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.
In Stuart Alexander's perfect world, every garden is a wonderland. Blades of grass form an undisturbed carpet of green, flowers burst with intense color and fragrant smells, and trees provide shady havens for weary travelers. Now, after spending years as an event planner and designer, Stuart works his artistry outside as part of 5th Room Landscapes. Working with seasoned landscapers and garden experts, Stuart's team oversees all facets of domestic plant life, from designing and installing gardens to maintaining creations throughout all seasons yet to come. Their spaces are as usable as they are beautiful, encouraging homeowners to spend more time barbecuing in the summer, leaf-peeping in the autumn, and protecting the yard from territorial hockey players in the winter.
Sears Portrait Studio's original photographers committed their first family photos to film more than 60 years ago, and the studio's digital photographers continue the tradition of taking high-quality portraits at more than 1,000 U.S. locations open today. Each professional photographer completes a rigorous training program before they begin composing and shooting digital photographs, adopting styles ranging from formal portraits to passport photos. Their all-digital system lets customers access their photographs online, where they can add graphics before ordering prints for collages, greeting cards, mugs, and broken-mug collages.
Originally opened in 1927, the Genesee Theatre slowly deteriorated over the course of the century until its closing in 1989. But starting in 2001, a $23 million cash infusion from the city allowed 120 volunteers to restore the theater to its Gilded Age splendor. Its elegant trappings include authentic wall fabrics, an exact replica of the original marquee, and a 2,200-pound chandelier that gently spotlights the grand lobby and every audience member passing underneath to show how everyone is a star if you really think about it.
The thread scrubbers at Dixie's eradicate stains and rejuvenate garments with the help of environmentally friendly processes and materials. The devoted frock fresheners invigorate apparel with a locally produced starch—made from Iowa corn-starch—that is water soluble, clear, and tastes great with a buttery topping. Future businessmen can prepare interview ensembles by cleaning a suit ($12.35) and shirt ($2.25) or go casual by donning a pair of slacks ($6.25) and their favorite business poncho. Fashionable femmes can enrobe themselves in newly freshened blouses ($6.40), skirts ($8.95), and dresses ($12.85). Large-scale hamper harvests can be divested of dirt with wash and fold laundry service ($1 per pound), whose by-the-pound pricing makes it an ideal way to refresh cellophane sweaters and tin-foil tuxedo jackets.
The year was 1902, and young Edwin Thomas Meredith was about to get married. His grandfather had a special nuptial gift to give: a handful of $20 coins to buy a controlling interest in the family newspaper, the Farmer's Tribune. Attached to the paper's debt-filled finance sheet was a note that said "Sink or swim," so E.T. Meredith strapped on his proverbial scuba flippers. Just over a decade later, subscriptions for Meredith's debut magazine Successful Farming were up from 500 to more than 500,000. In 1922, the company launched Fruit, Garden and Home—renamed Better Homes and Gardens in 1924—and a publishing powerhouse made its national debut.
More than a century after its founding, Meredith Corporation remains rooted in the old-fashioned ideals that E.T. held to on his wedding day. Their line-up, however, has evolved to suit the times. Alongside Better Homes and Gardens, Meredith publishes the wellness-oriented cooking magazine Eating Well, regionally focused magazines such as Midwest Living and Country Life, and the Spanish-language monthlies Siempre Mujer and Ser Padres. Of course, they stick with the stuff that works, too. Successful Farming is still going strong, and Talkin' Bout Talkies only folded last year when silent pictures made a comeback. Rooted in the past, but always reaching toward the future, Meredith's magazines keep old traditions alive and vibrant.