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 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.
The aesthetic champions at My Little Red Haus put the power of paint, canvas, and crafts into tiny, eager hands, earning recognition as The Best Place for Kids by Montgomery's Downtown District for the last two years. Children’s mixed-media courses welcome youngsters to learn and practice using a variety of materials and skills. Diminutive Da Vincis and atomic Andy Warhols will draw, paint, and glue a mixed-media creation to beautify fridges, bedrooms, and adorable interrogation rooms. Younger mini-artists (ages 4–6) begin with the basics, polishing motor skills and exploring crafty knowledge of color, line, textures, and shapes, from the familiar circle to the tricky five-pointed triangle. Older kids (ages 7–12) get pointers on their budding artistic skills.
In the days before Paul Revere made his midnight ride, colonial North Americans favored one spirit above all others: rum. But while the delicious nectar?fermented and distilled from sugarcane and molasses?remains a top-shelf staple for daiquiris and mojitos, it seems to have gone down in status as America's signature liquor. Fortunately, the devoted enthusiasts of The Rum Lab have created the Midwest Rum Fest, a traveling expo that aims to give the dark, golden beverage back its crown without us falling back under the rule of King George III. As live tropical music floats through the air, guests become rum aficionados by tasting new cocktails, attending seminars from rum creators, and watching bartenders clash in a mixology demonstration.
In 2011, artist and instructor Kevin Miller decided to create more painting enthusiasts with a friendly, casual approach to art classes. He struck out on his own and opened Kreative Spirits?a studio where adults and children alike can learn to paint a picture in three hours or less. Miller leads his students through a series of easy-to-follow steps during his sessions. Using provided brushes and paints, each visitor daubs and blends their way toward a beach scene, sunset, or beautiful bouquet of daises. During adult classes, students can drink wine, beer, or soda that is available for purchase. Children's lessons focus on slightly easier pictures, such as a ladybug on a leaf or Van Gogh with his ear still attached.
From the welcoming confines of her art studio, Jen Meade calls on more than 35 years of experience as a self-taught artist as she shepherds visitors through their own colorful journeys of self-expression. Group classes for adults instill painters of all levels with new brushing skills, and private lessons give students one-on-one attention to focus on useful techniques, such as disguising mistakes with unobtrusive trees and bobcats wearing sunglasses. During Jen's specialty classes, brushstrokes elude the canvas to instead embellish a variety of creative keepsakes, such as paintable wineglasses and articles of clothing.