With the decline of boomboxes and mixtapes, the lovelorn have discovered that blasting "In Your Eyes" from an iPod held aloft doesn't pack quite the same emotional punch. Today's Groupon gives crafty romantics a much-needed alternative medium for creatively professing love. For $20, you get $50 towards jewelry-making, sewing, or paper crafts classes at Abeille. If you're feeling especially inspired, you can buy two for $100 worth of do-it-yourself tutorials. Your Groupon can also be applied toward jewelry-making materials, even if you don't enroll in a class.
Experienced framers Barry Stahl and Bob Clayton built Big Picture Framing from scratch in 2000, holding meetings around an old card table as construction roared around them. Today, framers at 15 area locations craft custom frames to display artwork, photographs, and record sleeves, and shadow boxes protect three-dimensional items such as ballet slippers, macaroni art, or a swarm of wasps. Patrons can dictate all design choices, choosing from metal and wooden frames in a multitude of colors and styles, or ask for recommendations from one of Big Picture Framing's resident experts. Big Picture Framing also stocks pre-framed art, prints, and posters to spruce up bare-walled homes or a drab doghouse.
Spanning two floors and 6,000 square feet, Rodney's Bookstore houses more than 100,000 new and used titles, including rare and out-of-print tomes. With the selection ranging from used textbooks and cookbooks, to children's picture books and popular fiction, the store promises a tactile readable for any interest ($3–$35 for used books). Large sections on art and architecture will provide budding designers with ample resources to construct the world's first fully recyclable house, while retro decorators and nostalgic robber barons can peruse the catalog of more than 1,000 vintage advertising posters ($19.95 for a 20"x30" image).
Like Don Quixote, veteran bookseller John Petrovato has embarked on a tempestuous journey spawned from a love of books. In defiance of chain and online bookstores, John is returning the human face to the neighborhood book shop, parsing out used tomes with a personal smile and, often, a few words from the author. And he’s succeeding. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that this first incarnation of the new Raven Used Books—he made an amicable split with the co-owner of the original location—is located in Cambridge, where Harvard’s distinguished student body and professorship dwells. But even John's second store, located on Newbury Street, drew an equal number of book lovers, as well as speakers such as Noam Chomsky and a Best of the New nod from the Boston Globe. The reasons for John’s success in this struggling field are twofold. Many of the customers come because they appreciate the personal attention and literary culture that surrounds a local bookstore. And the inventory is nothing to scoff at. The Cambridge location stocks roughly 16,000 books—many of them from university presses—ranging in subjects from philosophy to social theory and poetry. The stock at the Newbury Street location veers towards more general subjects such as fiction, American history, children’s books, and children's books about social theory. And with roughly 2,000 new books arriving weekly between the two locations, the shelves are always packed with reading material for general readers and scholars alike.
Art teacher Bessie Blum shares her love for handmade objects at Made by Me, where she teaches classes that uncover each painter's hidden creativity. Under her guidance, attendees learn the fundamentals of craftsmanship, using a potter's wheel to fashion pottery pieces or fusing glass into bowls, picture frames, or whale-proof aquarium windows. Bessie's selection of pre-made pottery, meanwhile, serves as a canvas for results-oriented DIY-ers, who can skip the creation process and go straight to adorning pieces with custom layers of colorful food-safe glaze.
Sharing a single art studio with 65 other artists, while inspiring, can get a bit crowded. So when the owner of the renovated factory building in the South End decided to renovate another nearby building, bead crocheter Andrea Garr put her dreams of opening her own studio and bead store into action, and Bead + Fiber was born. Wielding multihued beads, a fine selection of specialty yarns, tools and jewelry-making materials picked up from her travels around the globe, Garr sells her creations as well as those of the other teachers and instructs students on how to make their own, whether it's a pair of elegant earrings for a wedding or a retractable necklace for a fashion-forward pet turtle. A lifelong artist, Garr revels in the rhythm and meditative vibe of crocheting beads as well as the seemingly endless possibilities of making your own jewelry.