Atlanta’s Masayuki Sasaki is an accomplished pianist and composer. He’s also an award-winning painter. But the classically trained artist feels most connected to his modern handmade pottery.
The founder: Sasaki moved from his native Japan in the late 1980s and graduated with a BFA in graphic design from Western Kentucky University, where he was first introduced to the potter’s wheel. In 1996, he moved to Atlanta. For the last 10 to 12 years, pottery has been his focus.
The company: Masa Sasaki Ceramics is a small home-based studio in Atlanta.
The goods. The collection, in various colorful designs and glazes, includes tea candle jars ($56 to $86); tea candle tower set ($225); mugs ($26 to $36); lidded jars ($32 to $48); plates ($26 to $76); plus, salt and pepper shakers ($36 to $46).
Favorites: Tea candle jars. The intricately carved, one-of-a-kind pieces create unique and dazzling display when lit.
What’s new: Experimenting with under glazing and slip painting techniques on black mountain clay.
Where to buy: www.masasasakiceramics.com and in the Atlanta area, at the Signature Gallery (thesignatureshop.com); The Beehive (thebeehiveatl.com); and the Spruill Gallery (spruillarts.org) in Dunwoody. Also at the Festival on Ponce (April 11-12) and the Inman Park Festival (April 24-26).
Cut & paste
Many of us would love to turn our hobby or special skill into a business. That is what designer and illustrator Nick Hanzlik did 17 years ago when he started R. Nichols.
The founder: Hanzlik discovered his talent for designing colorful paper collages in the sixth grade in Washington, DC. Many years later, he left a high-pressure job with a major retailer and remembered the satisfaction he felt working on that school art assignment. He decided to turn his cuts and pastes into collages and his collages into a line of greeting cards.
The company: Based in Orlando, R. Nichols is known its for witty and sophisticated stationery items, such as greeting cards ($4.50), note cards ($15 to $22 for a set of eight to 10) and other fun gifts, like luggage tags ($6) and tote bags ($26).
Best-selling category: Any product with a pet theme.
Unexpected sellers: Luggage tags ($6) and Gratipads ($12), a 100-page pads where you write down what you are grateful for that day.
Claim to fame 1: Custom design projects for Fresh, Neiman Marcus, Target, Walt Disney World, The Metropolitan Opera, Barney’s, Veuve Clicquot, and Gump’s San Francisco. Also his illustration of the “French Women Don’t Get Fat” series of books by Mireille Guiliano.
Claim to fame 2. In 2013, partnered with noted fragrance designer Gary McNatton to create a candle collection. Oprah named the candles ($45) one of her favorite things in 2013.
Where to buy: www.r-nichols.com. In the Atlanta area, check Erika Reade (www.erikareade.com), 3732 Roswell Road. In Orlando, visit the R. Nichols Shop, 2910 Corrine Drive, in the Audubon Park Garden District. Before or after you shop, head down the street to the East End Market for eats, coffee, fresh juices and craft beer.
Ann Ladson Stafford trained as a pastry chef. Then she turned to jewelry. Now the South Carolina metalsmith applies her skills to sculptural table and home goods.
The founder: A Charleston native, she studied pastry at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley, and worked in several Charleston-area restaurants. Later, she took metalwork classes at Penland (N.C.) School of Crafts, plus the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts and the Appalachian Center for Craft, both in Tennessee. She works out of her home studio in Charleston.
The goods: Contemporary-styled utensils, small bowls and candlesticks. She makes jewelry for weddings and other special occasions.
Materials: Brass, copper, gold and silver.
What’s popular: Spoons. The four-inch baby spoons ($100 and up), finishing spoons ($65 and up) and a tasting or soup spoon ($225 and up).
Big break: A runner-up in the home category in Garden & Gun magazine’s Fifth Annual “Made In the South” awards.
What’s new: Wall hooks ($30 to $80) and drawer pulls ($30). Curtain rod hardware is in the works.
Where to buy: www.annladson.com
Best of the South
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