Most students in introductory stained-glass-making classes are in search of a new hobby or a fun few hours, but not Connie Beckers. In 1995, she took such a course and soon built a career around the art of stained glass and kiln-working. Now, through The Goddess of Glass, she teaches others her craft during classes that cover the creation of jewelry, coasters, plates, and transparent overalls. She?s also been known to flex her instructional muscle as a guest artist on the DIY Network show Cramped Quarters, where she taught the show?s host and contractor how to make stained-glass tiles for a kitchen in the middle of remodeling.
The Goddess of Glass also sells artwork and gifts out of a separate retail shop. Patrons can commission a custom piece, such as a stained-glass window, or peruse a collection of pieces by more than 80 local artisans. The shop?s staff can also advise clients who need custom framing, helping them to pick the proper matting and frame so that their Richard Nixon rookie cards really pop.
Amber Hein's longtime fascination with photography?as well as her life as proud mother to a fast-growing daughter?instills in her a passion for capturing precious family moments, with a specialty in documenting weddings, newborns, and family portraits. Amber doesn't ply her trade in a stuffy studio, but instead travels on-location, using her favorite green spaces and secluded urban spots as stunning natural backdrops to engagement pictures, kids' photos, and maternity portraits. Hein takes an organic approach to her art, snapping memories of real, candid human interaction and family bliss, with a touch of soft-focus vintage charm.
At CL!X Portrait Studios, photographers can capture well-posed shots of siblings in matching sweaters or click away at kids in their natural state of play, whether they are giggling in a frilly tutu or banging on a set of pots and pans. The studio’s array of portraiture styles reflects its founders’ goals: Sandy and Michael Pawlyszyn started CL!X after searching fruitlessly for a user-friendly way to document their own kids’ childhoods. Now, their team of photographers snaps youthful smiles in the studio as well as on site in the community, helming shoots at local schools, dance studios, and sports games. Their subjects need not be children, though—they can craft portraits of entire families, moms-to-be, and high-school seniors before they graduate and cycle back to preschool. The crew also takes photographic fun on the road via photo-booth rentals, which let partiers create their own lasting memories at special events.
For Andy and Rachel Lee of Art and Frame World, their framing projects don't end at two-dimensional objects. Photos surround a folded American flag to depict a beloved family member in his military years. A commemorative Minnesota Twins jersey hangs with sleeves folded to show off its decorative patches. A Stratocaster guitar, signed by Jon Bon Jovi and his band, floats on mounts next to a gold record and a ruby-encrusted 8-track tape. This attention to detail is also apparent in the business's traditional frame jobs, which ensconce photographs in intricate patterns. Conservation items such as acid-free matting and UV-protective glass ensure that prized artwork is kept safe from the elements.
Custom T-shirt Central hands the creative reins to customers, letting them design their own graphics for T-shirts, sweatshirts, and onesies. After uploading a hand-sketched masterpiece, crafting a computerized image, or selecting a picture from the store’s extensive gallery, an easy-to-navigate online program helps turn pixelated dreams into realities on the chosen garment. The software displays fabric color to ensure complementary hues. It also lets designers size and position sayings or cartoons so that they’re big enough to read from afar or tiny enough to bring curious passersby close enough to bite. After the composition is perfected, personalized attire arrives by mail.
Family Ties' audio-visual wizards transport precious memories from fragile analog formats to resilient CDs and high-capacity DVDs. Family Ties protects the source materials from harm while the staff works, taking the utmost care to transfer the contents while leaving the vessel intact. Film and videotape conversions spring wedding videos and shaky camcorder recordings of the infamous UFO bank robbery of '75 from their native formats for preservation in pristine digital quality. Still photos scroll across screens to musical accompaniment in video photo albums, and audio digitization knocks the dust off old album collections, cataloging tunes for easy playback on CD.