Romantic Homes

What follows is an article that appeared in the May 2004, Mother's Day edition of Romantic Homes magazine.
Mom and I were very proud of it. The only problem was they printed the wrong phone number - so much for our 15 minutes of fame!


Objects of Whimsy
by Elizabeth Rose

Cindy Hoddinott-Lester and her mother, Lou Hoddinott run their successful ceramics studio, Whimsical Bliss, with the seriousness of girls playing dress-up and the levity of adults who have become best friends. With persistence, and a bit of nudging from a guardian angel, they now have a dream career designing the feminine things they love - decorated tea sets, lamps,and other fanciful creations. Along with father Bud Hoddinott, who can make a lamp out of anything, their playful approach to creativity is truly a family affair.

Referring to themselves as "Bakers of Fine Ceramic Confections", mother and daughter delight in re-creating decorations from wedding cakes and antique lace in clay. The "bakers" favorite place to share their exquisitely crafted work is a display room and impromptu tea salon they've created in Cindy's home. The fantasia of delicately ornamented pieces that greets visitors to their tea parties has been known to inspire a chorus of oohs and aahs that can be heard across the room. Their first ceramic pieces had been tea sets, so the tea party theme was a natural. "It was the kind of work we wanted and could not find." Cindy says. Lou continues, "We both love frilly, feminine things. A little lace and ribbon is good. More is better." And more sweet decoration seems to be just what the doctor ordered for their ever-growing list of customers.


Both women studied art, but didn't pursue it as a profession. Lou had married Bud when she was 19 and spent the intervening years raising her family. Cindy nurtured her art in her spare time, but supported herself by working in the travel industry. When Lou's mother, Agnes Lange, became ill, Cindy moved back to Southern California to help care for her grandmother. After Agnes passed away, Cindy was on an errand when she noticed a ceramics studio and then considered taking a class. Before too long their "lark" had become a magnificent obsession. What's more, they were getting a little "help" in the design process.

"My mother used to do this," Lou recalls. "When I was nine, she used to call me in and show me how to make leaves and flowers in clay. I didn't give much thought to it at that age. Now, when I get stuck I think 'How did you do that? Guide my fingers, ma' Suddenly, we're rolling up lilies and roses, things I've never done before. I know it sounds like something out of the Twilight Zone, but she's been on our shoulder the whole time guiding us through this. It was only within a few months after she passed, this doorway opened up for us."


Bud Hoddinott got into the burgeoning family business when Cindy asked him to make a floor lamp from an old dress form. Bud obliged and soon started wiring up their creations as well as creating a few of his own. The now electrified toasters, vintage hair dryers and glowing toys started piling up so he joined the enterprising mother/daughter team by founding his own lamp company, Hodd Lights. Cindy laughs,"Mom and I have a running joke that if either of us stands still for too long, he'll make a lamp out of us!"

"My creativity and ability to trust myself comes from my parents," Cindy notes. "Both are very creative and instilled in me that I could do anything I tried. We have always been very close. They are truly my best friends." Indeed, the many inspired creations of this close-knit family reflect exuberance delicious enough to bring a smile to the gloomiest face.