Neighborhood residents craft unique items, full of charm and meaning, for their homes

It’s all in the details. Look closely at those homes, and you’ll find special touches that tell you not only who lives there, but what they care about, how they dream and which memories they love best.

Some homes have just “got it.” Like the screen presence of an actress or the charisma of a rock star, they have that special something that sets them apart.

And at first glance, it’s not always easy to know why. After all, lots of homes have lovely countertops and nice floors. Many have handsome furniture and pretty wallpaper.

So just what separates the haves from the have nots, as far as captivating homes are concerned?

It’s all in the details. Look closely at those homes, and you’ll find special touches that tell you not only who lives there, but what they care about, how they dream and which memories they love best.

So where do you find this stuff? Well, you can bet it won’t be in a mass-mailed catalog or a one-day sale at the mall.

No, special items are made by special people, and they’re found in special places. But just because they might be harder to find doesn’t mean they’re necessarily farther away.

Here are some we found right here in our neighborhood.

***

Pillows are a great way to dress up a room, and plenty of stores sell them. But if you want something with real personality and charm, you might try Feather Your Nest.

That’s the name of Myra Haddad’s and Darla Hollingshead’s home-based company, through which they sell one-of-a-kind pillows.

The two Lake Highlands neighbors got the idea to go into the pillow business almost two years ago. You might say it was as if a light came on.

“It was July 1, 2001,” says Hollingshead. “I remember the day because the power went out, and there was nothing to do. Myra’s power came back on before mine, so I went to go visit her. And I took some pillows I was making with me.”

Hollingshead was making the pillows from old tea towels of her grandmother’s, as a way to display the keepsakes rather than keep them in a drawer, rarely to be seen.

“I took one look at them,” says Haddad, “and said, ‘You could sell these.’”

That day they decided to do just that, together.

Today the two friends make pillows of every shape and size, often using hand-made embroidered items, needlepoint and vintage fabrics. Combined with tassels and other decorative features, the results are beautiful, one-of-a-kind pillows you just won’t find in stores.

When the pair aren’t sewing pillows, they can often be found shopping estate sales or other interesting places to find more items to include.

“We put a variety of things on our pillows,” Haddad says. “Vintage jewelry, broaches or earrings, for example.”

Both with school-age children, they work on their art whenever they have a chance, among the carpools, lessons, school and other daily activities that motherhood brings.

Most of their sales are made through Market in the Meadow, a craft show and market held each fall in Lake Highlands. But Haddad says word has been spreading about their work, bringing an increasing number of custom orders.

“Many customers supply their own items to be included,” she says. “They’ll bring us an old needlepoint, tea towel, old pillowcases, whatever, that belonged to someone dear to them to be part of a pillow.”

***

Jeri Wakefield has a thing for angels. Her interest in them, though, seems to be a product of evolution.

Several years ago, she and partner Nancy Vuckovich began making crosses out of old wood they found while on vacation.

Then Vuckovich got the idea to make an angel for Wakefield out of some of the wood, in remembrance of Wakefield’s dad. She made it with some of his old tools and belongings: an old saw blade, the bird from a cuckoo clock, his old scraper.

The angel meant so much to Wakefield, they decided to make more.

The earliest angels were fairly basic, made with pieces of wood with a few items attached to them. As they continued, though, they become increasingly colorful and imaginative.

“The wood kind of spoke to us,” Wakefield says, “and it all gradually morphed into what we do today.”

What Wakefield creates today combines well-worn wood with a mix of the odd and the meaningful, sold through her company, Neat Old Stuff.

At some time or another, Wakefield has probably put about anything you can think of on an angel: a special fork, a child’s game pieces, golf items, Lincoln Logs, 45-rpm records, cut-up cans, door bells, picture frames, cigar boxes, oven timers, and lots of wire, be it the barbed, colored or chicken variety.

She often finds items for her angels at estate sales and flea markets. But the wood, she says, comes from another source.

“A huge amount of the wood comes from White Rock Lake,” she says. “We walk around with bags and pick it up. The water softens and smoothes them out, so it’s perfect for us.

Wakefield arranges the elements of an angel until she gets just the right mix. And the result is a one-of-a-kind work of art, each with a personality and almost, it seems, a soul.

“Some are very quiet and don’t really socialize,” she says. “Others are very loud and fun.”

And many even have distinct hobbies or jobs. Some walk dogs, others play musical instruments. There’s a firefighter, dental hygienist, air traffic controller, you name it. Each comes with a card, showing their name and telling a little bit about them.

Just how do they decide on the names?

“When we finish them, we just look at them, and they tell us their names,” says Wakefield.

Sometimes it seems as if they’re divinely inspired.

“It’s amazing how many times people will find an angel with the name of someone in their family, and it will have their same personality,” she says. “It’s really kind of scary sometimes, it happens so much.”

Like Haddad and Hollingshead, Wakefield makes the angels at home and sells them through craft shows such as Market in the Meadow. But the angels are so popular, she has been approached about selling them in stores.

It’s an idea that would surely boost sales. But she says it just doesn’t appeal to her.

“It’s not really about the money,” she says. “People want us to sell in shops, but we like to be with them. And we want to see them go to their new home.”

Contact info:

  • Feather Your Nest: Myra Haddad 214-553-9198; Darla Hollingshead 214-343-3667
  • Neat Old Stuff: Jeri Wakefield 214-234-9966

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