One man crouches low, weapon resting on his shoulder. Another stands erect, a pair of binoculars held to his face. An entire military squad of toy soldiers stands ready for eternal battle within a shadow box crafted by Neal Raffensberger. The shadow box is one of 4,000 framing options showcased inside Raffensberger Photography & Framing's red-brick façade, where professional photographer and custom-framing specialist Neal and his assistant help patrons conserve their most beloved mementos. Multitudes of frames, mats, mountings, and glass—including conservation glass that blocks 99% of color-dulling UV rays—come together to display anything from photographs and posters to jerseys and wisdom teeth. Neal, who first dabbled in photography at the age of 5 in his father's basement darkroom, also flaunts his artistic eye behind the camera in the store's onsite studio. Families, couples, and proof-seeking Bigfoots can capture history in portrait sessions, which use digital photography to allow for immediate viewing after each shoot.
Paula Atwell wasn't born an artist. She didn't pursue any art form in college, instead achieving a degree in English and a minor in accounting. After logging years in standard 9–5 jobs, she had an epiphany—it was time to do something for herself. Taking this newfound motivation to action, Paula enrolled in a beading class and followed it with forays into metalsmithing, crafting, and soldering.
These experiments in creativity led her to join the Lake Erie Artists co-op in 2003, where she began to show her eclectic jewelry at their booth during local festivals. When the co-op became incorporated in 2005, Paula's business world experience made her an obvious choice to lead the diverse group of artists in forming their own gallery. Today, the co-op-turned-gallery now carries hundreds of art pieces that span a range of media.
Producing blown-glass sculptures and handcrafted metal jewelry and pottery, the artists each specialize in a few select media as decided during the gallery's annual game of spin-the-paintbrush. The staff at Lake Erie Artists Gallery is also a strong proponent of local business, encouraging their patrons to browse Shake Square after looking at their wares. In project-oriented classes taught by working artists, students explore jewelry and painting and leave with their handcrafted pieces.
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.
Ken Cappelletty and Fred Moor, the men who man Ken’s Flower Shops, didn’t grow up dreaming about buds and stems. Raised by a local policeman, Ken likely spent more time playing cops and robbers than sniffing the neighbor’s rosebushes. It wasn’t until he helmed the cash register at a neighborhood florist in L.A. that he discovered his knack for design. Here, he started to see flowers as more than just plants, viewing them as art supplies that happen to smell nice. When Ken returned to Ohio, his parents helped him launch a small shop that arranged blooms in the morning and delivered them in the afternoon. Two years later, in 1967, his friend Fred took some of the reins, helping him grow the business into three local stores affiliated with FTD and Teleflora. From this labor of love, a legacy began to take root. At each shop, seasoned designers incorporate customers’ requests into birthday bouquets, wedding corsages, and gift baskets filled with wine, house-baked cookies, and stuffed toys cute enough to melt hearts and plush enough to sop up the mess. Their talent and creativity takes center stage as well, whether they’re filling vases with orchids, crafting wreaths from roses, or building bouquets from singing balloons. To this day, Fred often answers the phones, discerning customers’ style preferences from friendly chats rather than pilfered diary pages. To make giving easy as getting, the shop’s wares can be delivered locally or internationally, seven days a week.
Levin Furniture has been passed down through generations of Levins since 1920, when Jessie Levin persuaded her husband to start a business to help their daughters' prospects. Since then, the business has grown, expanded, and gained a reputation for procuring and selling quality furniture. Levin Furniture's stock includes leather reclining sofas, beautifully carved dining tables, and sleigh beds from Daniel's Amish using hardwood materials from Ohio.
With a plethora of frame and mat samples, Deck The Walls can satisfy any and all framing fantasies. The expert framespeople can make diplomas radiate (most framing starts at $99), dorm-room movie posters sparkle (24"x36" pieces start at $99), and sports jerseys shine. The design wizards can also find a home for any prized possession, such as shoebox photos, baby booties, ticket stubs, medals, and really good pot roasts. Deck The Walls' lifetime guarantee and assurance that all work is done on-site means your frameables won't be subject to mistreatment at underground commercial framing facilities.