Where Have These Been All Your Life?

If you haven’t heard of them, Willow Tree Figurines are a secret find for gifts you should not miss out on. The range is artisan designed, hand sculpted yet affordable art you can give for so many occasions. This introduction explains the concept behind these amazing pieces, why people avidly collect them and their special features. By reading this, you might just have stumbled onto the best gift idea you’ve ever found at an everyday price.

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The figurines are sculpted to express emotions, a simple yet genius concept when you’re trying to choose a meaningful gift. Each figurine conveys an emotion, subtly yet pervasively, imbued with meaning for the person you give them to. This has lead a an incredible range of figurines suitable for many occasions – not just birthdays and Christmas, but weddings, graduation, parents whose children are starting school, any occasion  when you want to give a heart-warming gift. With the transmission of human emotion at the heart of these pieces, they have developed strong fan bases who even build large collections year after year.

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The line of figures is added to each year; meaning for those who like to collect art pieces, this line is one to come back to time and time again. There are those who collect special ranges, such as the angel figurines in the lines, and those who go for the fuller range, amassing hundreds of pieces. The prices are reasonable enough to allow for collectors to enjoy a wonderful hobby without breaking the bank. With a combination of always expanding captivating figures at everyday prices, the figurines have some astounding features which will certainly surprise you.

One amazing fact is none of the figurines are sculpted without any facial detail – yet each exactly conveys a special expression of human sentiment. Moving right away from earlier figurine traditions, each piece has a subtle, understated quality. Emotion is conveyed using body language rather than frozen into facial features – and this gives the range its universal nature. Anyone can relate to these pieces, whereas with traditional figurines you may not connect with the face and attitude portrayed.

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The figurines are an international phenomena, attracting attention not just in North America but these days the word has spread around the globe. Since they are miniature pieces, they will ship overseas again at more reasonable prices than you might expect for collectables. They are meaningful, affordable gifts from an ever expanding range and their emotional appeal is universal. With this in mind, you may well want to explore the range for the next time you’re hunting for a truly special gift.

By Kathy Ponsonby

How To Never Ever Get Stuck Searching For A Gift!

Having read all about the background of willow tree figurines, you might well be wondering whether you really can find one to give as a gift for an upcoming occasion, or is it all just hype? The range is incredibly versatile – we think this comes down to the fact that unlike other ornaments or art work, you are not tied to whether the receiver is able to connect with the ‘person’ portrayed, these are universal symbols of human sentiment. There is no ‘person’ to like or dislike, more a human form with subtle nuances of warming emotions. This page explains the type of gifts perfect for family and friends, weddings, civil partnerships and anniversaries, special occasions, thank you or sympathy gifts and finally Christmas gifts. This quick guide could help give you some affordable yet brilliant  ideas for that special gift or for adding to your own collection in ways you might not have thought of.

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Family and friends

There are many figurines featuring family relationships – mother and daughter, mother and son, father and daughter, father and son, grandparents and individual children. The pieces include up to three characters and directly express aspects of those relationships. There is a special collection  for Mothers Day gifts called the Garden of Roses, which features a sculpted ‘wooden’ cupboard for placing up to 6 seated child figurines in.  You could also try angels for family and friends and not just in the Christmas season; the Christmas collection also features some animals, which could be handy for your friends who’ve just moved to the countryside.

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Wedding Gifts

There are pieces which are specially designed for celebrating either weddings or wedding anniversaries, such as the ‘Promise’ minature figurine cake topper which you can place onto the wedding cake itself. However don’t forget that you may also find some of the figurines outside this dedicated range are also entirely suitable as engagement, wedding or wedding anniversary gifts – for example, the ‘Happiness’ figure or an angel might be a great for engagement gifts. Some of the figurines will also work well as gifts for those choosing not to marry in these modern times, and we think individual figurines could be combined  beautifully for civil partnerships or gay marriage gifts, or later anniversary celebrations.

One of the factors that probably explain the success of the figurines is their sheer adaptability – there are many occasions that they seem to encapsulate the spirit of. Americans could confidently find a figurine for the 4th of July celebrations and thanksgiving. You could choose a joyful figure for those who’ve passed exams – driving tests, work tests, or landing a promotion.

