Holiday Cheer Made Here
During the holidays, ornaments take center stage at the Chrysler Museum. As decorations, heirlooms, and experiences, they hold a special place in the hearts of many. Each year since 2014, Chrysler Museum Glass Studio artists have created a custom ornament for sale exclusively through the Museum Shop. Kelsey Finnie, a part-time instructor at the Glass Studio and the owner of Kelsey Finnie Glass, created the Chrysler’s 2020 ornament, a snowperson adorned with a Chrysler blue scarf. Kelsey’s snowperson is just one of several glass ornaments in the Museum Shop made by Studio artists. This year’s selection also includes glass icicles, fancy blown tree-toppers, and other traditional round ornaments in beautiful colors.
Kelsey’s snowperson is the Museum’s seventh commemorative ornament. The first was a cameo ornament of Huber Court created by Hannah Kirkpatrick. Since then, the Chrysler has been happy to be a part of the holiday traditions of many families who visit the Museum Shop to purchase an ornament to commemorate each year, and artists at the Glass Studio are always excited to participate.
Kelsey has been with the Museum since 2014, first as a Studio Assistant and then as a part-time instructor, a position she has held for almost four years. Despite working with hot glass for over a decade, she never devoted much time to custom glassware. When many aspects of her life changed due to COVID-19, Finnie thought 2020 was the perfect opportunity to focus on her custom designs.
Kelsey started blowing glass in 2010 at The Ohio State University, where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts. After getting the glass bug, she found out that she actually came from a lineage of glass artists. “My maternal grandfather dabbled in stain glass making—Tiffany-inspired lamps and window catchers. I later found out his parents worked and met at the American Glass factory. My great-grandfather was an engraver, and my great-grandmother was a secretary,” she said.
Kelsey’s work is recognizable for its high-quality craftsmanship. She has made snowpeople for the past few years and has refined her design for the Museum Shop snowperson. Kelsey started her task of creating the Chrysler’s 2020 ornament the same way she starts almost every other piece in the hot glass shop—with gathering. The process involves collecting molten clear glass out of a 2150-degree furnace on the end of a hollow stainless-steel rod. Next, she coats the clear glass with a few layers of frit, white glass particles that play the role of snow and give the snowperson its bright white color. After applying the color, Kelsey inserts a small bubble into the glass and inflates it with a blow hose. She forms the snowperson using jacks—glassblowing tools that look like two knife blades hinged together—to create constriction lines that separate the body of the snowperson from the head and the head from the pipe.
Once there’s a body, it’s time for some personality. Kelsey melts small strings of black glass to create the eyes and buttons. She finishes the piece by applying a hot gather of glass to the top and folding it over to form a hook, prepping the piece to hold a special place on your tree. Once the snowperson cools down, it gets a fashionable accessory—a blue scarf with Chrysler Museum of Art 2020 printed in silver foil.
Be sure to snag your limited edition 2020 Chrysler ornament at the Museum Shop. Shop November 29 during Museum Store Sunday for extra savings. Museum Members will enjoy 20% off all purchases. Non-members save 15%.
You can also find the 2020 Chrysler ornament and more of Kelsey’s work at the Glass Studio Holiday Sale December 4-6 or purchase it online at shop.chrysler.org. Follow Kelsey on Instagram at @kelseyfinnieglass.