CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Babydog’s face will be on Christmas trees this year.
First Lady Cathy Justice announced Wednesday the state’s 2022 Limited Edition Christmas Ornament will feature her pet English bulldog.
The ornament, unveiled at the state Culture Center, was designed by stained glass artist Amanda Buckner who owns Amanda’s Glass Art in Kanawha City.
“I am working hard every day to Do It For Babydog!” Buckner said, referring to the slogan used to encourage West Virginians to get their COVID-19 vaccine.
The First Lady said Babydog, who often travels to events across the state with her husband Gov. Jim Justice, has become a symbol of hope in West Virginia amid the pandemic.
“Babydog has been such an inspiration to the state, almost a healing thing. When people see her, they laugh and smile, so we just wanted to have her in the mix this year,” the First Lady told MetroNews.
Justice said Babydog was a gift to the governor on Christmas Eve a few years ago and immediately became his loyal companion.
“She brings such happiness to our lives, and we’re thrilled to share some of that joy with our fellow West Virginians,” the First Lady said in a news release following Wednesday’s event.
The ornament was created using a white opalescent glass base, crushed glass in four colors along with hand cut glass eyes, nose and a red tongue.
Buckner said she started working on the ornament in June.
“It’s very time consuming to bring a realistic image to life. It is about 2.5 hours a head from start to finish,” she said.
Babydog’s face has a lot of wrinkles too, Buckner said.
“It is a very detailed face, so the more lines in the face itself, the more pieces and of course for my timeline I had to simplify that,” she said.
The ornament is finished with a red velvet ribbon for hanging and a wooden bone-shaped tag, made by West Virginia artisan Sam Laxton, with a special Christmas greeting from Babydog.
“This year’s artist, Amanda Buckner of Amanda’s Glass Art, has created a beautiful piece, and we are proud to continuously work with the First Lady to promote artists from across the Mountain State,” said state Arts, Culture and History Curator Randall Reid-Smith in a statement.
Every year, the First Lady selects a West Virginia small business owner to design the state ornament. Buckner said she’s grateful to be recognized after all she’s been through during the pandemic.
“It is a struggle as you can imagine just being a small business, but in art it’s even harder to sustain work year-round, and we’ve survived the pandemic,” she said. “I’m just so thankful and blessed to be in business today.”
Every year @WVFirstLady selects a West Virginia small business owner to design the state ornament. The artist this year is Amanda Buckner of Amanda’s Glass Art in Kanawha City. pic.twitter.com/OGo0B4RRGo
— Carrie Hodousek (@CarrieHodousek) November 16, 2022
There are a total of 500 ornaments, priced at $33 each. The ornament will be released in stages due to the intricate design.
The first 120 ornaments are currently available for purchase at Tamarack Marketplace in Beckley at the state Culture Center in Charleston.
Later in the holiday season, the remaining ornaments will be released.