At Pottery Paintin' Place, ceramic renderings of Darth Vader and Princess Leia join mugs, plates, and piggy banks atop a series of shelves. Visiting artists pluck one of these achromatic items from its waiting place before coating it in a colorful design and handing it off to a staff member, who fires it in the on-site kiln. Each piece of art emerges from the kiln able to withstand ovens, dishwashers, microwaves, and most apocalypses.
The shop's master potter, Brian Murphy, further encourages artistic expression with pottery-throwing courses, during which participants design their own ceramic creations. The newly expanded party area holds up to 24 painters, who can partake in refreshments brought from home during one- to two-hour celebrations. On-site summer camps and after-school programs cater to the younger crowd with tie-dyeing, glass-fusing, beading, and homework-torching.
Bender's Mattress PhD lulls bodies to sleep on a fleet of brand-name mattresses and pillows. Taxonomize sheep atop a selection of Innomax pillows ($17+) or avoid cricks with a Tempur-Pedic neck pillow ($89). Customers no longer content to swaddle themselves in tinfoil at bedtime can try the Classic full ($199) or Caress twin ($199) mattresses. Memory foam mattresses ($339+) conform to individual bodily impressions, and specific Tempur-Pedic mattresses ($1,299+) earned an ease-of-use commendation by the Arthritis Foundation and ranked a Consumers Digest Best Buy.
The wireless provider industry changes quickly, but Arch Telecom keeps up by giving both technicians and front-line employees continual training. The extra effort shows: enthusiastic testimonials from clients cite employees' patient technical support for two seniors who were far from tech-savvy, as well as a staffer staying well beyond closing time to ensure a business's new phone lines were set up properly.
Wireless Store is Boston's first T-Mobile limited retailer, offering a sizable selection of wireless phones and accessories. Conversations can be held hands free while driving down the highway or riding on horseback with advanced Bluetooth headsets made by Jabra, Plantronics, Motorola, and BlueAnt. Other wireless accessories, such as chargers, cases, screen protectors, and batteries, keep phones clean, shiny, and fully charged. Though it wears the T-Mobile logo as proudly as a rebellious teenager in a Cramps T-shirt, Wireless Store is a locally owned and operated establishment.
The rigid heddle loom is a relatively simple machine. Jennifer Baum, The Weaving Shed's owner and a juried fiber artist, likes it because a beginning student can set it up and start a scarf within 45 minutes. Along with the loom's simplicity, Jen appreciates the therapeutic value of its rhythmic, back-and-forth cadence. As students work the loom to steadily pull fiber threads into a hand-woven item, they also shed the stress of their day. Jen sees these transformations—both in the progress of the project and the demeanor of the student—as she guides the technique and lends tips to the up to eight students that attend each class in the newly-expanded studio.
Along with classes, The Weaving Shed also spearheads a Farm to Yarn program with local farms. The natural or hand-dyed sheep's wool or alpaca fleece becomes a sustainable, specialty fiber for weaving, knitting, felting, crotchet, and spinning projects. This interest in cultivating local fibers hits especially close to Jen's home, AKA Sunny Knoll Farm, where, with her husband and children, she helps raise an ever-growing alpaca herd. She describes the alpaca as a very "zen-lifestyle animal," even though scientific journals refer to them as "respiring shag carpets." Along with laughing at the "fun family adventure" that the experience has been, she also praises the hypoallergenic qualities of the fleece and its 22 naturally occurring colors.
The word “bead” has multiple meanings at Bead Fiesta The Shoppe. It can mean—among other things—tiny seed beads, handmade glass beads, wooden beads, pearls, crystals, gemstones, and silver trinkets. Housed in the rustic 19th-century Cider Mill Building, the shop also stocks jewelry-making supplies, which are now considered highly valuable to pirates. To complement its wares, the venue hosts a variety of jewelry-making classes, on topics from working with precious metal clay to forging accessories from ice resin.