Ms. Sticks, Life Story on a Stick

Every person has a story, but how often is it really shared visually? 

Debi prepares the wood for a story

Debi prepares the wood for a story

 In 1996, Debi Hitter, known as Ms. Sticks, hit upon a novel way to display an individual’s  life stories when she was hiking in the woods of North Carolina  collecting branches.  A friend showed her how to do woodburning, and that opened a door into a new art form for Debi.

Each stick is custom designed

Each stick is one-of-a-kind

She began crafting “Life History Sticks,” walking sticks decorated with the stories of people’s lives…the names of offspring, place  born, hobbies and favorite sports teams…pictures of the sentimental details of that person’s life.  Her sticks are often given as gifts for hallmark occasions such as 50th birthdays or retirment parties.  But not always.

She created one Life Stick for a man who had 12 children.  Many of his life’s momentous occasions took place in a car… closing a bridge when his RV broke down in the middle…losing the family’s luggage off the top… getting stuck in a blizzard and having to leave Mom and the kids in the car to go for help.  Imagine all this captured on a walking stick!

Eagle Scout Sticks commemorate a landmark

Eagle Scout Sticks commemorate a landmark

One of Debi’s popular items is her Eagle Scout Sticks on which she engraves all the badges a young man has earned, along with other reminders of his youth.  Her sticks are also used by cancer survivors to inspire healing, stories which Debi shares on her website.

Each of the Life History Sticks is personally customized and typically take 2 to 3 weeks to complete, but she has a large assortment of one-of-a-kind pieces at her shows as well.

Debi invites everyone to come down to the Canandaigua Art & Music Festival to be a part of the artists’ and musicians’ lives and worlds and to  have a great time!


  1. Debi’s work is not only unique it is personal. Nice to see that she and her work is noticed. I have several of her natural sticks and have given history sticks as gifts…

    Deb is the real deal…

  2. Mary,

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on Debi’s work. I will be sure to share your comment with her.

  3. I just received a walking stick with a lifetime of memories. Birthday gift from my family of seven kids and great wife Sandy.

    It reminded me of days as a newspaper reporter for Syracuse Post-Standard and Herald Journal, where I worked as a sports report/columnist, reporter, editor and even copy boy — all while getting two degrees from Syracuse University.

    A long-forgotten memory etched on the stick was of me belting a kid who mistreated my brother and made some nasty accusations that earned him a sock in the nose!

    The visualization of a long list of events and activities is surely a keepsake. Way to go on this idea, Debi.

  4. Larry –

    Thanks for sharing. I loved the story of you socking a kid that picked on your brother – makes me really want to see that stick. Congratulations on your birthday!

  5. Thanks for the life stick mailed to me in St, Petersburg, Fl. in January 2010, for my 80th birthday. What a pleasant surprise as I guessed from the unopened package, that it was a fishing pole. ????!!!! A job very well done and much appreciated!

  6. John –

    Thank you for writing, and congratulations to you on your 80th birthday! Here’s to many more!

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