Connecting to collect - collecting to connect

Joanne Eschrich

Hallmark Consulting Designer

Date started at Hallmark: September 1981
Date started at Keepsakes: January 1996
Hometown: Westport, Massachusetts

People started collecting Joanne Eschrich's work when she was in third grade. Of course, the collectors at that time were her classmates. Later, the requests kept coming. In high school from fellow classmates who asked her to illustrate their reports for biology. That was Joanne's moment of discovery. Unfortunately, it was because the biology teacher didn't think Joanne should be sharing her talents when it came to homework assignments.

Joanne's parents encouraged their children to be creative with their playtime. As a young artist being raised on a farm, Joanne had no shortage of animal friends to pose for her. She built dollhouses with her sisters and spaceships with her brothers.

When college came along, Joanne knew she was going to study art. Nothing else was as important. Despite her parents' attempts to talk her out of her career choice, she persevered and got an interview with Hallmark in her senior year. A job offer soon followed.

Joanne had never even considered sculpting when she was asked to try doing a piece for the Hallmark Merry Miniatures line. She created a basset hound named Sebastian for that assignment and discovered that her sculpting abilities rivaled her illustration talent.

Joanne doesn't have to look far for inspiration or support for her craft. Her daughters Jamie and Anna are thrilled with what she does, especially when she brings her work home and they get to give their opinions or model for her angels.

"On a few occasions they've brought my original sculptures along with the finished ornaments to 'show and tell' at their school," says Joanne. "They also love seeing 'Mom' on the back of the ornament boxes at the store."




“We had the opportunity to go to Santa Fe, New Mexico, for a huge art fair. While there, I saw a small, charming piece depicting The Holy Family with baby Jesus inside a paper star. The colors were similar to a lot of other pieces I saw throughout the Santa Fe area. I actually made the original ornament out of terra cotta clay, but it was too fragile to mold from. So, I created the original for this in wax.”



“All together, this collection reflects both the familiar and known concept of angels from my upbringing, plus my exposure to this other way of looking at the same icons. It’s the same faith and the same muse, but as seen through the eyes of different cultures using their own medium.”

“My family comes from the Portuguese Islands. My mom is always asking when we’re going to do a Portuguese angel. I tell her, that’s a skin tone of its own, Mom. Maybe I’ll get to that.”

“I love the feedback I get when people say I’m so glad you did an angel for us.”


“When we were in Santa Fe, everywhere we went these Hispanic angels were a big thing. The colors were bright and different from the way we usually do angels. I wanted to address that and truly capture the flavor of it. Angels are so often whitewashed and we wanted to get the colors of the skin and the hair just right. I wanted this one to look like it was made out of terra cotta like the clay and figurines we saw there.”



“For the past five years I’ve been doing an unofficial series of African-American angels. These are also very interesting to me because (like the Hispanic angels) there’s a rich culture there to dive into—looking at skin tone and using models (friends of mine here at Hallmark), making a connection with their culture and, once again, seeing how the faith we share is reflected in yet another culture, another perspective.”



“This is kind of the flipside of the Hispanic angel. I wanted to give it that traditional cherub kind of look—joyful, with the larger wings and a flow about her with the charms of a cross and a heart that’s dangling from her waist. I wanted to keep her colors light. I had a lot of fun with her. She kind of reflects my Catholic upbringing. Like the angels I’d see in the churches growing up.”


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