing the internet, she came across the website that displayed the 6 life size Santa’s in the Oakdale Mall, Johnson City, NY made by Linda Kays-Biviano and Margaret Kreiner. She asked her uncle, which had been living in the USA for years; to contact Linda Kays Studios, to ask if it was possible to create a Santa for her.
The Santa Claus created for the Vietnamese restaurant is similar to the one displayed in the Oakdale Mall. With the exception that in the book he’s holding, list Vietnamese names in the “Naughty and Nice” pages.
The Traditional Santa left Norwich in a wood crate via a freight truck bound for San Jose, California and from there, on a plane to Vietnam. Maybe a sleigh pulled by reindeer would be faster?