Sacramento creatives are a bunch of crafty innovators who see possibilities in everyday objects. They transform raw materials into your new favorite coffee mug or blend fragrances that capture the essence and beauty of California’s natural wonders. Whatever your aesthetic, whether you’re looking for squishy new throw pillows that show neighborhood pride or cute artwork of dancing buffalo ballerinas to brighten your baby’s nursery, these local artisans create handmade home goods to make your space a place you love to live.
Meg Myers Glass
Glass artist Meg Myers remembers that when she was a little girl, the kitchen table acted as the ubiquitous craft, dinner and pretty much “everything” center in her household. One day, Myers’ dad showed her and her sister how to make a couple of simple, stained-glass candleholders, a practice he had picked up to impress their mom.
Decades later, that day around the craft table proved to be a valuable lesson as Myers leaned into her glass-working skills during a crossroads in her art career. It’s a decision that’s since brought her much success, with more than 6,500 Instagram followers and orders reaching as far as Australia, Japan and Germany.
Customer favorites include Myers’ 3-D glass terrariums that house succulents or insects and can be hung on walls. Her abstract suncatchers in forms like hands and lips are also in demand, casting cool shades of amber, blue and green. But it’s her water prisms that really shine a light on her true talent of brightening up a room.
“When it hits the sun, when it really catches right, it casts a big, really juicy rainbow in your house,” Myers says. “Every time that I see it in my house, I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s so good.’ It makes me feel like, no matter what, if I see it just for a second, it’s just so beautiful.”
She especially loves seeing photos of rainbows bathing her customers’ dogs and cats. It’s those little moments of joy she hopes to bring to homes across the world through a simple craft taught to her around the everything table years ago.
“They’re like these weird little therapy objects, especially over the past few years, and also since we’re all at home all the time,” Myers says. “It’s like this tiny moment of joy that is so beautiful, and maybe even fleeting because it goes away with the sun moving. But it’s not for nothin’. We gotta find those little moments whenever they come.
When Phill Moskalets and his wife married in 2015, they needed a dining table but weren’t taken with the variety sold at big-box stores. So Moskalets decided to build one himself. He started reading articles and watching videos about basic woodworking and joinery techniques. He dug into his parents’ garage for bare-bones tools and, over the course of three months, he built a beautiful dining table that continues to host family dinners to this day.
“I actually still have that walnut dining table,” he says. “After that, I kept going. I wanted a bed, so I built a bed—and then started buying tools.”
Chances are, you’ve seen Moskalets’ handiwork, as he’s created tables, chairs and reception areas for local businesses like Localis, Jam Baby, Faria Bakery, Canon and Mast Coffee Co.
Besides commercial pieces, Moskalets has handcrafted ergonomic desks for pandemic WFH customers, along with stunning coffee tables, cribs, dressers and bookshelves. He sources most of his materials from Hughes Hardwoods in Rancho Cordova and from Urban Wood Rescue, a company that takes fallen trees and sells them to woodworkers and artisans like Moskalets.
“Anything you need out of wood, I can make out of wood,” he confidently says. “The most amazing thing to me is when I pick up my materials and they’re flat boards, or rough and all warped out of shape—taking those, and shaping them into an actual product. I just love that. There’s so much satisfaction in standing back and looking at your work and thinking you were able to create that with your own two hands.”
Madame Macramé Designs
A hobby spurred by the pandemic that eventually evolved into a small business: Olivia Ziter runs Madame Macramé Designs and sells handmade, 100% cotton fiber art for your humble abode through Etsy or Instagram.
Originally from Vermont, Ziter moved to California in search of more creative opportunities. With an affinity for bohemian-inspired home goods, she decided to make her very own macramé pieces to brighten up any space.
So she began with everyday plant hangers, then branched out to produce baskets and drink coasters with little tassels. Ziter also makes decorative, dreamcatcher-like pieces that hang on wooden dowels or found driftwood her father sources from Vermont.
“If there’s something people want and they want to work on it with me, I’ll do it. I really like to try different things,” Ziter says. “It’s just so relaxing and peaceful and you get something out of it.”
