Alex Layne, a graduate of the illustrious Peabody Institute, edifies aspiring shredders of all ages with guitar-playing prowess he purloined from members of punk group Reptile House and other musicians such as Felicia Carter and Antony West. During two 30- or 45-minute lessons, students can perfect their plucking on an electric, acoustic, or inflatable axe as Alex summons more than 20 years of teaching know-how to impart basic, intermediate, or advanced skills. Customized to each pupil’s individual aptitude, sessions can cover fundamentals that include open chords and strumming techniques, or such advanced talents as mastering pentatonic scales and upstaging lead singers. Today’s Groupon may also be redeemed for online lessons via Skype, allowing Alex the ability to zoom in on complicated chords.
Earth Alley carries a selection of environmentally considerate and fair-trade gifts culled from around the world, including recycled paper products, handcrafted jewelry, and organic beauty supplies. Handmade in Rwanda from recycled office waste, Good Paper thank-you cards ($5.50) express heartfelt gratitude to devoted friends or an overworked coffee pot. Refresh bodies exhausted from excessive cubicle crowd surfing with a slather of The Naked Bee hand and body lotion ($11.99) or coat lips in SPF 15 lip balm ($3.99), which protects against the harmful effects of sun smooching. A Bungalow 360 cotton canvas elephant wallet ($22.99) guards cash with tusked tenacity, and a pair of 3 Sisters frog-prince earrings ($24.99) transforms from ordinary dominoes into artful accessories with just a kiss and coating of acrylic varnish.
Cake craftswoman Cynthia adds a sweet, artful touch to weddings, birthday parties, and events with custom cakes pulled fresh from her oven and wildly creative imagination. She sifts, mixes, and ices one-of-a-kind confectionery marvels—in chocolate, vanilla, and red velvet—to each client’s specifications. No two creations look the same, and each custom goody pushes her ingenuity as she achieves such unlikely designs as a Chucky doll, Nikon camera, or motorcycle. Traditional tiered cakes further demonstrate Cynthia’s artistry and attention to detail with precisely crafted flowers, lace, and filigree fit for the Queen of England’s midnight snack.
The proud winner of multiple Best of Baltimore awards from the Baltimore City Paper, Doubledutch Boutique clothes its clients in striking, sunny pieces of apparel and jewelry from well-known and up-and-coming designers. Like a steam-powered smartphone, the lineup of cute clutches, smart jackets, and flattering dresses blends contemporary design with a vintage charm, decorating customers in twirly polka dot skirts, print dresses, and bold-colored wedge shoes. On the first Friday of each month, Doubledutch invites visitors to join the staff for a shoppers' social, entertaining crowds with food, drinks, and a live DJ as guests peruse the lineup of nautical-themed jewelry, throwback cloche hats, and two-tone handbags.
Every Saturday, local knitters congregate on plush couches within Lovelyarns’ sunlit shop and secluded back patio, chatting as they spin skeins of exotic and locally made wool. This weekly open house is one facet of Lovelyarns’ efforts to foster a community of crafters, which has earned the shop a slew of awards and recognition from sources such as the Baltimore Sun and Style Magazine. In addition to offering classes, instructors welcome knitters to drop by any time for help unraveling a tricky scarf or hopelessly tangled kitten. They also recruit knitters to join in volunteer knitting and crocheting projects that benefit local charities and global causes.