Want to make sure you don't forget any important dates in 2024? Well, you could always scribble them on a notepad or store them on your phone. But if you're a really creative type, you could do what Anita Guzik-Miller does: put together and photograph imaginative displays celebrating the holidays, starring her favorite collectible figurines.In Anita's case, those figurines are by Madison, Wisconsin's Ceramic Arts Studio. From 1940 to 1955, the Studio led the nation in the manufacture of figural giftware. During that time, almost all of the 1,000 different figurines released were the work of principal designer Betty Harrington.Harrington's designs ran the gamut of figural possibilities, including childhood favorites such as 'Peter Pan' and 'Cinderella.' There were folks from other lands, including entire delegations of Dutch and Asian figures; nods to theatrical, musical, and dance performers; and a wealth of adults, children, and animals from a variety of eras. Holidays, however, were an area Harrington rarely explored (the sole exception is the 'Santa & Evergreen'). That's where Anita Guzik-Miller of California stepped in. Avid Ceramic Arts collectors, Anita and her husband, Charlie, have traveled from their California home to Madison each August for the 'CAS Collectors Convention.' A favorite convention annual activity is the 'On Display' contest, in which attendees set up small displays featuring CAS figurines in various settings. Inspired by the contest, Anita's utilized a multitude of the figures to celebrate the seasons and holidays of the year. Betty Harrington's quartet of children, 'The Four Seasons,' was the starting point, with each posed in a suitable setting. Anita's fully decorated and furnished three-dimensional environments are created by hand and specifically scaled to the size of CAS figurines. 'Placing Betty Harrington's creations in a seasonal background is a great way to bring them alive in a new scenario. There are two ways to make CAS holiday photos. In both cases, you'll start by researching pictures of holiday scenes that fit the theme of the holiday you want to celebrate. Print out the picture in a size consistent with the CAS pieces you'll be using,' explained Guzik-Miller.'The easiest method is to simply place your CAS 'performers' as you'd like them, against the background picture you've chosen. Make sure the perspective is right, then take the photo. The second method is a bit more time-consuming, but worth the effort. This involves either staging your CAS figurines with appropriate three-dimensional props against the selected background, or placing them in three-dimensional dollhouse-like settings you've created to fit the specific holiday theme. With both methods, I've found that lighting with minimal shadows works best. Then, crop and contrast to the best quality. Attention to detail makes all the difference in bringing your displays to life. That, and having fun!,' she concluded. Plenty of that fun Gusik-Miller mentions comes in determining which figurines can be repurposed to represent a specific holiday. Certainly, more than one romantic duo in the CAS inventory could reasonably illustrate 'Valentine's Day' (Anita selected 'Lover Boy & Willing Girl'). But what about 'Father's Day?' Here, 'Pioneer Sam' (described in the CAS catalog as a 'quaint, homespun type') stands in for Dad, literally 'bringing home the bacon' to his family, portrayed by other CAS characters. And, with no 'Columbus' in the CAS lineup, 'Cinderella's Prince,' in his Renaissance-era togs, makes an admirable stand-in on 'Columbus Day.' Thanks to their great variety of costumes and poses, Ceramic Arts Studio figurines proved highly adaptable to the new assignments.Designer Betty Harrington once noted, 'when you visualize something, and you kind of feel it's 'you' almost, you have a fairly definite idea of what you want to do with a figure.' Anita Guzik-Miller's holiday visualizations gave her a 'fairly definite' idea of what could be done with Ceramic Arts Studio figurines. The result? A calendar of visual treats to be treasured year after year (much more fun than scribbling dates on a notepad).Full information on Ceramic Arts Studio and its collecting club can be accessed by visiting www.cascollectors.com and www.ceramicartsstudio.orgPhoto Associate: Hank Kuhlmann.All Photos by Anita Guzik-Miller and Charles Miller, except as indicated.Donald-Brian Johnson is the co-author of numerous Schiffer books on design and collectibles, including 'Ceramic Arts Studio: The Legacy of Betty Harrington.' Please address inquiries to: firstname.lastname@example.org.