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.
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.
With an eye for bold design, the staff at FinnStyle curates clothing, home décor, and other goods from Finnish designers including Marimekko, Iittala, and Artek. The online store and brick-and-mortar building house wares that have been featured in magazines such as Lucky, Dwell, and The Nest. Among the items, colorful bolts of Marimekko fabric await future occupations as curtains, pillow covers, or dresses, and Kalevala jewelry designs, modeled after archeological finds from the Iron Age, form bold statement pieces for the neck, ears, and wrists.
Castle Building & Remodeling, one of Remodeling magazine’s Big 50 of 2011, hosts a team of professional designers and builders who overhaul interiors with historically inspired concepts. Two design-selection studios display the custom craftsmanship, showcasing a 1940s–style kitchen with cherry cabinets and a 1910s–style bathroom with hex tile flooring and a sink full of Teddy Roosevelt's mustache trimmings.
The remodelers create a mockup of each project using 3-D CAD software, noting any desired changes before installation. They realize projects with the help of artisanal manufacturers such as Clay Squared, whose artists craft custom ceramic tiles using time-honored methods.
The brewing and winemaking experts at Midwest Homebrewing and Winemaking Supplies lavish equipment and encouragement upon aspiring beverage crafters nationwide. Beer and wine equipment kits provide every necessity in one handy package, unlike puzzle-piece-of-the-month clubs, and ingredient kits yield liquid harvests in a range of styles and varietals. Whatever the favored flavor, Midwest's premium ingredients and handy how-to books help to make consistent batches each time, aiding brewers in avoiding the embarrassment of turning out a spicy pinot grigio or a bacon-flavored lager.
Started in 1998, Fired Up Studios has quickly evolved from a small pottery studio to an art center with classes and a gallery. Despite this growth, its mission remains the same: to raise the spirits of anyone who enters. In the 7,200-square-foot studio, experienced potters provide a judgment-free creative outlet for students and visiting artists alike, inviting them to have fun and experiment with the studio's collection of pottery wheels, kilns, and glazes. These potters also teach students how to throw clay, shape up elegant bowls and vases, and sculpt pixelization onto nude figures.