If you live in Bellingen you may have spotted a fairy door or two around town. Jenny Hutchins is the creative inspiration at the heart of ‘Smallhavens’ and is very quietly sharing the ‘fairy magic’. “Fairy magic is such a beautiful way to connect with nature and inspire the imagination. And it encourages us to slow down and observe the world around us that little bit more, to notice the small details,” says Jenny.
Smallhavens evolved organically in 2015. “At the time I made a simple fairy house for my son’s best friend… she loved it! Soon I had made one for my son and was getting requests for more. So in 2015 I took the plunge and started Smallhavens,” says Jenny. “Now fairy houses are scattered everywhere, encouraging any nearby little folk, be they fairies, gnomes or pixies, to take up residence.”
This fairy ‘tragic’ needed to know more!
What inspired you to make that first fairy house?
It was coming up to my son’s best friend’s 4th birthday and I do love to give a gift I have created. So when I spied a log lying in the garden I thought ‘fairy house’! Though at that stage I was not confident enough to even use a drill, so it was a very basic house…
Have you always been drawn to the world of fairies?
I remember making fairy garden circles with flowers and pebbles and nature finds under the demountable classrooms when I was in primary school. And I was a reader of fantasy from a very early age. For me, nature and magic were always very closely connected.
Does the modern child still immerse itself in the world of make-believe?
Yes – definitely! I see so many faces light up when they walk into my stall at the Bello markets; they are instantly transported! And it’s not just the kids either – often it is the adults taking the chance to indulge in a little make believe as well…
Have you always been a creative?
Previously most of my creative passions were poured into my gardening. I studied environmental science, which has been a strong factor in my decision to create using natural and repurposed materials as much as possible and to only use recycled packaging. I also used to do wood working with my dad as a child – so Smallhavens has allowed me to bring all those areas of my life together!
Just how far have you spread the fairy magic since 2015?
I’ve had over a thousand sales on Etsy – it grew slowly to start with, but so far I’ve doubled my sales every year. Though I hope it slows down soon or I won’t be able to keep up! I post all over Australia, but Bellingen is the centre of it all – sales from my stall at the markets far outstrip my Etsy sales. (Thankyou Bellingen!)
And now you also produce exquisite fairies, fairy garden accessories and even fairy bikes using beautiful buttons and copper wire. From where do you draw your inspiration?
Everywhere of course! With wooden pieces, often the shape or grain of a piece of wood starts me off. I love to reuse materials, so I have hundreds of random bits of jewellery, wood, metal, gum nuts, stones and more, all squirreled away until I find their purpose. The Steiner tradition of natural toys strongly appeals to me, and I find myself paying attention to illustrations in children’s books a lot more these days too! My customers are a wonderful source of new ideas – many of my standard items were originally a customer request. And Instagram has also been a huge source of inspiration – it has such a strong sense of artistic community.
Any grand plans for Smallhavens?
Just to keep on growing slowly at this point – my family time is important so I don’t want to expand beyond my ability to keep a good work-life balance. What I love most about this job is that it has endless variety built in – I always love a new project and I have a growing pool of ideas to play with!
To contact Jenny on Facebook: Smallhavens