Whether they prefer to work with glass, canvas, or ceramic, budding artists can tap into their creativity inside Pottery Isle. The studio's ceramic-painting sessions enable patrons to select a piece—such as a dish or a statue—and customize it with their own color and design scheme. BYOB painting classes inside Canvas Cafe lead students step-by-step through the painting creation process, and summer programs for kids show young ones how to draw and paint on mediums other than kitchen walls or Dad's face while he sleeps.
Pottery Isle also hosts glass-fusing classes that turn molten glass into artwork, as well as field trips and teen events. Plus, it provides pottery-to-go packages, which supply artists with take-home pottery pieces, paint, and brushes, allowing them to create something when they have downtime on vacation or during a board meeting.
The chefs at Off the Vine Tuscan Grille stretch the Italian border all the way to Massachusetts, encapsulating their warm eatery in the Mediterranean’s Old World flavors. Their menu devotes an entire section to flatbread pizzas crafted from housemade dough and sauces, including Nick's pie flecked with grilled shrimp and roasted garlic. While mouths water over penne ala bolognese, slow roasted osso buco, and dinner bells rung after psychological experimentation, eyes feast on games broadcast from TVs hung atop a full bar.
Experienced framers Barry Stahl and Bob Clayton built Big Picture Framing from scratch in 2000, holding meetings around an old card table as construction roared around them. Today, framers at 15 area locations craft custom frames to display artwork, photographs, and record sleeves, and shadow boxes protect three-dimensional items such as ballet slippers, macaroni art, or a swarm of wasps. Patrons can dictate all design choices, choosing from metal and wooden frames in a multitude of colors and styles, or ask for recommendations from one of Big Picture Framing's resident experts. Big Picture Framing also stocks pre-framed art, prints, and posters to spruce up bare-walled homes or a drab doghouse.
Well-lit and painstakingly organized, Used Book Superstores upend images of the precariously balanced stacks and dusty hardcovers most people associate with used book stores. More than 100,000 new and gently used books—from current bestsellers to staples of the literary world—sprawl across each of the five mammoth locations, which, like so many shattered crates of tea, dot the landscape of the greater Boston and south New Hampshire region. As bookworms hunker down with hardcovers, paperbacks, and children's books, neglected friends can peruse the store's voluminous selection of music, DVDs, and toys, all of which sell for a fraction of their original cost.
Artisan clayworkers toil over Great Bay Pottery's ever-ready kilns crafting one-of-a-kind stoneware pottery, including sturdy floor vases, convenient serving dishes, and all manner of saucers for UFO hoaxing. Patient clients can watch as potters spin their new piece of practical decoration into existence and finish the piece to their specifications with painted and glazed designs in nautical, arboreal, or impressionistic themes, among many other options. For a small fee, the potters will inscribe any piece with a message for personalized gift giving.
Quick, quick, slow. Quick, quick, slow. It seems that every dance lesson starts the same way. Students are told, "These are the steps," "Move to the beat," and "Never breakdance on wet cement." But unwilling to settle for the minimum, Seacoast Ballroom helps dancers see beyond getting their feet to move in the right direction. Its founder, Frederick Dunn, strives to inject dancers with grace and musical expression to help them feel dance for what it is—an art form. Its classes range in difficulty from beginner to competition level, and cover a variety of ballroom styles. Solo dancers or couples can strut through a tango, shimmy their hips in salsa, or effuse elegance through the Viennese waltz.