White House tree has local ornament

December 15, 2008

By Jon Savelle

Issaquah artist’s design selected

Issaquah native Kimberley Dodd created this ornament, now hanging on the White House Christmas tree. Contributed

Issaquah native Kimberley Dodd created this ornament, now hanging on the White House Christmas tree. Contributed

Everyone knows that the fame of Issaquah residents reaches around the world, but now it reaches right into the White House, too.

Kimberley Dodd, an Issaquah native, was selected to produce an ornament for the White House Christmas tree.An artist who fashions molten glass with a torch, Dodd was recommended for the honor by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray’s office. It came in response to a request by First Lady Laura Bush for ornaments representing all 435 congressional districts.

“I received an e-mail one day through coworkers that Patty Murray was trying to find an artist,” Dodd told The Press. “I submitted photographs of my snowflake ornaments and a resumé, and I got a call saying OK. Three weeks later, I was shipped a plastic ball to decorate.”Likening the assignment to the popular “Pigs on Parade” project, a Pike Place Market commemorative in which 100 undecorated fiberglass pigs were given to artists to complete as they wish, Dodd enthusiastically took up the ornament job even though she doesn’t work in plastic.

“I made a collage,” she said. “I just researched some symbols online that would represent different economic interests in the state, printed them, made them into collages and created a kind of spiral pattern.”

The patterns are repeating images of cut logs, Boeing airplanes, apples, microchips, grapes and salmon. The printed patterns are affixed to the ball, along with a little banner that reads “Washington 2008” on one side and “Peace and Love” on the other.

It makes a very appealing ornament. The ball even appeared in a New York Times photograph showing it hanging near a much less appealing entry bearing an image of Teddy Roosevelt. In all, more than 370 artists from across the country contributed work to the tree.

Dodd is thrilled at having been included.

“It’s an exciting opportunity,” she said. “I would rather have my glass up in the White House, but it was a neat thing to participate in.”

Many of the artists attended a White House reception Dec. 2, but Dodd couldn’t make it. She said the invitation was sent with just two weeks’ notice, and she already had other travel plans.

Dodd, 34, now lives in Shoreline but she grew up here, attending Sunset Elementary School, Pine Lake Middle School and Eastside Catholic High School. She spent a year at the University of Washington, then finished her bachelor’s degree at The Evergreen State College in Olympia.

Since then, Dodd has studied traditional crafts in many cultures, including those of Fiji, Bhutan, Peru and the Basque district of Spain. She began her glass studies in 1999 with a visit to the traditional Italian glass center of Murano, near Venice.

Dodd is not the only Northwest artist to be selected for a White House tree ornament.

Congressman Dave Reichert’s office selected an ornament made by his daughter, Kent artist Angela Mathena, to represent the 8th District. A graphic designer and color consultant, Mathena decorated her ornament in a collage of red-and-white stripes with blue touches, and ribbons of white and blue.

Seattle artist Deborah Lawrence was recommended by Democratic Rep. Jim McDermott, of the 7th District, but her entry was rejected by the White House. It featured swirls of red and white stripes, a picture of McDermott — a persistent critic of President George W. Bush — and some text from a House resolution, backed by McDermott, calling for the impeachment of the president.

Reach Reporter Jon Savelle at 392-6434, ext. 234, or jsavelle@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.

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