Emerson Umbrella Center for the Arts began as a high school. Built in 1929, the town's first steel-beamed building was filled with bright young minds for more than half a century. But when the school outgrew its building, it moved, and set the stage for for the structure's second life. Emerson Umbrella's group of founding volunteers created a community-arts center that saved the building from demolition while also sticking to its original spirit, ensuring it be used for education. Today, owned by the town and managed by Emerson Umbrella, the center hosts studio space for more than 50 artists, workshops and classes for kids and grown-ups, a performance space for arts events of all disciplines, and just as many standardized biology tests.
After devoting years to protecting precious pictures and keepsakes from environmental harm, the Middlesex Framing crew has amassed an inventory of highly protective materials. Acid-free matting keeps photographs and certificates from deteriorating over time, UV-protection glass guards against sunlight’s discoloring rays, and museum glass deters bandits who somehow made it across the living room’s laser alarm grid. Partnering with Larson-Juhl, the crew is able to access more than 1,500 molding samples and matting combinations—ensuring that each piece is both protected and enhanced by its border.
The winner of Boston.com’s A-List for Best Fine Jewelry 2010, Karenna Maraj Jewelry dresses up drab garments with wearable art and passes along jewelry-making skills through enlightening classes. In the two-hour metalsmithing class, participants imbibe the knowledge of the jewelry gods, learning how to transform shapeless metal into beautiful bangles, pendants, and dental braces. Students shape, cut, solder, hammer, and polish two projects during the class, including a bangle and a pendant hammered from brass, copper wire, and black cord (all included, gold and silver can be purchased for an additional fee). Cutouts, stamps, and designs can be added to each piece, yielding a beautiful accessory ready to take home at the end of the class. With attendance capped at six pupils, students get plenty of one-on-one attention and the chance to fence a jewelry-saw master. Classes are held at the following times:
Luke Adams's childhood talent for drawing spurred him toward an education in glasswork at the Massachusetts College of Art, where he honed his technique under artists from all over the country. Today, Luke molds his molten medium into colorful, one-of-a-kind starfish suncatchers, jewelry, and paperweights. Through jewelry-making and glassblowing classes, his studio spreads a passion for glass-oriented artistry, teaching students to shear and assemble artful shards, molding them into versatile, translucent building blocks similar to the kind used to by Gustave Eiffel to construct an ice-cube model of his infamous tower.
Precious coffee is expertly brewed and measured at Voltage Coffee, which pours custom blends and premium chocolate concoctions into the cups of thirsty customers. The tasteful menu demonstrates the breadth of the store’s sippables, a roster that includes exotic creations such as the paper plane latte, which, like most actual planes, is powered by cardamom, rose water, and honey ($4 for 12 oz.). Three single-origin hot-chocolate drinks provided with tasting notes will please cocoaholics ($4 for 12 oz.).
The skilled framers at Around the Corner use high-quality materials such as hand-painted bevels and machine cut, acid-free matting to preserve works of art within an aesthetic framework. The store’s frame-fabricators specialize in conservation techniques, assuring that important pieces are equipped to endure the torments of time. Choose from a staggering selection of frame and mat-board samples to enshrine an old portrait of relatives or pay homage to a memorable BLT. Around the Corner crafts handsome displays for 8” x 10” pictures ($85), jerseys ($250+), and frames diplomas ($95–$125), which means newly graduated can proudly present their PhD without having to worry about their kids using it as paint-by-numbers adventure.