For most of us, now that we’ve made it through the worst of the pandemic, we are getting on with our lives as normally as possible. This holiday issue of Walton Living highlights the spirit of Christmas and puts a little focus on that old man himself, Santa Claus. He’s known and loved by children around the world as they anxiously wait for his visit every Christmas Eve. People collect them, admire them, display them, give them as gifts, etc. Everyone knows who Santa Claus is and everyone loves Santa.
Telia Fleming Hanks is also just as much in love with Santa and sees him every day as she creates her magic with her collectable Santa figures.
Hanks, a native of Atlanta grew up and lived in DeKalb County most other life and after marrying her husband Mark, moved to Loganville in 1998.
“Mark and I wanted to pursue a lifestyle in a more rural atmosphere we both longed for,” Hanks said. “Both of our professional and educational backgrounds are in the graphic art fields.”
Hanks creates Santa replicas and when asked what drew her to this, she replied, “I have always loved Christmas decorations, and especially those that remind me of my childhood. As a long-time Santa Claus collector, I also collect vintage Shiny Brite ornaments, glass bead garlands, tinsel, and of course old fashioned Santas.”
She went on to explain, “They need actually not be old, but I’m picky that they need to at least look old to make it into my vast Santa Collection.”
And her collection is vast. Hanks’ creations are all one of a kind and amazingly beautiful. Asking her where her ideas come from she explained, “I made my first Santa in 2016 for a friend after being inspired by photos in several books I have about antique Christmas decorations and collectibles. I especially admire the very old German/European type and strive to imitate the same attention to style and detail in my own unique, handmade Santas”.
Hanks went on to explain why they look so authentic.
“Keeping with old traditions, I use the best German glass glitter, real sheep wool for beards, and aged tinsel and various vintage trims. Each 16-inch Santa Claus is accessorized with my handmade miniature ornaments, toys, tiny books, and some are even accompanied by my own needle felted sculptured animals — deer, teddy bears, dogs, et.”
Along with the needle-felted creatures, Hanks also takes commissions for custom, individual dog sculptures. They are made by using different types of sheep wool, stabbing the wool by hand thousands of times with special needles to form the shape.
Hanks says, “Great pains are taken to realistically replicate a beloved pet in miniature that the owner can keep forever.”
Hanks’ art and sculptures are so very detailed, the next question came easily when she was asked how long takes to make one of her pieces.
“This is a question that I’m very often asked,” Hanks said. “I honestly have never kept track, as every Santa and dog is unique. I will say the dogs take longer to create, but I love making them. My kitchen island is my work space and there are always several of these projects going on at the same time. I may dabble on one as I pass through the room, or maybe spend hours at a time working on just one. Once a face or expression I’m working on begins to come to life, I lose all track of time.”
This year Hanks has said she also will be offering a few smaller inspired Christmas figures, such as angels or children in holiday situations. No two will be alike, just like the Santas.
Telia Fleming Hanks has been a dog illustrator/artist by profession for almost 40 years selling her own line of dog merchandise, wholesale and retail, as well as a vendor at the AKC dog shows.
“For me, dogs are a life-long passion, both artistically and in life.”
Hanks’ talents are many. She is a true artist in all areas.
To see and purchase some of her Santas, you can find her work at Hodge Podge Antiques, located at 600 S. Broad St., Building C200, Monroe.
For more photos of her work, such as santas and life-like animals, you can pick up a copy of the latest Walton Living Magazine at The Walton Tribune offices a 121 S Broad Street in Monroe.