Artists-to-be needn't have a Guggenheim Fellowship to enter the cozy doors of Third Coast. Walking in, most experience a rush of creativity at the sight of exposed-clay figurines, bare dinnerware, and a fully clothed staff. Once a piece-to-be-masterpieced has been selected—be it a plate, vase, coffee mug, martini glass, piggy bank, Buddha, or bust of Elvis—decorators can begin applying base coats to their evolving ceramic canvas. Those who suffer from painter's block can consult Third Coast's bountiful idea books, stencils, and stamps, or resolve it the old-fashioned way by pacing the studio floor with a corncob pipe. All the finished pieces are then set aside to be glazed and fired later by the studio staff. Your objet d'art will be ready for pickup in a week. Each brushwielder will be assessed a modest $6 studio fee along with the price of whichever starting piece they select ($6–$40 depending on size).
At The Book Gallery's two Nashville-area locations, savvy staff members point readers toward fiction, comics, and nonfiction titles available in hardcover and paperback at discounted prices. Thousands of kids' and young-adult fiction selections provide more educational entertainment for moppets than playing video games or rearranging PB&J sandwiches into alphabetical order.
Since 1964, Guitar Center has paired musicians with guitars, keyboards, drums, Pro Audio gear, and necessary accessories, including DJ and recording equipment to capture newly made melodies. An iPad music-stand adaptor ($39.99) connects an iPad to a music stand, allowing musicians to access online programs and music apps on-stage, or to publicly dedicate a song to their online Scrabble partner. A clip-on tuner ($29.99) keeps notes pitch-perfect, and Guitar Center’s array of sheet music produces a wider variety of sounds than singing from a thesaurus, with options that include the C-surfing The Real Blues Book ($31.49). Stitch tighter harmonies by threading notes onto Slinky guitar strings ($3.79), or use the value of today's Groupon toward a larger purchase, such as the Epiphone Les Paul Special II guitar ($169–$179.99). Guitar Center rounds out its collection of gear with Pro Audio and DJ equipment, keyboards, and drums, allowing every band member or solo cymbal player to stock up on their chosen form of expression.
Southerland Station has always nurtured budding creativity. Founded in 1958 as a blueprint- and drafting-supply store, the shop has since grown in size and scope, gearing its inventory of imagination fuel—which now numbers 40,000 different items—toward a younger audience. Oil paints and canvases offer outlets for artistic talents, which can also be honed in one of the shop’s art classes. Lego sets and model trains appeal to both the imaginative and the literal-minded, replicating reality through brightly colored bricks or 1:220 scale trains that are accurate down to their Union Pacific livery. And, though it now represents a smaller portion of the business, the drafting-supplies section is still there, giving mechanically inclined kids materials for blueprinting their next treehouse or battery of anti-cooties missiles.
Ron Hogan Stained Glass Design Center preserves Old-World artistry and educates students on contemporary processes in classes devoted to the craft of building custom stained-glass pieces. During each three-hour sun-catcher class, the studio's dedicated professionals unveil tips for selecting, cutting, and soldering glass. Students wield the provided tools to assemble colorful pieces of glass into light-capturing traps capable of plunging the Earth into darkness.
Brilliant Sky Toys & Books began with the assumption that all forms of childhood development are enhanced by allowing kids open-ended play with great, creativity-inspiring toys. The boutique toy store instills this philosophy daily, carrying independently-crafted, thoughtful, educational playthings.
Each shop staffs professional Play Consultants who help kids sort through the selection of games, crafts, books, plush animals, science building dolls, and musical instruments. They provide unlimited demos of the toys, doing their best to ensure that each kid finds one that stimulates their ever-folding brain, whether it’s a magic trick for budding illusionists, an experiment for aspiring chemists, or trains for apprentice train robbers.