Brooke Pottery features fine ceramic crafts and a host of handmade doodads from more than 400 American artists. A glazed, tri-colored McQueeny Belt Bowl ($48) offers a fetching soup-holding alternative to cupped palms, while the Heart Coaster Set ($40) lovingly shields countertops from clammy cocktails and over-fizzed sodas. Decorate feng shui–deficient gardens with ash-wood Chi Energy Amber wind chimes ($35), or embellish tree limbs with colorful Aloha Chimes ($42). For kids, the Blues Band Harmonica ($7) provides hours of fun in the key of harmonica.
Walking into a HobbyTown USA is like immersing yourself in a science fair, toy store, and art-supply shop all at the same time. Stocked with items ranging from 1/25 scale 1969 Camaro model kits ($18.99) to easy-to-care-for ant farms ($16.99), the store has something for any age or interest. Spicy up the tide of warm weather with interactive outdoor activities, such as flying Turbo Jet 2000 gliders ($4.99) or kites shaped like 3-D space shuttles ($19.99), which, unlike real space shuttles, serve decent in-flight meals. For rainy days, pick up a 10-piece carving-knife set ($11.99) and an eight-color all-purpose paint set ($13.99) to repurpose any banister as a totem pole of achievement.
Start by selecting any plate, bowl, flowerpot, mug, jug, or unexpected pottery discovery from a variety of contemporary and functional finely crafted artifacts. The Pottery Patch's colorful design books and friendly staff can help if you need inspiration or artistic guidance. After you make a sketch, you'll pick out paint colors (The Pottery Patch has more than 50 pigments). Then carefully direct your brush in tune with your dreams and wishes, letting your creative juices flow wildly onto the dinnerware of your choosing and spill onto the floor that is thoughtfully provided. There are no studio fees at The Pottery Patch, and pottery ranges from $7 to $75, depending on size and type. Once you're finished, The Pottery Patch glazes and fires your piece in a kiln; it'll be ready for pick-up in about a week, just like a slow-baking cake or a reverse movie rental.
Founded by Don and Cathy Statz in 1996, Victorian Village still employs many of its original staffers, who remain dedicated to helping guests find their ideal gift. Sips of gourmet coffee and nibbles of cookies provide much-needed sustenance as shoppers navigate the sprawling 15,999-square-foot store. Collectibles from Brighton, Lladro, and Swarovski beckon from their dedicated nooks, and patterned accessories by Vera Bradley encourage appropriate organization of toiletries, jewelry, and paisley swatch collections.
Pick up an item at Set apART Galleria, GIfts & Gathering, and nine times out of 10, it'll be something that was handmade by a local artist. Dedicated to supporting local, jewelers, knitters, and painters as much as possible, Set apART offers a place for fellowship, as well as a number of classes. Visitors can drop in for open beading hours, enroll in a class to create unique projects, or just shop for gifts.
For more than 20 years, the professional photographers at Charlie's Angels Photography have worked to capture images that not only preserve memories but also incorporate artistic touches. Their digital galleries boast shots from larger occasions such as weddings and runway shows to private events such as boudoir and portrait sessions. Their staff also includes professional makeup artists, who can prep subjects for shoots or gussy up complexions before weddings or high-school-graduation re-enactments.