Jefferson County artist's trail ornament on White House tree

December 11, 2007|By DAVE McMILLION

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - A little bit of Jefferson County is hanging on the official White House Christmas tree.

In celebration of 100 years of the National Park Service, national park superintendents were asked by first lady Laura Bush to select an artist to decorate an ornament representing their park.

Locally, that honor went to Sheila Brannan, a stained-glass artist from Shepherdstown.

Brannan collaborated with other park officials in designing an ornament that represented the Appalachian Trail, a popular 2,175-mile hiking trail from Maine to Georgia that passes through Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

A gold ball from the White House arrived at the trail's office in Harpers Ferry in August, ready for Brannan to apply her personal touch.


The ornament shows a trail leading into some woods with the familiar "blaze" symbol from the trail shown on trees, Brannan said. The blaze is used to designate the trail for hikers to follow.

"Anyone who walks the trail knows the blaze," Brannan said.

To create boulders along the trail scene, Brannan crumpled a piece of a brown paper bag and painted it. Brannan also used the paper bag material to create trees for the ornament.

The ornament was shipped in late September to be added to 346 others, Brannan said.

On Nov. 28, Brannan visited the White House along with other artists participating in the project and saw her ornament hanging on a "magnificent tree" in the Blue Room.

"The White House was beautiful ... decorations everywhere," Brannan said.

After the holidays, the ornament will become part of the permanent White House collection, Brannan said.

Brannan's stained glass is used in homes and businesses and she also creates free-form designs using hand-blown West Virginia glass, copper and found objects.

Her work can be found at Tamarack, the state sponsored crafts gallery in Beckley, W.Va., North Mountain Arts in Hedgesville, W.Va., and a rotating collection at Lost Dog Coffee Shop in Shepherdstown.

The Herald-Mail Articles