PEMBROKE — Kristy Jackson is combining her love of heritage, crafts and Christmas to create memorable ornaments to pass down for generations.
“I have a very wide variety of things I like to do,” said Jackson, who lives in Pembroke.
When walking into Jackson’s home, the first thing to draw your eye is her Christmas tree decked out in feathers, drums, teepees, hatchets and pine cone patches, all handmade by her. Once you take your eyes from the tree you see a wood carving of a turtle, a large pine cone patch displayed on the wall, or Jackson herself wearing earrings with turtles — all made by her.
“I was just sitting there one day and I thought I would like to do a Christmas tree inspired by my heritage,” Jackson said. “I can basically make anything I see but I like to do my Christmas ornaments because I came up with ideas for the hatches and the tee-pee and the drums.”
Jackson started making ornaments in 2012, but she has always had a love for crafting.
“I always liked it but I guess growing up I didn’t really make a lot of time for it,” she said. “Everything I know how to do is self taught. I bought my fist sewing machine and I was like, ‘I don’t know how to use it but I will figure it out’ and I did.”
Jackson said that as she got older she used crafting as a way to pass the time but it has become more of a passion for her.
“I think everybody has their own ways to create things or to bring something to life but we don’t have to create things out of necessity. We can create things out of the joy of the making them and having them on hand or just to look at,” Jackson said.
Originality is important to Jackson, and she tries to always make sure to put her fingerprint on a creation.
“I try to stick with things that I come up with by myself just for that touch of individuality. I don’t want to go behind someone else and make the same thing that make,” she said. “In our society today everything is made somewhere else and a lot of people don’t appreciate handmade items and the time and the ability that it takes to actually go into something you make.”
With her ornaments, Jackson uses a variety of techniques, including quilting. Each ornament takes at least 30 minutes.
“It can be very tedious,” she said.
One ornament she makes is a replica of a teepee. She builds the base with skewers to create the structure and then covers it with fabric. It usually takes her 45 minutes to make. She said that she came up with the idea to add tea lights inside the tents later.
I was looking at the tree and thought ‘wouldn’t it be nice to show remembrance to lost, loved ones?,’ Jackson said.
Stephanie Locklear is a big fan of the teepees. She was exposed to Jackson’s ornaments by receiving a gift from Jackson’s stepdaughter for teacher’s appreciation.
“She puts a lot of detail in her ornaments. I know it’s very time consuming and it takes a lot of work. She’s a creative lady,” Locklear said.
Locklear said that this is the first time she has received ornaments that reflect her Lumbee heritage.
Jackson’s family doesn’t love crafts as much as she does, so that makes her the go-to person when something has to be made.
“I absolutely love Christmas and that comes from my father,” Jackson said.
At the age of 18, Jackson lost her father, but she still carries the memories of him on Christmas.
“When I was growing up that’s something we would do together. My father would sit back and direct us. ‘No, it’s got to be like this,”
She said her father would say when they would decorate. Now she is the one who is directing everything.
“I guess I would say he is the reason I do this,” she said.
Each year Jackson likes to have a different theme for her Christmas trees.
“I told my husband ‘next year we’re going to have a stain-glass Christmas tree,’”she said. “That’s a technique I’m going to have to learn but I have already bought a book of two.
“I want something that not everybody has. Everybody has elves or Santa Claus but I want something that could be enjoyed by a lot of people but still isn’t technically overdone.”
Tomeka Sinclair can be reached at 910-416-5965 or firstname.lastname@example.org