Profile: Desiree Hajny

she has been creating wood sculptures of mammals since 1985

Story by Carol McDermott
All content © San Juan Publishing Group, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Desiree Hajny[Blue Hills, Nebraska] I’m a slow thinker,” said Desiree Hajny, “and the trees of the northern woods grow slow.” That match of woodcarver and even-textured timber results in unique, exquisite artwork on display in 48 states and six foreign countries.

Desiree HajnyFrom her studio Desiree and husband Bernie have elevated wood carving to a higher plane. “It was hard getting wood carvings into galleries at first,” she said. But that was before the awards started pouring in: 24 Best of Show, 250 First Place and 18 People’s Choice all attest to the quality of Desiree’s work.

The process begins with the wood. Desiree “looks for something” among the imperfections, blight holes, knots and grains. She marks the block for Bernie to cut away with his bandsaw. He does some more generic shaping of the piece, then Desiree carves the details. Bernie helps with wood burned accents. Desiree does the fine wood-burning details and coloration.

Mill Creek Studios receives the carvings, then re-creates them in resin. Once a mold has been made, a blend of fine resins and pure white alabaster or alabaster and porcelain powders are catalyzed and poured into it. The chemical reaction creates intense heat, which causes the mixture to harden and expand into every crevasse and detail of the mold. That makes an exact duplicate of the original. Acrylics are applied by hand to finish the pieces.

Desiree discovered her wood carving talent while teaching high school in Nebraska. “I got into wood sculpture in a ranching community where the kids weren’t into art. Many in the classes were kids who wanted an “easy credit” and didn’t want to exert much effort. I lured them in by introducing woodcarving using pocket knives. I’d never done it. I was all bluff, but got their interest. For me, it became an addiction…almost.”

Desiree HajnyWith the birth of son Jeff, Desiree left teaching and devoted more time to her art. She designed T-shirts, made greeting cards, signs, posters, whatever. She devoted herself to woodcarving full time in 1986. She has written numerous articles and authored six books on carving techniques. Her books and videos are marketed on four continents. Desiree has been featured in numerous national and international shows and publications. Add to her portfolio the commissions she completed for the Disney Animal Kingdom theme park and MGM in Florida.

Desiree has been creating wood sculptures of mammals since 1985. Her work has appeared nationally and internationally. She has instructed seminars in 34 states and three Canadian provinces and has written seven books (currently all available on Amazon.).

What’s the best part of creating her art? Desiree said, “It’s when someone gets just as excited with a piece as you were when you did it.”

The slow-growing linden, walnut and cherry trees of Wisconsin’s northern woods are the perfect medium for Desiree Hajny.

Apple Shed Gallery, Cedaredge
Alaska Shop, Vail

24 Best of Show
150 First Place
18 People’s Choice

Disney Animal Kingdom theme park
MGM in Florida
National Forest Products Association

Big Cats: An Artistic Approach, Amazon
Mammals: An Artistic Approach, Amazon
Carving Wolves, Foxes, and Coyotes: An Artistic Approach
Carving Deer and Other Mammals: Patterns and Reference for Realistic Woodcarving
Carving Small Animals: An Artistic Approach
Carving Caricature Animals: An Artistic Approach