An avid animal lover and vegan, Ziter also volunteers at local area sanctuaries and has donated macramé art to raise money at raffles and benefits. Macramé ties into every aspect of her life.
“I macraméd a cow to donate to a sanctuary for an auction. It pushes me to make more than just a plant hanger, but something that’s more personal to who I am,” Ziter says. “It’s so versatile and it’s not perfect. It’s knots and string. It’s not like knitting, where it’s really precise. It has all sorts of leeway, so you can do whatever you want.”
Inspired by their personal conversations, shared experiences and cultural identities, Alejandra and Luis Magaña are the creative hands behind Echeri Ceramics.
The couple collaborates with small businesses such as Camellia Coffee Roasters, Beast + Bounty and Franquette, making unique small-bites dinnerware that’s easy to wash and comfortable to use.
“I’m really fortunate that we’ve been able to do so many collaborations with small businesses and restaurants,” Alejandra says. “The community always surprises me. There’s something really nice about how artistic Sacramento is. It’s very supporting and very embracing.”
Besides producing a variety of ceramics for the hospitality industry, Alejandra and Luis make pieces that are both useful and adorable, like their double-handled Muñecas mugs with hand-painted doll faces. “You could actually use this thing to start off your day,” Luis says. “I think that’s the best way to use our stuff. Allow it to be part of your daily ritual.”
Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, Sadie Dunaway found dead leaves and other forgotten foliage that nature was no longer using during her walks in the forest. She would bring those pieces of vegetation back to her house before turning them into one cohesive yet random creation.
It became the foundation of her current specialty: preserving floral bouquets from weddings, celebrations and funerals. She dries each flower, vine and leaf, then arranges them into a beautiful art piece that’s housed in either a shadow box or an open frame.
“I’ve always been passionate about reusing things that would otherwise be discarded,” Dunaway says. “I was noticing how many flowers were being tossed after people buy them for all sorts of occasions. So I just started preserving them and drying them.”
She receives the bouquets pre-dried from online customers or dries them herself by hanging them upside-down in her home out of direct sunlight. Once they’re dried, she assembles the crisp flowers into vintage-looking frames she finds at thrift stores, carefully covering every inch of white space.
“I’ve been super privileged to preserve these memories for people. Over so many years, flowers have been used as communication for so many different relationships, whether someone is in a hospital or sick or for celebrations and baby showers,” Dunaway says. “Flowers are quite sentimental to so many people and they’re worth preserving. It ties people back to a memory, so it’s not just a flower. These pieces can bring someone back to a specific time. It really moves you from the inside.”
Good Honey Handmade
Honey sweetens Tonja Wilcox’s custom ink and watercolor paintings of California cities and Sacramento landmarks. The sweet nectar acts as a binder when Wilcox mixes pigments for her intricately detailed portraits of the most beautiful Victorian and Craftsman homes in the area, or realistic depictions of buzzing insects and cute animals, all brought to life with a little help from the honeybee.
“Just the flow of [watercolor] and the way the water and the paint moves, it’s always a little different, so every original piece really can’t be duplicated exactly,” Wilcox says. “There’s always an element of surprise with the way the paint reacts to the paper.”
Not only does Wilcox take custom orders, but she also sells affordable prints on her website or at the Midtown Farmers Market on Saturdays, so everyone can pick up a piece of art for their home.
Popular prints include the California picture map, a sweet outline of the Golden State with illustrated landmarks such as Disneyland and Lake Tahoe. The Sacramento skyline is also a crowd pleaser.
The comfort that art adds to a space keeps Wilcox inspired. She says, “I get a lot of comments when people are looking at my things, that it makes them smile, it makes them feel good.”
Thistle and Fig
Lighting candles was therapeutic for candlemaker Nina Saferstein at different moments in her life. First, as a form of therapy when her father suddenly passed away when she was 13. Then, during the pandemic, when Saferstein started making candles as a means to pass the time creatively, getting lost in various comforting scents as the wick slowly burned.
Through that, she launched her own company, Thistle and Fig, bringing a little bit of California’s outdoors into people’s homes.
