Handmade ornaments add special touch to museum's Christmas trees

Museum volunteer, Mary Lynn Sondgeroth displays the Illinois-themed ornaments she made this year for the Hume Carnegie Museum. Illinois became the 21st state in the union on Dec. 3, 1818. The tree will be on display during the annual Holidays at the Museum celebration on Dec. 9. (Reporter photo by Jennifer Sommer)

Holidays at the Museum planned for Dec. 9

MENDOTA – The Mendota Museum & Historical Society will host its annual Holidays at the Museum on Sunday, Dec. 9 from 4-6 p.m. The Hume-Carnegie Museum will be filled with warmth, peace and love as they celebrate “Let Heaven & Nature Sing.”

Each of the museum's trees will be adorned in a song-inspired theme. For example, the parlor tree will celebrate the state of Illinois’ 200th birthday with “Illinois Illinois." Cardinals, deer, Monarch butterflies, Violet seed packets, and state symbols hang from the branches.

Museum volunteer Mary Lynn Sondgeroth has made many of the ornaments that adorn the trees throughout the museum. "I am a card maker, so I use many of the same techniques for the ornaments," she said.

Sondgeroth has been making ornaments for the museum's trees for the past eight years. She said she usually comes up with the ideas herself just by experimenting.

Sondgeroth and other volunteers make new ornaments each year to add to the collection and go with the year's chosen theme. "We try to recycle, reuse and tweak ornaments, too," she said.

Once, printed vintage postcards were made for a Victorian-themed tree. Later, the ornaments were turned over and printed sheet music was glued to the backside. The repurposed ornaments are now part of this year's "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" tree. The tree also includes many ornaments from volunteer Dee Holtz' angel collection.

"We try to change it up so every year it is a little different," Sondgeroth added.

Many of the ornaments are made with paper, glue, paper punches, die cuts, computer printouts, and glitter. Sondgeroth points out that glitter adds the finishing touch.

Several themed trees throughout the years have included a Mexican tree with a piñata tree topper and Mexican ornaments, a Swedish tree with red and white ornaments, a postcard tree with old Mendota postcard ornaments, a veterans tree with ornaments recognizing area veterans, and a Mendota tree with purple and gold ornaments.

"One year, my book club made ornaments from pine cones, twine, and basket reed for a natural tree," she said.

Sondgeroth said she is always surprised to hear when someone hasn't been to the museum. "It's a cool place."

In addition to the decorated trees, the museum is decked out for the holidays. On display is an extensive collection of nutcrackers. Natural pinecones, branches and berries will provide an earthy touch throughout the museum, as well.

The Holidays at the Museum celebration includes delicious appetizers, desserts, and beverages. The event is open to the public and is a ticketed event, $10 per member and $15 per non-member. Please RSVP by calling the museum at (815) 539-3373.

See page A11 for some more of the museum's ornaments that are on display this year.

Church Walk

The MMHS will also be participating in the Mendota area Church Walk set for Dec. 30 from 1-4 p.m. Sondgeroth has made several gold and white ornaments of Christian symbols for a Christmas tree inside the Country Chapel behind the Breaking the Prairie Museum, as well. 


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