Meet the Maker - Beenatree Creations
Beenatree Creations was so named because every item was once – well – a tree. This month we caught up with owner and creator Jan Mikula in between stints at Pokolbin’s Handmade in the Hunter Markets to find out how he got into creating such cool stuff.
HVMag: Hi Jan – thanks for taking time out to chat. Tell us a bit about yourself.
Yep, that’s me. You pronounce my name yarn (Jan), and I’m married to an amazing woman, Anna. We live in Warners Bay, with two Leonbergers (Henry and Lucy) and unfortunately were one of those couples that couldn’t have kids. (Editors note: a Leonberger is a giant fluffy dog!)
How did you get into woodworking and running a market stall?
I’ve been in sales most of my working life, which comes in handy when running the market stall. I honestly never thought that I would make this my full-time job as I only got into woodworking to give it a go and see if I could make some cool stuff, but it’s been one of those things that I regret not trying sooner. I make a range of different items, everything from timber earrings to bottle openers, spoons, butter knives, bowls, resin eggs and vases. Oh yeah, I also make wombats!
We’ve noticed that you have an actual wombat ‘modelling’ with your Wombat creations – is there a story there?
The wombat carvings were something that just happened. My mother-in-law knew that I liked wombats and sent me a picture of a carving she had seen. I hadn’t started carving at that stage, so I thought I would give it a go and put my own spin on it.
I mostly use camphor laurel as the colours in the wood are amazing, and I get a lot of it from a sawmill up north that works with landcare clearing of farmers' properties and planting native trees. The response to the wombats was a bit overwhelming, especially after I donated a couple for fundraisers to ACT Wildlife after last years bush fires. They took some photos with a wombat that one of the careers was looking after, ‘Wilbur’, and that little guy honestly saved me during COVID. I started getting orders from all over the world, particularly America, where I ended up selling to 22 states! It has been a fantastic learning curve, with a few visits to the ER, but it’s one I’m happy to have found, and it’s one I am sticking with!
What do you like most about the Handmade in the Hunter Markets?
When deciding what to make for the markets, I try to put myself into a customers shoes. If they were walking around a market, what would make them stop and want to buy? A lot of what I make is unique and not something you can readily get in a homewares store. I also think people are moving back to buying handmade products and enjoying meeting the maker and talking with them about what they do.
You’ll find Jan (pronounced yarn!) at Handmade in the Hunter Markets, in the ground of Kevin Sobels Wines on Broke Road. Upcoming market dates are: April 17+24 and May 1+8+15.