At Glazed Expressions, a large stock of pristine canvases await a painter's touch. Owner Laura Riegel and her knowledgeable team of artists encourage creativity during studio sessions, when visitors spend time designing and painting their own works of art as experienced and helpful staff members offer advice on the best painting techniques. Alternatively, fused-glass projects meld shards into kaleidoscopic pendants or clients can decorate pottery items such as vases, picture frames, and animal figurines. A BYOB policy enhances a festive atmosphere within the studio, keeping the mood as bright and colorful as the decor.
Sticks sprung from humble origins when, in 1992, Sarah Grant began carving ornaments and candlesticks from birch, poplar, and driftwood in a small studio in Des Moines. As her work began to attract national interest and demand for it grew, Sarah enlisted the aid of other local artists and expanded her inventory to include handcrafted heirloom-quality furniture, whimsical sculptures, and intricate keepsakes.
Today, the artists’ work is showcased in more than 100 galleries across the country. Their installation projects have even decorated the walls of Blank Children’s Hospital, the Animal Rescue League of Central Iowa, and the student center at Iowa State University.
Sticks artists can often be spotted by the shores of local rivers, gathering driftwood for their work. They assemble the wood into custom-designed tables, beds, and armoires within their spacious, light-filled studio before painting them with colorful, whimsical designs, from smiling suns and moons to lush landscapes. The versatile artists even take their tools and paintbrushes to homes, businesses, and underground mad-scientist labs to craft custom art installations and interiors.
Since 1932, Lumbermen's family of businesses have aimed to fulfill their motto of bringing quality to life—expertly cutting stone for projects including the face of The Village of Ponderosa, PF Changs, Scheels, Fleming's, and a tiny fireplace for Barbie’s upscale dream house. Their most recent store, Fireplace and Stone Center, specializes in hardscaping materials as well as stone veneers for home and commercial façades. The center’s vast display area also boasts an array of outdoor-living merchandise, such as outdoor fireplaces, kitchens, and stylish patio furniture.
Executive Exteriors treats walls to fresh color, decks to a darker stain, and exteriors to brand-new vinyl siding. Technicians take great pains to prep surfaces prior to painting, like bulls sharpening their horns before chasing down the Spanish men who named a Chicago sports franchise after them. They lay down drop cloths to protect from errant paint drops and use tape to produce crisp lines. The staff robes walls in multiple coats for an even, consistent color and lends redecorative efforts to commercial properties and fraternity houses.
Ticket stubs, needlework, oil paintings: the experts at The Great Frame Up have handled them all, turning them into wall-ready hangings. Their selection of hundreds of frames, matting options, and varieties of glass makes it easy for clients to find the right colors and textures to complement their artwork. In addition to custom framing, the professionals offer conservation framing for paintings with monetary value or used napkins with sentimental value. Three-dimensional objects are also a specialty: The experts can slip hockey pucks and musical instruments into acrylic cases or send clients home with one to keep empty in anticipation of finally acquiring that unicorn horn. Inside the store, customers can peruse a selection of ready-made frames and framed art work.
When In Lieu of Flowers owner Kara Jund's parents passed away, she found solace in a remembrance lamp. "It was the single most helpful and meaningful gift I received. It gives back to you—it gives off this glow and warmth."
Now, Jund strives to provide similar solace for others with her collection of handcrafted remembrance lamps. She selects each design based on its symbolic meaning. Butterflies symbolize celebration, for instance, and hummingbirds symbolize resurrection. She's happy to draw upon her knowledge to guide newcomers around the shop. "If people come in and need to have their hands held, we’ll go through everything—symbolism, style, and color."
Once customers have honed in on their ideal lamp, Jund will carefully gift-wrap it and include a personalized card that highlights the lamp's symbolic meaning. "I tie the spirit of the light with the spirit of the person who passed away. Then people understand, and they can tie that warmth with the spirit of the person they're grieving."