“The Yucatan candle is one of my favorites. It has palo santo, white sage and cedar. I think cedar is really grounding and earthy. It’s like a breath of fresh air and it’s really relaxing,” Saferstein says.
A lot of Thistle and Fig’s candles are inspired by California’s natural beauty. Pacifica, with notes of sandalwood, lavender and lemon, is one of the company’s top sellers. All of Saferstein’s container candles are made with soy wax and have a hemp wick, and the fragrances are derived from essential oils.
“It’s so special when you’re doing a pop-up or an event and someone comes up to you that you’ve never met before, and they’re like, ‘Oh, my God! I love your candles!’” she says. “It’s one of the best feelings to have created something that has brought someone else joy.”
I am the Artist Phoenix
A full-time artist, Aimee Phelps shapes and solders beautiful stained-glass suncatchers that feature colorful portraits of beloved pets.
From her backyard workshop in Oak Park, she starts by drawing a pattern of someone’s favorite Fido, using a photograph for reference, before cutting out intricate glass pieces by hand, carefully sanding each down and soldering them together using lead-free materials.
“A lot of the orders that I get are for pets that have passed,” says Phelps, who’s created pieces for customers as far away as New York and Georgia. “People want something more personal to memorialize their pet.”
Phelps also has a knack for woodburning and can create custom portraits of just about anything. All it takes is an idea and a consultation with Phelps to make your ideal glass or wooden art piece a reality.
“I love to create, and if something that I made brings joy to somebody else, it makes me happy,” Phelps says. “When I make something for somebody, I get so excited to give it to them. I’m excited all the way through making it. The energy that I put into it is excitement, joy, care and love. When somebody gets that, and they can feel it, it’s so much brighter.”
In their original children’s book, “The Little Lemon That Leapt,” mother-daughter creative team Karen Sanders and Hannah Howerton celebrate individuality with positive messages and cute characters that break barriers, like the Sporty Sloth or the Ballerina Buffalo. After the book was published in 2015, children and adults started asking for merchandise featuring their favorite quotes and beloved animals.
“My grandpa inspired the message of our book because that’s how he raised his kids—to just embrace people who are different and to never make fun of anyone for being different,” Howerton says. “We always target the kids who stand out, and what makes you stand out is always what makes you incredible adults.”
Now, Sanders and Howerton operate the online retail store Lionel’s Place, named after the man who inspired it all. With the book’s popularity, Howerton, the graphic designer and creative director, and Sanders, the writer and visionary, started selling everything from throw pillows to decorative 8-by-10 prints for nurseries featuring their brand’s message, “Choose Weird!” Since then, they’ve expanded beyond the book with designs that celebrate California as the “Land of the Weird and Wonderful” with tributes to cities and landmarks throughout the Golden State. Other goodies to add personality to your home include felt Oxford pennants, large banners with curly writing, quirky refrigerator magnets and more.
“Just the idea that something that came out of our brains is out there in the world is a fun thing that you don’t think about when you’re creating it,” Howerton says. “But when you have that happen, it’s just like, ‘Oh! I’m a part of the conversation.’”
Alicia Kerr says she’s always been the crafty type, dabbling in jewelry making or learning how to sew on her grandmother’s classic machine. But once she started putting neighborhood pride on throw pillows of all sizes showcasing communities such as East Sac, Curtis Park, Alkali Flat and more, orders started pouring in.
As she expanded her designs to include any neighborhood or state a customer desires, she reached beyond the West Coast with online orders and expanded into local retailers such as DISPLAY California in Oak Park, Harvest Home in Sonoma and The Feathered Nest in Loomis.
“By my third or fourth holiday season, I just went for it. I had like 100 different neighborhoods between the different designs and was like, ‘Wow, I’m in it now!’” Kerr says. “It just took off.”
Kerr’s website is chock-full of her original throw pillow designs, which come in a cotton linen blend with a down insert. You can also customize your own throw pillow to add a little extra comfort to your living room, outdoor lounge space or bedroom.
“One of the things I say is love where you live. People making their house a home is really important to me,” Kerr says. “I want people to get the most out of their homes. I feel really lucky to live here. And it’s just been a fun squishy little business.”