Founded in 1972, Cougar Mountain Zoo has maintained a commitment to wildlife education, with particular focus on endangered species. Sweeping views of the Cascade Mountain range and Lake Sammamish set the backdrop for myriad activities, such as daily keeper-led animal walks and minilectures led by zoo staff on two- and four-legged residents who refuse to speak English. Membership benefits include free zoo admission and a 15% discount at the zoo gift shop.
Within the century-old confines of Uptown Glassworks' warehouse, furnaces melt handfuls of kaleidoscopic frit into malleable shapes manipulated by a team of professional glass blowers. But these tradesmen don't just create works for the gallery; they also share their secrets with students in a variety of activities, from introductory courses on making beads and paperweights to advanced instruction that can be applied toward college credit or used to fix the pockmarked walls of glass houses.
During the shop's Blow-Your-Own sessions, participants apply color to clear, molten glass that has recently emerged from a 2,000-degree furnace, then blow their mixture into 1 of 20 different shapes. The next day, patrons can pick up their cooled and packaged creations, comparing their handiwork to the gallery's collection of products, which are made by more than 90 local and regional glass artists.
The craftsmen at New Dimensions Frame & Mirror do not mess around when it comes to custom framing. Not only do they handcraft each frame in-house, they use museum standards and conservation materials to protect prized pieces. They also boast a constantly rotating collection of artwork to fill empty frames, as well as custom mirrors that range from ornate to contemporary.
Presented as a gift to Seattle residents from Charles and Emma Frye, two philanthropic Seattleites, the Frye Art Museum in the First Hill neighborhood is lean and low when viewed from the street. The building’s stark mid-century concrete profile belies the rich collection of artwork and airy galleries held inside. Opened in 1952 as a home for the couple’s private collection of 232 paintings, entrance is free in perpetuity for Seattle residents. And while the Frye founding collection focuses on nineteenth- and twentieth-century paintings, visiting exhibitions have expanded this content and routinely feature contemporary artists such as Mark Mitchell, Joshua Kohl, Jason Hirata, Henry Darger and Helmi Juvonen, among others. The museum also hosts a gift shop and small cafe with outdoor seating in warm months, but is closed on Mondays.
Museum Quality Framing’s staff encases cherished photos, artwork, and three-dimensional objects in materials ranging from polished wood to leather. Ready-made photo frames ($10+) clasp snapshots in a wood-and-glass embrace, protecting them from wrinkles, stains, and the scratchy nuzzles of sentimental lumberjacks. Lackluster walls can find colorful companionship in preframed artwork and a vehicle for deep self-reflection in mirrors ($100+). Ensconce valuables in custom framing packages ($69.99+), which can accommodate sports memorabilia, or preserve fine art with archival mats and backing boards. Handcrafted frames add a Renaissance flair to photos, utilizing materials such as 22-karat gold leaf to create one-of-a-kind frames.
Velocity Art & Design, an aesthetically oriented emporium, provides visitors with a range of eccentric home essentials, including jewelry, lamps, ceramics, books, and other eye-pleasing wonders capable of turning houses into homes into at-home galleries. The artfully designed Ferm Living Owl Kids Apron ($34.25) brings whimsy to breakfast prep, and an array of artwork, such as earthy, human-brushed Labokoff prints ($28 each) and playful Urbancase Camera Candles ($30 each), spruce up any space. Beyond aesthetic wonders, Velocity also carries many curiously innovative items such as the patented Nanda Clocky alarm clock ($50), which rolls away upon wake-up call, forcing snooze-button smashers to stay punctual, active, and suspicious of all autonomous machines.