When Madison resident Cathy Halford’s youngest daughter Ashley moved to Birmingham, she took her love for Mississippi with her.
“I decided to make an ornament for her in the shape of Mississippi,” said Halford, a lifelong crafter and billing coordinator for a Jackson law firm. “I put a red heart in it to indicate Madison, her hometown. She loved it.”
Then Halford had a Mississippi epiphany. “I thought maybe other people would like to show off their hometown and state,” she said. “I was right.”
Today, she operates an Etsy business making handcrafted, state-shaped ornaments. Her husband cuts them out of wood, and Halford creates a 6-inch piece, decorating it with beads to create a mosaic.
“A red, heart-shaped, acrylic gem is placed on the hometown,” she said. “I found out that people love their state and are proud of their hometown. Some are buying them for friends and family as a reminder of their home. I also think they make a great welcoming gift for someone moving into a new area.” You can find the ornaments on Etsy under the seller name DillyDallyDiva.
If you’re a native Mississippian or know one living in another state that you think deserves to have a little bit of Mississippi hanging on their Christmas tree, you may want to check out these Mississippi-themed ornaments made by artists from across the state.
Judy Smith Bumgardner creates Mississippi-shaped ornaments in team colors. The freelance artist began selling Mississippi-themed ornaments and crafts last year on Etsy under the name CliqueCreative. Her ornaments are hand-painted with the word “Mississippi” filling the shape of the state.
“I wanted to spell out ‘Mississippi’ the way children learn to spell it,” she said.
There are three color schemes in the collegiate colors of Ole Miss, Mississippi State University and the University of Southern Mississippi. She also accepts custom color orders.
“I believe Mississippians are proud of their state, and these ornaments allow them to showcase their pride during the holidays, or all year long,” she said. “The fact that each piece is hand-painted by a Mississippi artist and not mass produced overseas makes it a real keepsake.”
Starvkille sisters Lara and Alicia Hazzard sell two lines of pottery called Dandy Doodlez and Delta Mae Pottery. Delta Mae, a more traditional line, is named after their grandmother, Mae, who always loved their arts and crafts. The sisters began crafting Mississippi shaped Santa ornaments hand-cut from speckled stoneware clay two years ago.
“Many are sold online to Mississippians who have moved away and can’t find items like this in their state,” said Lara Hazzard, “and many are given to Mississippi State and Ole Miss grads.” Their Etsy seller names are DandyDoodlez and Delta Mae Pottery.
The Mustard Seed, a nonprofit organization designed to meet the spiritual, physical, emotional and intellectual needs of mentally challenged adults, is also selling Mississippi-shaped ornaments made by their clients, or Seedsters, during art therapy.
“Each piece is about four inches tall and is covered with style and color chosen by the artist,” said Del Harrington, director of community relations. “The Mustard Seed ornaments are always a treat to give as a gift or to buy for yourself. The color and style are not only beautiful but also the work of extraordinary people. They show that Mississippi is diverse, beautiful and unique.”
Greenville native Elizabeth Blanks Tyler, manager and buyer for the Mississippi Museum of Art’s store, said they carry Donna Davis Glass ornaments shaped like Mississippi.
“They make great gifts for anytime of the year,” she said.
The work of Davis, an Atlanta native, can be found in galleries throughout the Southeast. To learn more, visit www.donnadavisglassdesigns.com.
Jackson born artist H.C. Porter has a line of Christmas ornaments with Mississippi themes. To learn more, visit www.hcporter.com.
Twelve years ago, Mantachie resident Angie Wallace Schwake had to give a gift with a Mississippi theme to someone moving away.
“When I saw a star shape painted like Santa, I just tried it on a Mississippi shape, and it worked,” she said.
She later began to sell Mississippi-shaped ornaments cut from birch plywood, sanded and painted by hand on Etsy.
“I mostly sell ornaments in the shape of all 50 states and some countries, and they are painted to look like Santa or snowmen,” she said. “I let the shape of the state dictate how the Santa or snowman will look.”
Schwake said she’s sold them all over the world.
“I hope that my ornaments show that Mississippi is full of gifted and talented people, who are creative, hard working and full of ingenuity,” she said. “At a time when so many people are without work, I am thankful to have a gift to share.
“I hope that other people can find the gift they have and use it to better their own lives and those around them. I get a real kick out of the idea that my ornaments (made in Mississippi) will hang on someone’s tree for years to come, and it all started with a 20-year-old scroll saw handed down to my by my mom.”
You can find her ornaments at www.designsbyangie.etsy.com.