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artfully arranged



In a second, unplanned career, Sandy Whitaker turned her lifetime love of plants and flowers into a business.

The artist: After thirty-two years in the dental field in Mississippi, Whitaker and her husband, both avid hikers who love to canoe, moved to Georgia in 2006. While visiting Chattanooga in 2011, she saw a beautiful pressed botanical and thought she would try it.

The company: Botanicals by Sandy started in Canton in 2011. It offers a variety of sizes and species of framed botanicals (custom pieces too). Whitaker uses unique recycled frames as well as new mouldings.

What’s popular: Hydrangeas.  Also horizontal and vertical vines, like confederate jasmine and kudzu (original botanical are $125 and up).

Other favorites: Prints ($25 to $40) and notecards (six cards for $20).

The process: Each piece is collected and then, with large wooden pressers, pressed using the heat and pressure method. The piece is then artfully arranged and adhered to acid-free mat board. Whitaker identifies each piece with the common and scientific name in handwritten calligraphy before treating it with two coats of a UV protectant.

Claim to fame: Meeting the late Ryan Gainey, the internationally known Atlanta-area gardener and designer, at Scott Antique Market. He became a friend and a mentor.

Where to buy: In Atlanta, at Scott Antique Market, South Building: Sept. 7-10 and Oct. 12-15.



knock on wood


Atlanta wood master Michael Courts designs unique custom furniture to suit any style. And space.

The company: Mcmeubel started in 1996 in the Netherlands, where the self-taught craftsman grew up. In 2005, Courts moved to Atlanta, where he had family, and restarted his company a few years later. Meubel, Dutch for furniture.

What’s popular: Custom tables and vanities ($3,500 to $8,000), plus floating cabinets ($2,500 to $5,000).

Other favorites: Floating shelving units ($1,000 to $4,000) and desks (starting at $1,500).

Big break: Meeting and designing custom work for Cara Cummins, an Atlanta architect and partner in TaC studios.

Work seen in: Several Atlanta restaurants, including Upbeet, Yeah! Burger, Minora, and the original El Taco.

Where to buy: Contact Courts at, 404-218-5939 or on facebook: mcmeubel Michael Courts.

glass act


 In his blown work, North Carolina artist Hayden Wilson takes a contemporary twist on traditional Italian glassblowing techniques.

The artist: Wilson, who lives and works in Asheville, grew up in nearby Yancey County, where his father is a glass artist. In 2007, he earned a degree in sculpture from the University of North Carolina in Asheville.

After graduation, he began working for glass sculptor Alex Bernstein, whose father Billy Bernstein taught Wilson’s father glass blowing in the early 1980s. Wilson then began creating his own blown pieces and working as studio manager at the North Carolina Glass Center in Asheville’s River Arts District. The center hosts about 20 glass artists who teach classes and display their work in the center’s gallery.

The goods: Blown glass work ranging from drinking glasses to decorative vessels and lighting. Also one-of-a-kind glass sculptures in cast and fused glass.

What’s popular: Thumb-notch stemless and tipsy glasses ($36 for one, pictured above) and the larger or Murrine work ($475 to $1,200), including colorful bottle (pictured below), vases and bowls.

Fun (or unusual) requests: To remake lights for an antique chandelier in Asheville’s City Hall.

Where to buy:

Glass Bottle


special servings

gratitude with handles

Instead of collecting the Italian pottery she loved, Alpharetta’s Lisa Rae Palmer set out to make her own.

The artist: As an art history major at San Diego State University, Palmer fell in love with Italian artwork and pottery, especially after a visit to Italy. She earned a teaching credential in art education and is in her 15th year as an elementary school art teacher in Alpharetta, GA.

The company: Alpharetta-based Lisa Rae Designs started in 2015 when Palmer started experimenting with platters and bowls for a version of the Empty Bowls Project ( at her school. Outside of school, she started experimenting with other ceramic platters and dishes with an old-world look.

What’s popular: Platters ($59 to $79) and trinket bowls and dishes ($15 to $30). During the holidays, bakeware and bowls ($45 to $75) and tree ornaments ($16 to $18).

Other favorites: Large, personalized wedding platters ($99). Also rolled-handled bowls and platters ($110 to $150) and scalloped platters and bowls ($49 to $79).

Where to buy: In area stores, including All Inspired Boutique in Johns Creek and Sis & Moon’s in Alpharetta.



skip the paper

Dot and Army

Georgia’s Jennifer Zamudio started sewing cloth napkins years ago as a creative outlet. And a practical one.

The owner & inspiration
: Originally from California, Zamudio worked as an art education teacher for more than 10 years in the San Diego. On the side, the eco-conscious mother sewed cloth napkins to use at family meals and as gifts for friends. Fifteen years ago, she and her family moved to Georgia.

The company: Dot and Army started in 2009 in Brunswick. The company, named for Zamudio’s maternal grandparents (Dot and Army), produces reusable table and kitchen linens, including napkins for all occasions and elastic bowl covers ($14).

What’s popular: A set of 10 seersucker napkins ($50). The 18-inch napkins can be ordered in any combination of colors, but many customers order a mixed set of colors, including khaki, red, gray, blue, orange, green, navy blue, aqua and yellow.

Other favorites: The Unpaper Towels (set of 12 for $40). Use (and reuse) instead of paper towels.

Big breaks: Being part of the Food52 team ( and featured in Southern Living’s Christmas Gift Guide in 2016.

Where to buy: and in Atlanta at Steve McKenzie’s, 999 Brady Ave NW, (


table art


Tennessee ceramicist Leanne Moe-McQueen crafts a simple yet sophisticated line of dinnerware designed to make even an everyday meal look good.

The artist & owner: Grew up in North Dakota and graduated in 2009 with a degree in ceramics from the University of Tennessee and started working as a potter in small shop om an old brownstone in downtown Maryville. Three years later, McQueen moved next door to a larger space and opened a teaching studio. In 2014, she founded McQueen Pottery.

The company: McQueen Pottery in Maryville, Tenn., makes hand-formed dinnerware with a modern shape and fresh look.

What’s popular: Five-piece place setting ($190). A set includes a dinner, salad, and bread plate, plus a pasta bowl and mug.

Other favorites: Bud vases ($24), often in a grouping of three.

Fun requests: Working with chefs, including Sean Brock, Cassidee Dabney and Joseph Lenn, on dish collections for their restaurants.

Claim to fame: Selected by Garden & Gun magazine for a 2016 “Made in the South Award.”

Where to buy: www.mcqueenpottery.comBandT_20150926_0005 (1)

the candle buzz


Texas native Christine Flores knows bees are important to the planet — and her family business.

The company: The Beeswax Co, based in Dripping Springs (a suburb of Austin) started in 1997. It was bought by Flores’ father (John Austin) in 2010. The company produces 100 percent beeswax candles and bulk beeswax from selected growers.

The background: Christine, who runs the company, took an interest in honey bees at an early age. Her great-grandfather was a vegetarian cattle rancher, who grew organic gardens and raised bees. His legacy remains. Christine uses the same simple beekeeping tools, which he used to harvest his honey, to hand finish the candles.

What’s popular: Pillars in various sizes ($15 to $200) are burnished by hand to give the candles their unique finish.

Other favorites: Tea lights ($7 to $24) and standard votives ($12 to $36) for parties and weddings. Also hand-poured container candles ($16 to $38) for travel or as a decorative touch in a space.

Where to buy: