For 50 years, the owners and staffers of Plaza Artist Materials & Picture Framing have encouraged the artists of their community. They visit local fairs and set up booths for kids to color and craft, and they do workshops, demos, and classes for artists of every age. As their name implies, they also outfit art makers of all skill levels with top-of-the-line materials, such as Gamblin oil paints, Prismacolor pens and markers, and custom frames perfect for saving favorite art pieces or memorializing a sibling's failure to color within the lines.
For Meredith McCord, looking at a piece of pottery brings back decades worth of memories. McCord started The Mad Potter in 1998, and since those early days, she's used her kiln to immortalize countless special moments. She traveled to hospitals to capture the footprints of newborns, helped a young man create a dessert plate with the words "Will you marry me?" emblazoned across it, and auctioned off items for charity. Yet some of her fondest memories center on the day-to-day interactions with customers, specifically when they return to pick up their fired pieces and utter three words of amazement: "I did that?"
The Mad Potter has since expanded into three Houston-area locations, where children and adults come to paint their own works of art or create replicas of their ancient ancestors' garden gnomes. More than 500 bisqueware items line the shelves of each studio, including coffee mugs, plates, and figurines. Staffers then help visitors select from more than 54 available colors of paint and supply them with everything else they might need, including brushes and stencils. The staff can even take things over and create more intricate designs?while still consulting closely with the customer. Whatever route a person chooses, there's always time for a sip of wine or beer; the River Oaks location sells wine and beer while Bellaire and Woodway maintain a BYOB policy.
For nearly a decade, Camargo Trading Company owner Meggan Sulfsted has sought out designer jewelry, hand-poured candles, and other little luxuries that infuse a home or an outfit with personal style. But she isn’t only shopping for herself—she stocks these items in her boutique, which she operates out of a charming, multi-storied structure in Madeira. There, shoppers can take a look at the store’s aromatic bath products and its Longchamp and Botkier handbags, then decide whether they should buy something for themselves or get a gift for their future alter-egos. They can also find plush toys, chenille blankets, and children’s clothing.
For over 40 years, family-owned Row House Gallery and Custom Framing's highly-experienced staff has hosted art, prints, and a wide variety of framing services. Customers can peruse original works or seek out preservation framing—a house specialty—for things such as family photos, diplomas, or even wedding dresses. All told, the gallery and frame shop boasts over 1,500 types of frame moulding.
At Neusole Glassworks, gurus of all stripes and skill levels come together to fuse, blow, and mold glass both for independent projects and classes that explore the art form. The nonprofit facility sets the stage for inspired creation with flame-working, hotshop, and fusing studios that help the crew and their pupils transform raw materials into polished paperweights, unique pendants, and colorful new windshields. Upstairs, Neusole Glassworks invites browsers to tote pieces home from the gift shop or let their eyes feast on the myriad colors and textures at Atmosphere @ Neusole—a gallery for emerging artists and the facility’s students. In addition to welcoming anyone into its facility, Neusole Glassworks dispatches a mobile glassblowing studio to enliven street fairs and churn out slippers for palace dance parties.
Originally from Cartersville, Virginia, Elliott Jordan traveled south to pursue his passion, sojourning in Kentucky, where he received his bachelor’s in art and eventually his master’s in arts education. Experienced in portraiture, Jordan has transformed expressive countenances into works of art for more than 40 years, and his work has been displayed from the East to the Midwest—gracing the walls of the Cincinnati City Hall, Kentucky State University, and the historic Harriet Beecher Stowe House in Connecticut. Following a number of inspiring visits to Ghana, Jordan became a collector and dealer of African art, and today he displays and sells African artifacts at his gallery, as well as his own works and gold-framed pizza-delivery menus. He leads a number of painting classes inside the gallery's studio, where students follow along to create unique and colorful creations.