By DANA DELGADO
If there ever was to be an ambassador for that magical place in the North Pole, Ruth Ann Jackson-Perkins would be a shoo-in.
Her heavenly spirit and boundless energy has figuratively enlightened the world by illuminating the lives of many by giving them hope, belief, and a chance to be engaged and experience success.
And by the way, this envoy is married to Santa Claus also known as Danny Perkins who is a Santa double. But wait, Ruth Ann is much more than Santa’s better half.
She is a “Red Hatter” who organized three chapters in Graham, where she was an apartment manager before moving to Liberty Hill. She organized the groups to encourage senior women to gather, socialize and attend outings together. Although, she has lived in Liberty Hill for three years, she continues her association with the Texas Red Hat Ladies.
“Some of the ladies have told me it is the greatest experience of their lives,” said Mrs. Perkins. “Whether it’s lunch at Dairy Queen or visiting a friend, you can see the joy in their faces.”
Ruth Ann and her husband were Special Olympic Coaches in Graham where they formerly lived.
“It is a huge thing in that community,” she said. “The high school even has a pep rally for these athletes and even University of Texas football quarterback Chase McCoy, who went to school in Graham, has showed up in support.”
By trade, Mrs. Perkins is an artist. Her mother had been an artist, mostly painting, and encouraged her daughter to try and do art and music. She continued with arts and crafts more as a hobby for much of her life until she got hooked on ceramics after being invited to a class by her sister-in-law.
Since 1980, she has been mastering her ceramic work and experimenting and learning new things as an artist. She currently creates a variety of ceramic wreaths in Fashenhues and has fashioned an assortment of dolls from a basic form.
One doll she named “Mystic Doll,” earned her a Blue Ribbon at the Texas State Fair and was selected in July 2013 for its craftsmanship to be on the “Christmas in July” cover of CERAKANVAS (www.cerakanvas.com), a trade publication with a worldwide circulation.
“Ruth Ann has achieved a high level of respect among her peers in the ceramic industry, and continues to turn out captivating pieces of art with extreme attention to detail and artistic harmony and balance,” stated Betty DeBarista, Associate Editor of the international publication.
Mrs. Perkins hand painted the eyes, made the jewelry from copper wire and designed and made the dress from fabric her father had purchased in the Middle East.
“My dad sent several yards of material from Iran,” she said. “At first I used the material to make curtains for a camper we had converted from an old school bus. But after I learned the material was made from copper thread and worth $100 a yard, I used it to make the dress for my doll.”
Dolls have always been of special interest to Mrs. Perkins.
“I always had a doll until I was about 13,” she said. “I got a new doll every Christmas but was only allowed to have one doll at a time so my other dolls mysteriously disappeared.
Ruth Ann remembers shopping as a child at the Ben Franklin store in her hometown of Carbondale, Illinois and being mesmerized by the feel of the porcelain dolls. That feeling still fascinates today and is one of her favorites when working with dolls.
She also crochets and has started to make fashionable cell phone holders.
Stoneware has become another area of interest and she has started producing garden pieces. She is also producing a variety of kitchenware, decals, glazed cookie jars, cameos and unique Raku pieces. So immersed, she owned a ceramics store in Ducanville at one time, but now she mainly does trade shows and special events and some holiday fairs, and is always interested in meeting like-minded people and students.
While she continues to expand her repertoire as an artist, teaching others has always been central to her own growth.
“I love to teach others,” said Mrs. Perkins. “I like to bring out the best in people and show them they can be creative and it’s good therapy. The biggest surprise is when they take it home.”
She recalls one student who took her art home and was surprised by her husband’s comment when he came upon the art piece at home. The husband, impressed by the art, thought his wife had gone shopping.
“Another lady was literally dancing with tears of joy after seeing her completed piece,” said Mrs. Perkins who has had students from age 1 to 102 and regularly works with adults who are mentally challenged. “It’s amazing and the students are always amazed.”
She has been teaching in Weatherford and Killeen and says she is willing to go anywhere there are students. Mrs. Perkins is a Certified Instructor for Fashenhues, Duncan, Mayco, Gair, Donas, Kimple, Ceramichrome and Doc Holiday colors.
Mrs. Perkins has been awarded the trade’s coveted Peggy and President’s Awards.
The Liberty Hill artist has been selected to be one of the participating artists in the “Ceramic Artists in the National Parks” project in 2014. She will be among more than 30 participating artists who believe in the preservation of the National Parks in America. Businesses are sponsoring the artists. The purpose of this project is to educate people about art in the National Parks, as well as to raise funds for the preservation and upkeep of the parks.
On Nov. 19, Mrs. Perkins received a message from Fashenhues, which named her the official new distributor for the country’s Central Region.
“I’m excited,” she said. “Being a Fashenhues distributor opens doors to my being able to teach more Fashenhues throughout the USA and opens more doors to be able to help others discover their inner ability.”
While the recognition is much appreciated, Mrs. Perkins said it is the opportunity to enrich the lives of people that is her true accolade.