The Wonder of Santa:
Bethany Lowe

The Wonder of Santa

Christmas was a magical time for our family and the small community I grew up in,” says entrepreneur Bethany Lowe. “Families went for horse-drawn carriage rides, ice-skated together on country ponds, went caroling door-to-door, and built snowmen to greet passers-by.” Lowe, a self-taught folk artist, weaves the spirit of these idyllic holiday memories into the realistic Santa figures that form the foundation for her company, Bethany Lowe Designs.

The Wonder of Santa

Bethany’s somewhat unexpected career began in the 1980s when she and husband Curt were running a family farming operation and raising four children in their home state of Illinois. Her mother had always encouraged her creative pursuits, so when Midwestern farmers were hard-hit by the country’s economic woes, it was natural for Bethany to turn to art as a means to supplement the family’s income. She began making “country décor” items to sell at home parties, which soon led to juried folk art shows across the country and, eventually, the wholesale market.

The Wonder of Santa

“I think creativity is something you are born with—but it takes hard work and perseverance to make it your life’s work and business,” says the former full-time homemaker. “I didn’t know enough about creating a business to be afraid, so I just did it!” While writing articles for a folk art magazine, her research delved into the history of Santa Claus, and when she began making her own likenesses of the beloved character, she designed them to portray the various legends of St. Nicholas she had read about.

The Wonder of Santa

Dressed in flowing velvet robes or bundled in fur-trimmed tweed coats, Bethany’s Santas all sport snow-white beards and engaging expressions that have endeared them to collectors all over the world. Her company offers two distinct lines. A team of four craftspeople help bring her whimsical visions and precise specifications to lifelike form for serious collectors who appreciate her one-of-a-kind “Nostalgia for Nicholas” pieces. The new “Build a Tradition” line employs teams of artisans to replicate her work, making it more accessible to a broader audience. Nine years ago, she expanded her inventory to include other major holidays as well.

The Wonder of Santa

Come December, Bethany’s brilliant imagination carries over to her residence, where each room is decorated with a different theme and color scheme—and her home studio rivals Santa’s own workshop for sheer enchantment.

The Wonder of Santa
Bethany can’t imagine a life without her art, and she cherishes the solitary time spent designing and painting—especially those jolly old friends. “Through my artwork, I hope to create memories for today’s families,” she says, “like the moments I remember as a child and continue to build with my own children and grandchildren.”

Text Karen Callaway
Photography Marcy Black Simpson

To read more, see “The Wonder of Santa” on page 43 of the November/December 2016 issue of Victoria.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. What a lovely article! Bethany’s art is indeed beautiful and enchanting!

    I so wish I had her creativity and artistic eye!

    Such a nice article to start our Christmas season of decorating, entertaining, and festive events with family and friends!

    Brandon Hartford
    Te Deum Cottage

  2. I have small collection of Santa’s and love them dearly. None are even close to the ones you have created, Your’s are so realistic and so joyful looks like they could speak to you. What a wonderful story for Christmas, thank you for sharing it with all of us. Where do we find your creations to purchase? Merry Christmas and keep on creating your dear little Jolly Santa’s. Your attention to details is remarkable.

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