Local artist makes ornament for White House
By Larry Anderson, Herald Editor

There's a little bit of Statesboro on the White House Christmas tree this year.

One of the ornaments, a gold-leaf angel, is a creation of Iris Sandkühler, assistant art professor at Georgia Southern University.

Sandkühler, after being nominated for the White House's "Year of the American Craft" program, was invited to submit a proposal for an ornament. The invitation arrived on Sept. 2. She completed and returned the paperwork for the proposal, and was accepted in early October. The only problem was that the ornament had to be completed and sent to the White House by Oct. 30.

"I spent a lot of time on it. I worked pretty much right up to the last minute, " she said.

She used a process called copper electroforming.

"I started with a hollow plastic base and electroformed, or grew, copper on top of the base. Then I polished and filed it and applied gold-leaf to the top," she said.

"It was a good project. I had to learn to gold-leaf, because I had never done it before."

Sandkühler has a master of fine arts degree from Ohio State with an emphasis in painting and drawing. But she spends most of her time now in sculpture and jewelry-making. She used her jewelry-making experience to create the ornament.

"I'm not in the business of making Christmas tree ornaments, so I approached it like a piece of jewelry. The White House required it to be a three-dimensional and it had to have as its theme an angel," she said.

It also had to include some gold — at least a gold string for hanging.

She had to buy all the ingredients and the ornament was donated to the White House.

"I was very pleased with the piece. And I was very pleased about getting in on it," she said.

The political ideas of the Clintons influenced Sandkühler in her decision to make the ornament. The previous two administrations were not as kind to the arts, she said.

"If it had been Reagan or Bush invited me, I wouldn't have bothered. I can't imagine them even doing something like this. For the first time in my life, I have really felt honored."

"I have had people say, 'It's really cheap of them to ask you to donate the ornament and not buy it.' I don't agree. I'm honored," she said."

Statesboro Herald
December 17, 1993

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