Vaillancourt Folk Art | A Christmas Tradition by Barbara McGraw

The holiday season is a time we associate with family traditions.  Cookie recipes handed down from grandmothers, a family outing to select the perfect tree, or an ornament exchange party might be some of our family rituals.

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Heirloom pieces are another way to celebrate the season by passing down true collectibles.  Vaillancourt Folk Art is one of those time-honored collections that will be cherished for generations.  These hand painted chalkware pieces come to life when Judi Vaillancourt’s classically trained hand puts paint to brush and a new Santa is born.

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The figures themselves are created from antique chocolate moulds. In the mid 1800’s chocolate was transformed from a liquid to a solid form.  Chocolatiers realized that a dramatic window display would help sell their chocolate.  Copper plate moulds were being produced that were highly detailed and depicted seasonal images.  Chocolate shops began to compete for the best window displays using chocolate fashioned from these moulds.  Some were huge, while others diminutive.  But they always reflected the season.

Judi received a gift of one of these moulds from her husband and Vaillancourt Folk Art began.  She devised her own process for chalkware that creates the figures and has amassed one of the most extensive chocolate mould collections in the world.   Every chalkware piece is lovingly created and painted in Judi’s Massachusetts studio.  Now celebrating thirty years of producing these charming pieces, Vaillancourt Folk Art is truly a unique collectible.

To celebrate its 30th Anniversary, Vaillancourt has fashioned a special old world Santa from one of its earliest moulds in the collection.  This classic figure will enhance every collectors display.  He wears a brilliant red coat accented with a white wintry scene.   Carrying a beaded sack brimming with ornaments, he is ready to trim the tree.

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There is a wide and varied selection of Santa Clauses in the Vaillancourt collection.  An old world Father Christmas holds a small feather tree, St. Nicholas wears a mitre and holds a cozier, a Russian Santa wears a fur trimmed hat.  Some ride in sleds, some in cars, others bend forward as if they are bracing against a snowy wind.   And of course the Jolly Santa in a red suit we all know, is represented for the traditionalist.

Collect the ones that call to you.  Each piece tells a little story by the way it is painted.  Some are serious others are whimsical.  Group them together for greater impact.  Give one prominence under a dome.  These hand crafted figures add old world charm to compliment any décor.

Start another family tradition this year and choose a Vaillancourt Santa who brings joy to you.  These heirloom pieces will seem like old friends when they march out of storage and take center stage in your Christmas display for many years to come.  The magic of Christmas will continue each year as this chalkware figure is handed down through the generations marking each holiday season with its own cherished memories.

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