santa Juelie
New Artist Profile
Juelie McLean
(From Dollmaking Magazine December 2000 Issue)

Santa Claus has always been synonymous with the spirit of giving and love. However Juelie McLean, affectionately known as the "Santalady " gives her porcelain creations a whole new twist. Using customers' own heirloom fabrics andjewelry, Juelie makes one-of-a-kind Santas that are truly works of art.

As a child Juelie's dolls didn't hold any higher position than many of her other toys. She loved the outdoors, so claims she leaned more towards a "tom-boy ". However, after her children were mid-way through their schooling,she formed an interest dolls. Originally, Native American dolls sparked her interest. She started making all kinds but found her favorite to be the traditional dolls of the Lakota People.

Juelie's background in dolls easily evolved into Santas. About 10 years ago, she and her mother saw some Santas at a craft fair so they both decided to make one. Juelie quickly finished her doll and her mom's as well. She enjoyed it so much that she made many more and soon people began requesting them.

Juelie registers each of her Santas, and is currently working on #181. She designs her Santas for display and stability so people can easily place them on the mantle or in the entry way. Therefore, she designs the wooden stand to extend through the Santa's cloth body clear up to the top of his head. Juelie devised a wire armature for the arms so they are fully posable. His head, forearms and hands are bisque porcelain. Juelie prefers not to use wool for his beard and normally paints his eyes brown.

Juelie's Santas each come with lace-trimmed bloomers, net half-slip with a wire hoop bottom trimmed in lace. The wire hoop allows the gown to flow evenly under the robe. The gowns are fully lined and mainly of wool or linens. The robes are of many different styles and are coat-weight wool with fur trim. Each Santa's head gear is also unique ranging from evergreen wreaths to pillbox style hats trimmed in fur. Juelie also creates the lace-up high-top boots for each Santa from leather and matching fur.

Juelie styles her Santas in "olde world " Europe or Russian tradition. Much of her inspiration comes from a collection of almost 1,000 vintage Santa post cards from the turn of the century. Her "Mountain Man " Santa is particularly unique in that it incorporates her two major doll making interests - Native American and Santa.

Juelie also specializes in custom work, which is the source of the majority of her income. Customers often bring old family furs, fabrics or wedding gowns and have her design a very special and meaningful Santa for them. She and the customer work together in the designing so the customer plays an active role in the outcome.

Over the years Juelie has been asked to make a variety of different Santa such as cowboy or golfer styles. However, that is not where her interest lies. She is true to the "olde world " style and her endeavors to branch out will be along those lines. Right now she is designing a Snegurochka, the Russian Snow Maiden, Babushka, La Befanna and other olde world gift-givers. Before creating one of these traditional Santas, Juelie does extensive research and then publishes what she has learned on her internet site.

"Olde World " and New World
Because Juelie lives in Montana, far from all the larger cities, it has been a challenge to market her dolls. In 1995 she and her husband did two large shows in California on back to back weekends. While she sold very well, her expenses were too high considering lost work time, travel, booth fees, motel, and other expenses. That was when she decided to turn to the internet. At that time, Juelie hadn't seen it and didn't even have the computer capability. However, soon she found a local ISP (Internet Service Provider) and they helped her put up a page on the web.

When Juelie learned how expensive it would be to make changes to the site, she decided to learn to do it herself. She started with a free home site on Geocities when there was about 80,000 home sites (today there are literally millions) and learned html (the internet language) and website design. When she felt competent, she took over her own site that has now grown into a huge Victorian Christmas site. During Christmas thne she average over 2,000 people a day visiting.

Juelie no longer does shows because she keeps very busy with orders coming in from the internet. She has also gotten into web design for other artists and doll-related businesses. She often gets calls from doll artists asking for internet advice because they see her link everywhere. She's happy to comply because she remembers when it was all new to her too.

Juelie knows that the internet is going to play a major role in most businesses' marketing strategy. She suggests if you live in a well populated area, you may still want to do shows for the promotion of your website. Also, she claims, advertising outside the internet is a must so people can find you. " 'If you build it, they will come' is not true on the internet when one considers how many millions of new sites are going up all the time world-wide, " Juelie claims.

She also states that "search engines " are not a cure-all when you consider the multitude of sites out there. Domain names are an important tool to make the internet work more successfully for you.

Finally, she adds: "Finding the right ISP to host your site and the right website designer for you are key elements. Maybe you will want to learn to do some of it yourself. "

One of Juelie's favorite ways of sharing ideas on the internet is her e-mail group of Santa makers. The members ask and give each other advice. Juelie and another Santa artist, Patty McCarty of West Virginia, own the "Santa Ring. " The ring connects about 60 santa makers together via a "ring " so a visitor can go directly from one Santa artist to another in a complete circle.

Juelie likens the internet "family " with Santa's spirit of giving. She adds: "The most refreshing thing about the internet is that people are willing to share and work together, even if they are competitors. "


All images and content © 2000 Dollmaking Magzine

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To Continue Exploring the Santalady's Site:
Newest Santas
Santa Gallery
MT Man Santa/Kiyuwaste Dolls
Santas From Your "Wedding" Gown
Meet the Artist
Brief History of Santa
Gift Givers of the World
Santalady's Antique Santa Postcards
Santalady's Victorian Christmas GIFS
Webdesign by Juelie
Vintage Santa Musical DVD
Santa Bulletin Board
Santa Collector's Bulletin Board
Santalady's Book Shoppe
Santalady's Favorite Links

Santalady's Awards
Christmas Games
Doll House Accessories
Juelie's State Flower Garden of GIFS

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