Named among the top five local craft stores by Fox 8 City Voter, the shop serves as a workshop for burgeoning crafters, as well as a gift shop and a source for inspiring seasonal project ideas. Staff artists teach workshops in three crafting genres: jewelry, housewares, and needle arts, offering a well-rounded curriculum that helps students with all-around constructive knowledge. Just as fish parents drop their babies into the water to teach them how to swim, teachers instill the fundamentals of handicraft by walking students through their first project during classes. Inside the eclectic gift shop, more than 65 local artists display handmade loot such as purses, hair accessories, pottery, and greeting cards, each unique in design. The community-minded store also encourages crafters of all skill levels to gather under its roof, whether to trade inspiration, project ideas, or swap unneeded craft supplies.
In addition to being stocked with gallery-wrapped canvas prints, ARTWALL acts as a print licensing agent, keeping a large stock of canvas on hand for prints of famous paintings. When the staffers aren't selling ready-made prints, they create custom ones with customers' artwork and photographs.
Paula Atwell wasn't born an artist. She didn't pursue any art form in college, instead achieving a degree in English and a minor in accounting. After logging years in standard 9–5 jobs, she had an epiphany—it was time to do something for herself. Taking this newfound motivation to action, Paula enrolled in a beading class and followed it with forays into metalsmithing, crafting, and soldering.
These experiments in creativity led her to join the Lake Erie Artists co-op in 2003, where she began to show her eclectic jewelry at their booth during local festivals. When the co-op became incorporated in 2005, Paula's business world experience made her an obvious choice to lead the diverse group of artists in forming their own gallery. Today, the co-op-turned-gallery now carries hundreds of art pieces that span a range of media.
Producing blown-glass sculptures and handcrafted metal jewelry and pottery, the artists each specialize in a few select media as decided during the gallery's annual game of spin-the-paintbrush. The staff at Lake Erie Artists Gallery is also a strong proponent of local business, encouraging their patrons to browse Shake Square after looking at their wares. In project-oriented classes taught by working artists, students explore jewelry and painting and leave with their handcrafted pieces.
Glass Bubble Project's owners Mike Kaplan and Chris McGillicutty are business partners, friends, and working artists. Beginning in 1998, they repurposed their garage space into a working studio where professional artists and students create side by side, firing delicate one-of-a-kind masterpieces—and, according to Cleveland Magazine, the occasional grilled cheese sandwich—in the shop's 2,000-degree furnace. Their glass-blowing and welding classes teach adults and children to create one-of-a-kind artwork as nearby artists at work bolster creativity. Besides classes, the studio invites guests to watch their free public demonstrations and grants private studio time to artists in need and broken bottles looking for a fresh start.
The shop's resident artists craft and sell sconces, chandeliers, and vases from recycled glass and repurposed metal. Nicknamed “Clevetion Glass” to simultaneously lampoon delicate Venetian glass and celebrate Cleveland's heartiness, their blend of industrial parts and elegant glasswork toughens up the décor of private residences and commercial buildings, such as the Ritz Carlton, all across the country.
What started out as a search for a fun alternative form of artistic expression led to the founding of an institution for preserving and sharing a millennia-old craft. That enthusiasm proved to be contagious, as more than 700 students from all ages and walks of life attended J & C Glass Studio's workshops in the first year alone.
Today, J & C Glass Studio continues to teach the art of glass blowing with instructional workshops that cater to beginner and advanced students. Passionate instructors share techniques performed almost the same way as artisans did thousands of years ago. During sessions, a mixture of sand, limestone, and silica is heated to 2,000 degrees until it reaches a honey-like consistency. From there, students shape it with tools, the power of suggestion, and their own breath, creating custom works of art that can decorate a mantel or desk for a lifetime.
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