July 2022 Issue
Photography courtesy of T.R. Love, T.R. Media World
Hilton Head Island, SC
Artist, Designer, Owner of Hawley Collection
Sculpting, painting and designing
Married to my wonderful Husband, Hank. We have four grown Children: Dan, Karen, Kirstan and Dion, and 6 amazing grandchildren: Harrison, Cam, Stella, Grace, Van and Hayes.
When and how did you discover your talent?
From my first box of crayons! I always wanted the box with 64 colors, to buying a 25-pound block of clay, I have always had a burning desire to create! Raised in the Pacific Northwest, my earliest influences into the magical world of art were my very gifted family, especially my sister. A third grade substitute teacher and a very flamboyant high school art teacher, who encouraged me to try new forms of art. I am surrounded by some amazing artist friends who keep me inspired everyday.
My love of Christmases past and present was a contributing factor to the creation of our Hawley Collection Heirloom Santas, elves and other creatures. It was actually here on Hilton Head that I first decided that creating and marketing our Santas would be a rewarding business venture. The “Festival of Trees” committee asked for a donation in 1995, and I created a one-of-a-kind 3-foot tall “Timberline Santa.” The response was amazing. The next year we opened a showroom in Atlanta, and now we ship to fine gift stores and Christmas shops all over the world. I think my love of everything Christmas gave me the inspiration to create our Santa Clauses.
I love the challenge of building, dressing and creating each and every piece. It allows me to use my other artistic loves—sculpting and painting. I have created over 2,000 Santas, and I also love creating custom pieces for our clients. Recently I designed and built a golfing Santa for a client in Pinehurst, NC, three Santas for three sisters from their mother’s wedding dress, and a basketball referee Santa for a daughter using her father’s black and white referee jersey. In addition, my creations include numerous college and NFL Santas for adoring fans, a Harley Davidson Santa for my husband and specialty martini Santas for friends. A grandmother's handmade quilt and an old fur coat from an elderly aunt turned into beautiful heirloom Santas to be passed down to future generations.
What makes you a Lowcountry Original?
From sculpting Loggerhead turtles to Gullah Life, every day on this beautiful island is an inspiration!
My paintings and sculpture pieces reflect my love of the area’s marshes, beaches and people. I have lived here for 27 years and still can’t wait to wake up and see what every new day has in store. Perhaps my paintings and sculptures reflect my Lowcountry influence more than my Santas, but still many of them have the beach and island themes.
What do you hope people “get” out of your Art?
I hope everyone finds something to relate to in my creations. If they have selected one of my Hawley Collection Santas, maybe they will have memories of wonderful family gatherings and reminders of the laughter and excitement of children expecting a visit from Santa. If it’s one of my paintings or sculptures, I hope they feel the passion and love I put into every piece. Some of my pieces are whimsical and some are serious, but I hope it all touches them as it has me when I create the work.
What’s something unique in your house/studio that more than likely no one else has?
This would be my 6-foot tall Santa Claus, decked out in his red outfit with white fur trim. His eyes are closed with glasses on top of his head. He spends a great deal of his time sleeping in a chair in my studio, or making holiday visits to Society of Bluffton Artists Gallery on Calhoun Street! Occasionally, at first glance, people try to strike up conversations with him, only to realize he’s not to be disturbed!
When someone finds out what you do, what questions do they always ask you?
Usually people want to know how long it takes me to create a Santa, and do I sculpt the faces myself. The answer is tricky, depending on the materials on hand and my creative juices! Yes, I sculpt each and every face, sew each outfit and add all the extras. My husband builds the bodies and ships them to their final destinations.
If you had to take a semester of classes, what class would be at the top of your list?
Anything art related, but definitely portrait painting; I love people!
Can we see your work and meet your Santas?
On Hilton Head, my Santas and other creatures can be seen during the holiday season at Pretty Papers in Village at Wexford, or visit our website at www.HawleyCollection.com. My paintings and sculptures may be viewed at Society of Bluffton Artists, Bluffton; Alexander’s Restaurant, HHI; and the Hilton Head Library.