Alan J. Gardner opened his Salem factory in 1933, winning over generations of loyal customers with custom-made and odd-sized mattresses in a wide range of styles. Massachusetts-made pallets support sleepers with hand tufted construction and fluffy cotton fillings catered specifically to each client's specifications. The company's direct manufacturer-to-customer supply chain erases the influence of bothersome middlemen or arrogant, cigar-chomping mattress barons. Sleepers select from a variety of comfy cushion styles, such as latex, plush top, tufted, or pocket coils, with options for all-natural materials such as Joma wool and layers of thick cotton-knit fabric.
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.
The artists at Arte Mozzafiato—or “breathtaking art” in Italian—spend hours crafting each piece in their studio, leaving a bit of themselves in each ring, bowl, or sun-catcher they shape. Housed inside Gorse Mill Studios, which is a community of other local artists and studios, Arte Mozzafiato focuses on crafting elegant glass pieces that honor the tradition of lost forms such as glass molding, jewelry making, foiling, and stained glass. In an attempt to revive the art form, they design and construct stunning works ranging from glass rings and necklaces to fused bowls and stained-glass panels. The artists also hold regular workshops to share their love and knowledge of glasswork with the public.
Baker Adie Sprague, who made a splash as a participant on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, showcases her meticulous dessert designs at Treat Cupcake Bar. She crafts at least a dozen flavors every day, including seasonal goodies such as candy apple—an apple cake smothered with cinnamon frosting. Adie also whips up separate batches for gluten-free and vegan patrons, such as chocolate cake crowned with mint cookies ‘n' cream frosting.
Rather than hog all the decorating fun for itself, Treat invites guests to make their very own creations at its namesake bar. There, you’ll find four varieties of both cake and frosting, plus more than 20 other toppings, such as Pop Rocks and chocolate-covered pretzels. To refine your decorating skills, sign up for one of Treat’s holiday-themed classes and learn to make seasonal shapes such as turkeys for Thanksgiving and smashed calculators for National Do Long Division by Hand Day.
Visitors to London often rave about the Notting Hill antique market that stretches across Portobello Road. There, collectors and Europe's fashion elite rummage for finds from all over the world. Inspired by the district's magic, style experts Kristina Hare Lyons and Marina Kalb dreamed up a way to bring a little Portobello Road to Boston.
Inside their intimate boutique, the fashionistas stock clothing, accessories, and home furnishings sourced from around the globe. Gifts and treasures from Italy, Brazil, Nepal, and, naturally, the United Kingdom line the shelves, bearing the names of designers such as Miguel Ases, Chan Luu, and Byron Lars. And, in the spirit of the namesake market, Lyons and Kalb make it their mission to seek out rare and one-of-a-kind items not sold elsewhere in the city.
At Natural Exposures Photography, founder and professional photographer Gaye Hilsenrath relies on natural lighting in outdoor settings to document milestones with clarity and realism. Most photo projects begin with face-to-face consultations, during which clients can voice their desires for the shoot. After the on-location photo session, the staff helps immortalize subjects' special moments by putting together leather-bound photo albums, custom framing images, and chiseling families' faces into Mount Rushmore.