Beyond the Wall Plaque - Learn More About a Special Project

Beyond the Wall Plaque - Learn More About a Special Project

The process behind a special project with Plantpeddler!

Sticks is known for thinking outside the box with our handcrafted folk-art designs. We have had many opportunities to tell stories for clients and their families, creating custom art in all forms. We also work with many businesses and organizations to create artwork with their branding, Sticks-style. The beauty of our artists and our production facility is that we can create structures beyond a simple wall plaque to display your logo and the importance of your mission and story. We recently worked with Plantpeddler, a plant wholesale company located in Iowa, to create artwork that exceeded expectations. We were able to collaborate on a design that provided printable artwork, functionality and a commemorative token of their long, accomplished history.

Plantpeddler reached out to Sticks, looking to commission artwork for their annual catalog cover. Each year, they collaborate with a different artist, and their inspiration for the 2024 cover was sparked by one of our large art installations in Horticulture Hall on Iowa State University’s campus. (Both owners, Mike and Rachel Gooder, attended Iowa State University and graduated with horticulture degrees!) During one of our meetings, we learned that while they needed artwork for printing, they also value and collect the art created from each catalog cover. From there, the conversation opened to wider possibilities. Because the details of wood-burning create limited design space, smaller pieces can lack detail, and a larger design space can provide a more desirable canvas for telling stories.

Cover of Plantpeddler catalog

There is a unique beauty in creating functional art that sparks conversation. That is what led Plantpeddler and our team to the final product. We started with a brainstorming session for the concept and structure, discussing possibilities and restrictions. The truth is, since we build all of our structures by hand, the possibilities are almost endless! Besides an oversized wall plaque, we pivoted towards a new idea—furniture. We discussed options for a bench or even a full dining table, knowing that if there were structures they liked, we could build it to their sizing specifications. With that flexibility in mind, Plantpeddler settled on a bar-height table with a tabletop proportionate to the size of the catalog cover. Their other request – make it easy to disassemble and pack for wholesale tradeshows. … Done! Our wood shop can handle that.

From there, it was time for our design team to work on the concept for imagery. We knew Plantpeddler wanted a high level of detail, similar to the installation at Horticulture Hall. They shared historical events, plenty of old and new photos of their family, team and buildings – and of course, the plants they wanted to feature. Michelle, one of our art directors, sorted through all of Plantpeddler’s material and sketched out a first-draft pencil drawing on the raw table. We reconvened for another call to discuss how she had come up with the drawing. With a few minor adjustments, the drawing was ready for wood-burning and, soon after that, painting!

Tabletop in progress with photo references

Tanya, a classically trained painter, took on this project in the painting department. She used the provided logo and images to color-match as closely as possible; all of our colors are mixed by hand! Our painters have plenty of experience painting pieces that will be adapted as print collateral. They know the best ways to create contrast and depth to make sure the overall piece captures the viewers’ attention. We love when our clients put their trust in our artists to use their creative judgment to pick color palettes. By the end of the painting process, our artists had created a vibrant, interesting table. Plantpeddler was thrilled, and we were given the go-ahead to have the tabletop scanned for print!

Plantpeddler catalog cover

The result of the artwork was eye-catching! The imagery depicts the evolving history of Plantpeddler’s team and greenhouses. They now have the printed version that tells their story to a wide range of their current and potential customers, but they also have the functional piece to gather around while they are on the road at conventions. This project certainly grew larger than expected; there were a lot of rich stories to tell through the piece. The early greenhouses, the passing of the keys, the introduction of robot automation ... Plantpeddler already has a long history, and there are many more accomplishments to be had; our pieces are meant to evoke conversations and create new memories for those who gather around.

Plantpeddler team gathered around their commissioned handmade table

The Plantpeddler team gathered around their handmade table at Cultivate, a national horticulture convention.

We encourage anyone who may be interested in Sticks artwork for their business or organization to reach out to learn more about larger opportunities. We take great honor in creating functional art that will move through time as you and your team’s story evolve. Call us at 877-678-4257 or email

Final product - bar height table for Plantpeddler. Features annual flowers and imagery of green houses, family and team


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  • Maggie Steinberg
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