In memory - Hallmark Keepsake Artist - Donna Lee
Hallmark Keepsake Artist Donna Hill (Lee) passed away February 8, 2011. Donna was a Hallmark Keepsake artist for 30 years. Her ornament designs will forever be treasured by Hallmark collectors.
Hallmark Keepsake Studio Artist, Donna Lee sculpted hundreds of Hallmark Keepsake ornaments before her retirement in 1993. At the time of her retirement Donna had sculpted all of the Nostalgic Houses and Shops, one of Hallmark's most popular series. The ornaments that Donna designed for Nostalgic Houses and Shops were inspired by the buildings, the people and her memories from childhood; as were many of the ornaments that she designed.
One of the original four artists chosen to begin the Keepsake Ornament department, Donna Lee joined Ed Seale, Peter Dutkin and Linda Sickman as the artists responsible for giving life to the Hallmark Keepsake ornament line that we still love today. In 1975 Hallmark introduced the first 'handcrafted' ornaments to the Keepsake line. There were twelve handcrafted ornaments that first year and Donna Lee was responsible for the six Adorable Adornment ornaments.
Besides the Nostalgic Houses and Shops series, Donna created many more of Hallmark ornaments most memorable designs. Before the beginning of Keepsakes, Donna was working in Hallmark's Specialty Design Department. During her time there she brought in a prototype of a goofy looking reindeer; that reindeer became one of Hallmark's all time best selling properties, Rodney Reindeer. In 1982 the Musical Angel became the first in an unofficial collection of angels that Donna calls the 'mischievous angels.' Collectors simply call them the Donna Lee angels. Donna Lee also championed the miniature ornament line. Original market research caused Hallmark to reject the idea of the miniature line. Donna Lee was instrumental in persuading some of the other studio artists to help her create a small tree complete with miniature ornaments. When presented with the result and shown the concept the miniature line was approved.
In 1993 Donna Lee retired from Hallmark primarily due to her health. But after a couple of years of retirement Donna pleased collectors by introducing the short lived Starry Eyed Ornaments. The Starry Eyed ornaments were only produced for a short period of time, but the detail of these ornaments is extraordinary and like most of Donna's Hallmark designs, each had a story of its own.
Some information for this article came from: "Still Following Her Star - The Story of Donna Lee and the Ornaments She Creates" by Donna Lee with Deborah Shouse