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.
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.
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.
For Andy and Rachel Lee of Art and Frame World, their framing projects don't end at two-dimensional objects. Photos surround a folded American flag to depict a beloved family member in his military years. A commemorative Minnesota Twins jersey hangs with sleeves folded to show off its decorative patches. A Stratocaster guitar, signed by Jon Bon Jovi and his band, floats on mounts next to a gold record and a ruby-encrusted 8-track tape. This attention to detail is also apparent in the business's traditional frame jobs, which ensconce photographs in intricate patterns. Conservation items such as acid-free matting and UV-protective glass ensure that prized artwork is kept safe from the elements.
The crackle of Fireside Hearth & Home's fireplaces have filled the soundscapes of households across the country for more than 60 years. Today, their well-stocked showrooms feature a variety of advanced gas, electric, and wood-burning models from top designers such as Quadra-Fire, Heat & Glo, and Heatilator. In addition to fireplaces and accessories, they offer a number of decorative surrounds and mantels built with stone, wood, or casted material to gussy up any new or existing hearth. At attractive display areas fashioned to look like natural household settings, attentive staffers stand by to answer any questions, offer installation guidelines, or share tips on repelling pesky Santas.