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There are figurines you can gift to friend, particularly useful for when you want a thank you gift that lasts longer than simply flowers or chocolates. The range also includes suitable figures for student graduation gifts, and also for parents whose children are staring education at any age. Some of the figurines would also make a subtle statement in sympathy, perhaps during bereavement.

There’s a full range of angels which work well for many faiths or even for those who do not hold a particular defined religion in their household. Remember angels are a symbol which functions both within and outside the symbolisms of faiths.

For people who keep Christmas, there are special nativity figurines including Mary and Joseph against a specially designed backdrop of stable doors called the Sanctuary. Animals available include a donkey, sheep, ox and goat. There are also angels and other traditional Christmas ornaments you can add to the nativity collection to make a fuller display.

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So for people in every walk of life, there will be a figurine, or figurines that you could choose as a really welcome gift – if you’re collecting, make a pact with a friend to buy a suprise figurine for each other at regular intervals to grow your collection in a really interesting way. You’d be surprised what you’ll end up with that you might never think of for yourself, but could grow to love! There are some pieces with are universal enough to give to those you need a more neutral gift for, such as your children’s teachers, or a work colleague for a secret santa gift. You now have an overview of the versatility of the range and some more ideas for how to choose one by thinking outside the box a little or interesting ways you can develop your own collection in.

By Kathy Ponsonby

How It All Started From A Few Angels!

One revelation is despite their popularity today, as contemporary art goes, the Willow Tree figurines range is a mere ‘baby’ among collectables. The line will certainly be around for years and already there are retailers offering earlier and rarer discontinued (“retired”) pieces. This page explains the artistic credentials of their creator artist Susan Lordi, the inspiration behind the line and the birth of the figurines in the year 200. By the time you have read this, you will have the history, development and understanding of pieces in development to fully grasp what made the figurines a firm favourite.

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Susan Lordi qualified with a Masters of Fine arts and Textile Design and is known for her international exhibitors of art using textiles as well as her Willow Tree range. Susan has a love affair with textiles that has lead to recognition on the international art stage. Her artist’s studio is based in Kansas City, in Missouri USA and her reputation has travelled, with her textile art featured in books of fine art. Susan described the move into sculpting as inspirational to work in three dimensions, and reflects on how her art studies over the years would always have figures doodled between the notes from the lectures. . With an inspired artist at the helm, the figurines began to take on a life of their own from the world around her.

Susan has described the various influences that move her to fashion each piece as including dance, nature and her strong relationships with her family and her friends. Her ultimate goal with every single piece is to create a work of emotion which she has paradoxically found a channel for in creating the expressionless faces of the figurines. She gives credit to her observation of dolls created for Amish children by their mothers as highly influential. For religious reasons, those dolls were created without facial features yet Susan saw in them a simple channel for emotional expression from mother to child. From her years of study and gathering artistic strength from those experiences of strong human sentiment, Susan launched her first very small range of figurines in 2000.

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The original products very simply featured fifteen angels, a single ‘regular’ figurine and nativity items, launched in January 2000. The products were accompanied by a Sentiment Card capturing the emotional inspiration behind them. Each product was officially ‘discontinued’ the following year as they were replaced by newer figurines which began featuring family relationships, such as the ‘father and Daughter’ piece. Today, from its humble beginnings, the range stands at over 300 figurines, capturing family relationships, aspects of childhood, sentiments for special occasions, Christmas sentiments and an ever growing  line  of angel figurines.

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In response to consumer demand, some of the figurines have been specially adapted for weddings, such as the ‘Promise’ wedding cake topper figurine featuring a couple in a moving embrace. There are also figurines from a greater variety of ethnic backgrounds in the making again to reflect customer feedback showing a need for greater range.  The artistic input of a long established fine artist, influenced by movement, nature and human relationships has propelled the brand from less than thirty pieces to over 300 with customers asking for specific desired designs. If you have only ever seen a couple of pieces, or have not come across the brand at all, this can give you the full history, development and future collections for this highly collectable figurines  line.

By Joanne Godfrey