Cobane lends her talents for Lake Orion ornament

To say Margaret Cobane lives for Christmas might be an understatement.
The Clarkston artist is a self-proclaimed “Christmas nut” who celebrates a bit of the season year-round by using her talents to create unique Christmas tree ornaments. This Christmas she is the artist behind the official Downtown Lake Orion santacicle ornament.
“This is my eighth year of making ornaments,” said the Warren native. “I was always artistic when I was growing up. I did portraits when I was a little kid.”
Cobane studied commercial arts at Macomb Community College and spent seven years doing figure illustration. Through her work as a commercial artist, she met her husband Russell, who also shared the vocation.
“He became a wildlife artist after computer graphics moved in,” she explained. “We’re pretty much freelance artists now.”
Cobane’s talent was passed down from her parents, and she said everyone in her family can draw. She recently formed her own company, the CobaneWallace Group, along with family member Richard Wallace and her husband. The company offers hand-painted and blown glass Christmas ornaments, and will soon include a wide range of gift and accessory products such as cards and dinnerware.
Cobane got her start in the ornament industry after pairing her talents with businessman Stan Aldridge of Olde World Canterbury Village.
“Someone asked me to paint Santa Claus for a show Russell was in,” she said. “I met (Aldridge) and he was looking for someone to do ornaments. I said ‘How about we work together?’ That lasted for seven years.”
Cobane’s ornament creations range from traditional Santas and snowmen to Christmas flamingos and mermaids. Asked if she had a favorite design, Cobane said it would be difficult to pick just one.
“I like them all, they’re like little people to me,” she explained. “Some are serious subjects, but most are whimsical …they’re meant to make people feel good.”
Cobane gets her best creative ideas when she is sitting quietly in the favorite room of her house, listening to classical music.
“I go into the right brain,” she said. “I might be gardening and I have to run and write it down. I have sketches on napkins.”
She created 250 ornament designs while working with Canterbury Village and has 45 designs so far for her new company.
“I give them four views and where to raise it up (on the sculpture). I can see three-dimensional very easily in my mind,” Cobane said. “I give them all they need for the sculpture.”
After the sculpture is created, photos are sent back to Cobane for critiquing.
“The whole process from start to finish takes about four weeks,” she said.
Cobane got the idea for the Downtown Lake Orion ornament through her love of Santas.
“I love Santa and I paint Santas,” she said. “I wanted to get real creative with all the finishes. His beard is meant to look like an icicle.”
Cobane, who comes from a German-American and Serbian heritage, said Santa Claus is really a part of German-American folklore.
“He represents a sense of giving,” she added.
Cobane and her husband share their talents with their daughter Kelly, who lives in Grand Blanc and is a talented drawer and photographer in her own right.
“She also does creative writing, poetry,” Cobane said. “I have two grandsons, one is five and one is two. The oldest one likes to paint…the youngest one doesn’t know yet.”
Cobane’s mother was a painter and Cobane remembers playing with modeling clay from a very young age with her three siblings.
“That’s pretty much how we played,” she said.
Margaret Cobane will be on hand to sign her ornaments in Downtown Lake Orion on Nov. 29 at the Lighted Village Welcome Center at 38 S. Broadway. Signings will start at 10 a.m. and go until 12 p.m.; then from 2-4 p.m.; and finally from 5-7 p.m.
A tree lighting ceremony will be held at the Children’s Park Gazebo from 4-5 p.m.; and Santa Claus will be there from 5-7 p.m.
To purchase the Downtown Lake Orion ornament, which is a handblown glass Santacicle, with a commemorative gold metallic disc take saying “Downtown Lake Orion,” go to online, or visit Jacobsen’s in Lake Orion (693-8383). The ornament is available in limited quantities for $12 each.
Margaret Cobane has a website at