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Santa Claus designer makes special appearance in Gonzales

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
Sept. 29, 2011 at 4:29 a.m.

Santa Claus craftsman Lynn Haney, sits with one of his handcrafted dolls. Haney will visit Laurel Ridge retail store in Gonzales on Friday and Saturday to personalize his collection. The appearance coincides with Come and Take It.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Santa Claus designer Lynn Haney, will personalize collection at Laurel Ridge

WHERE: Laurel Ridge, 827 St. Joseph St., Gonzales

WHEN: 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., Friday, and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday

MORE INFO: lynnhaney.com; Laurel Ridge, 830-672-2484

COME AND TAKE IT:

Three-day celebration commemorating the firing of the first shot of the Texas Revolution in Gonzales.

For more information and schedule, go to:

gonzalestexas.com/calendar/icalrepeatdetail/2011/09/30/181/14/come-a-take-it-festival.

Lynn Haney shares more than a physical likeness with his handmade Santa Claus dolls. Like Santa, Haney too, is a self-professed Christmas enthusiast.

"That's a compliment," if people think I look like Santa. As long as they like my product," he laughed.

The Lubbock-based artist earns his livelihood crafting specialty collector Santa dolls, each unique, and made with rabbit furs imported from Spain, and fine leathers.

"I tried therapy and it didn't work out, so I thought I'd give this a try instead," Haney chuckled, reflecting on his entrance into art entrepreneurship 25 years ago.

Before launching the Lynn Haney Collection in 1987, he worked as a junior high school art teacher honing his textile and sculpting skills.

What started as a hobby, has now flourished into a national and international brand. Haney's dolls have sold by the tens of thousands to major retail stores around the country, including Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman, among others. Upon purchase, the dolls come with a certificate of authenticity, signed by the designer, Haney said.

His design studio in Lubbock also has grown to accommodate a staff of 30 specialty artists, who assist with the assembly of the dolls.

"I still kind of pinch myself realizing this is what I do for a living," Haney said. "What's not to like. It was basically my hobby that became my job."

On Friday and Saturday, Haney is scheduled to appear at Laurel Ridge in Gonzales, where his Santa dolls have been sold by the thousands for about two decades. Haney said he aims to personalize his dolls for new and loyal collectors.

"This is pretty special for us," Laurel Ridge owner Barbara Crozier said. "He enjoys meeting the people who enjoy his work."

Crozier said Haney also teamed up to design a Santa doll exclusively for Laurel Ridge this season. Other Santa dolls from the collection are available for purchase. Prices range from $300 to $550. Laurel Ridge exclusive Santa dolls include Haney's "White Christmas," "Where the Tree Tops Glisten," "Eat Dessert First" and "Sleighbells in the Snow."

On Haney's website, Lynnhaney.com, the dolls are available in 150 unique styles, and range in size from 18 to 36 inches.

"On Christmas morning, I always go around the room with my family and talk about our favorite things. I always appreciate that we get to be a part of so many people's Christmas traditions," Haney said.

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