Meet Milwaukee’s Slug and Snail Artist

Sarah Hansen makes miniature mollusk sculptures and other nature-inspired ceramics.

Photo courtesy of Sarah Hansen

Spring is Sarah Hansen’s favorite season, and it’s not just because of the fresh flowers and warmer weather – it’s also because of the slugs.  

“I remember the first time I held a slug,” says Hansen, an artist who makes nature-inspired ceramics. “It was just your average Wisconsin slug in the woods – you know, brown and black – and I held it in my hand and it curled up and looked at me.” 

A similar moment walking in the woods inspired Hansen’s signature slug and snail sculptures. She came back from a hike and started hand-molding a slug, and her friends in the studio gushed about how cool the new piece looked. “It just made them really happy,” she says. 



What’s Brew City’s best? We’ve picked 16 of our favorite Milwaukee craft beers for a March Madness-style tournament, but it’s up to you to pick the winner! Will it be bright and hoppy? Dark and malty? A zippy lager? Every one is worthy of the title; who will claim the sudsy crown?

Now, well over 1,000 sculptures later, people in Milwaukee’s makers market scene know the ceramicist behind Hidden Roots Studio as the “slug lady.” But her product can be polarizing. “It’s either all in, ‘They’re amazing, they’re cool, they’re awesome,’ or ‘Ew, why are you making those slimy things? I don’t think that’s a good idea, they creep me out,’” Hansen says. Many of the dissenters are gardeners, who spend this season tormented by the plant-munching mollusks.  

Beyond the friendly designs, what makes Hansen’s work stand out are the intricate illustrations. She uses an uncommon technique of drawing with underglaze on her ceramics to give them a hand-painted look.

Aside from the miniature sculptures, Hansen also sells planters, spoon rests, trinket dishes and more in her signature outdoorsy style at  

Art by Sarah Hansen, Hidden Roots Studio; Photo courtesy of Sarah Hansen
Art by Sarah Hansen, Hidden Roots Studio; Photo courtesy of Sarah Hansen


This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine’s March issue.

Find it on newsstands or buy a copy at

Be the first to get every new issue. Subscribe.



Alli Watters is the digital and culture editor at Milwaukee Magazine. That means that in addition to running this website, she covers art, entertainment, style, home and more for the magazine. It also means she doesn't sleep much.