Most students in introductory stained-glass-making classes are in search of a new hobby or a fun few hours, but not Connie Beckers. In 1995, she took such a course and soon built a career around the art of stained glass and kiln-working. Now, through The Goddess of Glass, she teaches others her craft during classes that cover the creation of jewelry, coasters, plates, and transparent overalls. She’s also been known to flex her instructional muscle as a guest artist on the DIY Network show Cramped Quarters, where she taught the show’s host and contractor how to make stained-glass tiles for a kitchen in the middle of remodeling.
The Goddess of Glass also sells artwork and gifts out of a separate retail shop. Patrons can commission a custom piece, such as a stained-glass window, or peruse a collection of pieces by more than 80 local artisans. The shop’s staff can also advise clients who need custom framing, helping them to pick the proper matting and frame so that their Richard Nixon rookie cards really pop.
Within his private studio, Professional Picture Framing Association member Joe Weinbeck handcrafts elegant frames to protect oil paintings and prints. Equipped with conservation framing know-how and hundreds of frames from six different suppliers, Joe introduces artwork to new habitats that shelter the pieces from harmful UV rays and hostile eye contact. Archival-quality mats from Peterboro and Crescent give diplomas or photographs the space they need, and four grades of glass or acrylic glazing protect wandering fingers from sticky globs of paint. Joe can also showcase his talents with large-format framing for epic Led Zeppelin posters or blown-up versions of Robert Plant's braces-laden middle school photo.
Becker Furniture World boasts three table-stocked wonderlands with locations in Becker, St. Cloud (Waite Park), and Blaine, as well as a new location opening in Burnsville on Friday. The flagship branch in Becker consists of nearly 300,000 square feet, on-site restaurant, kids play area with complimentary supervision on weekends, and customers can peruse a vast selection of wares from brands such as Sealy, Simmons, Broyhill, Kincaid, Lane, Natuzzi, Rowe, and Stanley. Avoid the hardships associated with training a dog to stay still as you sit on its back by securing a new comfy sofa or dreamy mattress. Area rugs not only boost the ambiance in a domicile, but they also provide an out-of-sight space to sweep unloved Pog collections.
After shaking hands with the homeowners who let them inside, Magic Carpets' technicians immediately drop to the ground, where, after a quick nap in a sunbeam, they tuck measuring tape into every crevice and corner. These complimentary measurement sessions exemplify Magic Carpets' devotion to meticulously cut floor coverings, including HGTV’s Home Flooring by Shaw collection, with more than 500 styles of carpets, area rugs, hardwood floors, and laminates. Highly durable carpeting, such as the Fun Event line, swathes floors in more than 30 available colors and dons a foot-pleasing texture protected by a 20-year warranty. More than 200 area rugs cover up cold floors with bold, contemporary patterns. Homesteaders can also leapfrog across Easton laminate flooring, a hearty four-layered material that suits high-tread areas, or stand tall on a hickory-hued Abilene hardwood floor, which is elegant but sturdy, like a titanium top hat.
Googly eyes. Gas masks. Mannequin arms. Blowguns. Ax-Man Surplus Stores dares crafters, DIY enthusiasts, and tinkerers of all stripes to dream bigger, better, and weirder with an enormous stock of new surplus items. Each shop's collection of oddities and odds-and-ends resides in open-air barrels and on easily browseable shelves. Bins entice shoppers to rummage through metal bits in search of the next piece to a welded sculpture, and other aisles hold several decades’ worth of electronic wiring, fans, speakers, and fuses, perfect for building a robot that every generation can relate to. Frequent shoppers are rewarded with a new truckload of treasures every week, along with an ever-changing collection of signs that artistically warn of the hazards of shoplifting and suggest off-label uses for the merchandise. World Famous Design Junkies praised Ax-Man for its signage and its selection alike in 2009, calling it “the greatest place to buy do-hickeys in the entire world.”
At CL!X Portrait Studios, photographers can capture well-posed shots of siblings in matching sweaters or click away at kids in their natural state of play, whether they are giggling in a frilly tutu or banging on a set of pots and pans. The studio’s array of portraiture styles reflects its founders’ goals: Sandy and Michael Pawlyszyn started CL!X after searching fruitlessly for a user-friendly way to document their own kids’ childhoods. Now, their team of photographers snaps youthful smiles in the studio as well as on site in the community, helming shoots at local schools, dance studios, and sports games. Their subjects need not be children, though—they can craft portraits of entire families, moms-to-be, and high-school seniors before they graduate and cycle back to preschool. The crew also takes photographic fun on the road via photo-booth rentals, which let partiers create their own lasting memories at special events.