Lynn A. Norton is an artist who, since 1991, has sculpted nearly all of the Star Trek starship ornaments that have been produced by Hallmark for their beloved and bestselling Keepsake Ornaments line.

Norton sculpts and prototypes original patterns for ornaments and toys from his personal home studio. His process remains the same as always. He starts by making detailed drawings and then employs engraving tools to hand-carve the ornaments from synthetic wood. Though Norton technically retired back in 2006, he continues to sculpt Hallmark’s Star Trek Keepsake Ornaments. As he told author John Peterson for the book Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments: The Inside Stories from the Artists Who Create Them, “I’d like nothing better than to sculpt starship ornaments until my fingers fall off.”

He lives in Leawood, Kansas.

What else can you tell us about the ship you’ve created?

I imagine the ship I’ve designed to be a science vessel that is capable of exploring the galaxy beyond the range of existing Federation craft. The name Bellwether is defined as “one that serves as a leader or as a leading indicator of future trends.” Elongated nacelles house an experimental Metawarp propulsion system. Upon accelerating to 99% light-speed (in normal space), the Metawarp engines open a traversable wormhole in which the ship can transit. At its destination, the USS Bellwether is designed to separate along the longitudinal axis and become two, autonomous exploration vessels with duplicate systems and capabilities. The ship was commissioned in 2366.5 and is intended to exist in the era of The Next Generation. Its explorations will likely result in “first contact” with new life forms, so I thought it would be ironic to render the ship with a cigar-shaped profile that resembles classic UFO sightings on twentieth-century Earth. Due to the time dilation effects of cruising near the speed of light, the USS Bellwether has not yet returned from its first mission.

How quickly/easily, or not, did the concept for this piece come to you? And how long did it take from start to finish to complete?

The concept for my starship design has been developing for some time. Many years ago, it was confirmed that a few of the Hallmark Star Trek ornaments I’ve sculpted were used as props for filming episodes of Voyager and Deep Space Nine. With that in mind, it occurred to me that maybe I could design a ship of my own. And so I did. The sculpture of the USS Bellwether starship required 435 hours to complete.

Does Star Trek have any special significance for you as a franchise? 

Well, Tina Hacker and I worked together during the development of the 1991 Hallmark Star Trek ornament and when we married in 1997, at our wedding celebration, we displayed the USS Enterprise ornament on top of our cake as a symbol of our collaboration.