It’s that time of year again when we start thinking about gift-giving, and I personally love to give homemade gifts. (But not necessarily crafted by myself, as I don’t have the talent!) For years, my hubby has tried to promote a Christmas gift theme: “If you don’t make it or bake it, I cannot take it.” The idea, of course, is to make Christmas a time to celebrate the true meaning of the season. Exchanging meaningful handmade gifts, instead of buying gifts that people don’t need or want, seems like a good thing to do!
Lucky for me, several years ago, I met Jenny Hanna, who is not only a nature photographer and artist but also happens to be a driven conservationist. She thrives on recycling and repurposing everyday objects so that they don’t end up in the landfill. You would be amazed at the level of talent she demonstrates creating exciting new uses for items you might otherwise throw away. Take a sack of deer corn, for example. These are typically cut open and thrown away once the corn is used. But for Jenny, the corn sack is just the beginning, and she turns otherwise useless trash into utterly delightful tote bags. The material is sturdy, and the tote bag is perfect for many uses.
Those of you who have been following me will know that I have a passion for anything about deer. I love using antlers on my fall dinner table, and of course, incorporating antlers into my Christmas decor. When I harvest a buck, I typically take the antlers to Jenny’s place, and her hubby is pleased to cut them for me. This year, I am designing a fall wreath for my door, and antlers will be in the design.
Jenny is not a hunter but appreciates why people hunt and lends a creative hand in repurposing the antlers. Her specialty is designing useful items made from antlers, such as cabinet pulls, buttons, key chains, jewelry, and much more. I must say that her antler-handled oyster knives are top choices for many gift-givers—they’re real crowd pleasers!
But this is only the beginning of the fantastic original handcrafted items that Jenny makes. She crochets pocketbooks, baby sacks, and beanies, and is especially proud of the mats she makes out of grocery store plastic bags for the “displaced” population.
I wanted to know how all this creative energy got started, and Jenny was happy to fill me in. “I have always been an outdoors girl and have fond memories of fishing with my grandfather, and roaming the woods looking for animals and climbing trees with my brother. We even made our own hut using the thatching method, which was designed much like a lattice pie crust. I inherited my artistic side from my mother, who could make anything out of anything, and she did just that.” Repurposing was a way of life in Jenny’s family, and she learned so much about this as a child spending time with her grandparents.
Jenny attributes her drive and determination to time spent with her grandfather, Jim McCall. She remembers him as a man who started with nothing and became a self-made millionaire, even though he didn’t have a high school diploma. His hard work and willingness to go the extra mile for his family was a great message and one that still inspires Jenny to this day.
A passionate conservationist, Jenny says her biggest pet peeve is people who leave trash on the beach, especially cigarette butts. “Please, please, pick up your cigarette butts, I find them on the beach littered like shells. As a matter of fact, they were number one on the list of trash collected on International Coastal Cleanup Day in 2017!”
Jenny is living her dream of turning her art into a thriving business after years of working in the corporate finance industry. When she isn’t stalking the perfect photo of a wading bird in the marsh, you can typically find her in her shop, making something beautiful. She is most proud of her work when she gets excellent feedback from her customers.
So if you are looking for an unusual handmade gift, you can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. If you have antlers from a harvested deer, feel free to contact Jenny, and she will help you with a custom piece!