I saw Lorrie painting Santa Claus

KEESEVILLE - Lorrie Mandigo likes drawing Santa Clauses. So much, in fact, she's developed quite the pastime out of it.

Mandigo has been hand-painting likenesses of the jolly, old elf for the last four years, making use of whatever canvas she can - no matter how unconventional it may be.

"I've painted Santas on old medicine bottles, flat irons, ironing boards, silverware, light bulbs," said Mandigo. "I've painted on all different kinds of surfaces."

What Mandigo likes most about painting on the not-so-normal canvases is how her artwork provides new life to items that could otherwise find their way into the landfill.

"I really like to paint on things that are recycled or found or that would be thrown away otherwise," she said.

However, Mandigo's favorite piece to transform is one that naturally take the shape of the ideal Kris Kringle.

"I love to paint on gourds. They're just fat and they look like Santas," she said.

When Mandigo moved to the North Country earlier this year from eastern Texas, she brought with her a harvest of more than 1,000 gourds she had grown in her garden, giving her an ample supply of future Santas to create.

"Gourds grow pretty well in Texas," she said, laughing.

Mandigo also prefers cypress knees for her artwork - roots of cypress trees that are native to the swamps of Louisiana, Florida and Mississippi.

"They're the actual roots of the tree but they grow up in a very cone-like shape," she explained. "I discovered them when I was living on the state line of Texas and Louisiana. Tree farmers cut them down and crafters can harvest them and boil their bark off to work with them. They're really lovely."

Most recently, Mandigo's sister, who works at the Northwoods School in Lake Placid, encouraged her to paint on hockey pucks, getting the idea from the school's reputation for being associated with the sport.

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