Once upon a time...
In the year 1995, two santamakers met
online and started chit-chatting away about making Santa Claus dolls, one santamaker,
named "Mountain Elves" owned by Patty McCarty in the hills of West Virginia
and the other santamaker, named "The Santalady" owned by Juelie McLean in
the mountains of Montana. Not long after, another doll maker Audrey
Swarz joined us. Soon, three more santamakers joined in! This small group of six lonely Santamaker's started sharing
information by email by adding each other to their email address books. The
IRC newsgroups available back in the old days were primitive & not very
personal. There wasn't very many of us back in those days, but we were
still delighted to find a way to share information & offer support to each
other! With the introduction of Windows 95, soon our little group grew
to 20+ and mailing each other was getting much harder! By now, even more santamakers were now finding themselves owning a website and hopping on the
"Information Superhighway". (If you were one of
those first few Santamakers, I would love to hear from you again)!
During this same time period
(1995) Sage Weil developed a script that gained
popularity, in June 1995 Weil formed a company called WebRing. Patty &
Julie thought this "Webring"
thing-a-ma-jig might be just what our little Santamakers group needed to
promote our web sites and so the "Santa Ring" was created Dec. 31, 1996.
When the Santa Ring was first created, Santa Artists were able to sign up &
request to become a juried Santa Ring member which assured quality sites
throughout the ring. The Santa Ring was doing very well until early
1999 when Yahoo bought GeoCities, and on September 5, 2000, Yahoo
fully-overhauled WebRing. Ringmasters now had little control over
features or who joined their Webrings. The Santa Ring switched from "juried
members" to "invitation only" in order to maintain some form of control.
With 18 members, the
Santa Ring still exists to this day, managed by Juelie McLean. No
new members have been added since 2003.
In 1997 we came across a little company
Onelist that offered a email list where everyone could join!
Onelist was still pretty primitive in the early days. There wasn't any "web
mail" back then and all email was downloaded to your computer! Still,
it was really nice not to add everyone to your address book manually, plus
our archived mail was online, WOW!
In 1998 Onelist merged with another
eGroups. (Wiki says 1999 but I still have a few emails from back
then dated 1998! Still no "web mail" but a much more powerful email
list with a shared calendar, file space, group chat, and a simple database!
Our little Santamakers community kept growing and growing...
In 2000 eGroups was purchased by Yahoo
and the deal became part of what we know today as Yahoo Groups. According to
Yahoo, Santamakers was founded April 24, 1998 when Onelist merged with
eGroups but does not date back to when Santamakers originally signed up with
Onelist. Santamakers had come a long way from that first list in 1995!
As of March 2009, our Yahoo Group has 252 members.
Around 2002 MSN, who had some of the
first IRC chats, started to gain on Yahoo by offering message boards, chat
rooms, a customizable homepage and photo albums. At the time, Yahoo had a
file cabinet to upload files but nothing as nice as the photo albums MSN
Communities provided. So, with the idea that the MSN Community would be an
extension of our beloved Yahoo Group, a Santamaker's Community was started
on MSN. After all, what's a Santamaker to do... MSN had photo albums!!
Of course, Yahoo eventually caught up offering their own version of
photo albums & goodies.
As time went on, some Santamakers
preferred MSN, while others preferred Yahoo and many of us liked features
that both groups provided. As our membership grew
(and my life got complicated) I could no longer handle both
groups alone. A little angel came to my rescue by the name of Lisa, "The Grandfather Claus". Lisa managed the MSN Community and I
managed the slower but steady Yahoo Group. Under Lisa's watch and her
natural knack at running a forum, the MSN group gained in popularity. I was
relieved to know the Community was in good hands. Eventually, Lisa had to
slow down too, but the group still went on with help from other Santamakers.
There were and probably still are a few confused Santamaker's that are not
aware that both groups are one entity. No matter which group you
belonged to, all Santamakers were, and still are united & supportive.
Now, fourteen years later, we are a large community of both
professional & amateur Santa Claus Artists and we are still growing! Everything
seemed to be running smoothly right until before Christmas 2008
(naturally). I started to receive a flurry of emails
from panicked Santamakers. Unfortunately MSN was closing their groups in February 2009.
MSN migrated the Santamakers Community to Multiply but many members found it
difficult to use, plus we lost that "personal feeling" that we felt with MSN
Groups. Many Santamakers felt cut off from the Community.
After much thought, the Santamakers Guild was created in December 2008 to fill the gap after the
dismemberment of the MSN groups and way to unite both the Santamakers Yahoo
Group and the now defunct MSN Group. The Santamakers Guild will serve as a
portal for all Santamakers. The first goal was to set up a place free
from distracting advertisements that do not serve Santamakers and to make an
ideal place for Santamakers to promote & even sell their work with no fees.
All site contributions & donations are voluntary.
The second task was to develop an easy
way that Santamakers could add information to the Guild site without
one person doing constant updates or our members having to wait around until their information
could be added to the site. The easiest solution, especially for
some Santamakers without much computer expertise, was to link this Santamakers
Guild web site with the message forum & photo gallery. Many
aspects of this site are directly updated by our members posting on the
Santamakers Community Forum including the Photo Gallery, Online Classes,
Workshops, Calendar and so forth. The Guild website is still in
development, some links are kind of skimpy right now until all the
Santamakers find their way home again. Many Santamakers are not yet aware
that the Santamakers MSN Community shut their door. Please be patient
as the site grows!
Membership is free (although donations are
always appreciated) and is open to Santa
Artists of all skill levels. Santa Collector's are encouraged to
register & post on our forum. Suppliers are welcome too & a
special place has been created on the forum just for you to post your
goodies! I haven't met a Santamaker yet that isn't addicted to their
Santa Claus making supplies!
Santamakersguild.com is hosted on my
web server and is not owned by a large corporation that may be here today
and gone tomorrow. Santamakers
should now & forever be able to find their way home!
To be continued....