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.
Born of one woman's idea to create a store that is completely kid-centric and appeals to children, Simply for Giggles is a cheerful, welcoming place that’s filled to the brim with necessities for being young and bearing young. The stock crosses all categories and includes—but is not limited to—furniture, toys, books, bedding, strollers, diaper bags, bath supplies, and slings for wearing a baby or letting a friendly Yeti wear a baby. The Hedgehog Family hanging mobile ($29.99) gives children an alternative to counting sheep; the Snuggle Buddy Lambie ($23.99) gives them a sheep to snuggle; and Sandra Boynton's Bath Time book ($6.95) gives them information about bathing sheep. Simply for Giggles carries Little Twig organic baby-pampering products, as well as JuJuBe diaper gear.
Accomplished photographers at Clix Portrait Studios capture elegant portraits of families, children, and beloved pets in their sophisticated studio. During sessions, the photographers put subjects at ease to lure out genuine smiles, natural-looking poses, and honest opinions about cheese. In addition to snapping classic-style portraits, the informal sessions provide the opportunity to customize shots with props or the inclusion of a favorite pet dressed in its favorite floppy hat. At the studio, clients can migrate from photo shoot to design center to turn their images from pixels to photo books, gift cards, and other portrait-bearing crafts with optional assistance from staff members.
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.