Written by Cheryl Cottrell-Smith
The pieces that Jenna Hamler, jewelry designer at The Owlery, creates are far from ordinary and anything but boring. Inspired and influenced by nerd culture, her creations are the kind that start conversations and ignite fond memories from your childhood days. Jenna Hamler’s designs are more than just jewelry. They are small pieces of evocative art. Her work is truly unique, one-of-a-kind and completely unforgettable.
Name: Jenna Hamler
Business Name: The Owlery
Has your inner geek always been drawn to art and creative design?
YES. I love nature, books, Nintendo, cats, and internet memes. Nerd culture has a huge influence on the things I create.
How did you first discover your talent for jewelry design and creation?
I consider it more of a hobby that has gotten way out of hand. I had no choice but to start selling it, as jewelry began taking over my whole house.
When did you begin designing jewelry?
A few years ago, I started putting a couple of pieces together after having one of those “I can do that!” moments after getting sick of paying high prices in stores for unique items. I love DIY stuff and creating things with my own hands.
How did you come up with your business name? Is it inspired by Harry Potter?
Although I am personally in love with the idea of having an owl deliver my mail, I drew the name from a few sources and life experiences. I helped raise parrots and other birds for many years and the love of birds stuck with me from then on. There is also nothing that is more captivating than spotting an owl in the woods.
What is your inspiration for your unique designs? How do you keep being inspired?
I like weird stuff. I love the mystery of a message in a bottle or the nostalgia of up-cycled rubber dinosaur toys. I like drilling holes in random things and hanging them from a chain or gathering buttons and macaw feathers and gluing them to a bobby pin or ring. My inspiration continues to grow when I see someone gasp while clutching a necklace hung in my booth. The excitement of a memory being clearly shown on a customer’s face gets me every time.
How do you create your pieces? (E.g., choosing materials, design development)
I like random stuff. I like using old toys or collecting things from nature. I source some of my materials from all over the world, but sometimes it’s nice to wear something from your own backyard or childhood as well. Things like that feel more personal and more real to the individual wearing it.
Who do you imagine wearing your designs?
It’s really weird to think about someone out there wearing something I made. I think I would be most excited to see Daenerys Targaryen [from Game of Thrones] wearing something I designed for her.
What are you working on right now?
I’m waiting for the dandelions all over Edmonton to seed so I can put those in a bottle and string it onto a chain. I am probably the only one in the city that benefits from our constant weed problem.
Where do you showcase your designs? How do you market your work?
I sell my stuff at the Southwest Edmonton Farmers’ Market, the St. Albert Farmers’ Market, and On the Spot Pop Up and Creative Edmonton Pop Up Markets. You can also find a small selection of my jewelry year round at Gracious Goods Café.
What are your plans for the future?
Practice. Practice. Practice. Brainstorming new ideas and having lots of adventures collecting supplies, building new displays and connecting with local Edmontonians in the hot (SHORT) summer sun.