by Sarah Grant
Handcrafted in Iowa
Sticks origins date back to 1985 when Sarah Grant, an abstract painter and college art instructor, was commissioned to design a wooden nativity set for Better Homes & Gardens Decorative Woodcrafts magazine. At the time, Sarah's artistic background was solely focused on drawing and painting linear surfaces, and this project challenged Sarah to incorporate her artistry onto a 3-D surface.
On a weekend excursion to a friends antique store, Sarah came across some etched wood furniture from the twenties and thirties. She was inspired. Sarah's father, John, assisted her with carving the wooden structures for the nativity set, and she experimented with etching her designs onto the wooden set. She found this technique was an effective way to delineate her designs.
Decorative Woodcrafts magazine purchased one of Sarah's nativity sets,and her mother, Carol, proudly claimed one of the 'practice' sets to display in the family home. Sarah was soon inundated with requests from family and friends for nativity sets and small holiday items. She began a small company called 'Origin Art Forms' to supplement her income.
In December of 1991, Better Homes & Gardens featured a story about her company 'Origin Art Forms' which solicited a large national response and an influx of orders. Sarah incorporated the company as Sticks, Inc. in 1992, and the company has evolved to offer a distinctive line of furniture, accessories, and object art. Each piece is handcrafted and designed within Sticks award-winning design studio in Des Moines Iowa by a staff of nearly 150 artisans.
The Sticks style is very distinctive; at once painterly and playful, resonating with a quirky exuberance. A small imperfection here and there is all part of the work's beauty and charm. To be a Sticks artists is to learn the art of being wholeheartedly and unapologetically yourself without ever taking yourself too seriously. And to understand that each piece is a collaborative labor of love for all those involved, with equal respect for everyone's contribution at every stage of design & development. To this day, every Sticks piece is created with the same lighthearted, life-affirming flavor & philosophy as Sarah's very first piece. After all, it's all about storytelling: Your story.
One of Sarah's favorite sayings: Do the right thing almost every doggone day. was burned into the first mirror that she ever sold. And that sentiment has become a favorite among sticks collectors. "Some people have suggested we take the almost out of it," Sarah muses, "and make it about doing the right thing every day. But that's not the point." Sarah laughs as she recalls the time her daughter, Rebecca, accused her of being a perfectionist. I said, "Me? A perfectionist?" And she said, "Mom, you know what your version of perfectionism is? You live in perfect chaos." And you know what? She's right.
We don't do practice designs on paper first. I train my artists to hold the idea in their heads and create as they go, which gives the finished product that energy. ~Sarah Grant-Hutchison~View All Items By Sticks Custom Design Center