FastFrame first germinated in Europe before spreading to Japan, Brazil, Australia, and the United States. A trained local helms each of the 300 locations, and guarantees every design for 30 days and the craftsmanship for a lifetime. Artisans crown original works of art and prints with ornate mouldings. They also store historical artifacts and three-dimensional memorabilia in shadow boxes. FastFrame’s team has even been known to frame sports equipment, plasma-screen televisions, and childhood homes.
Hidden just east of Cobb Parkway, a complex of low, slate-blue warehouses shelters a community of textile workers, sculptors, and graphic designers intent on refining their art. Beads by Design's shop and atelier contributes to this creative wellspring, and today the Southern Flames—a society of glass-bead makers—gather there for their monthly meetings. The shop opened in 1998, displaying a wealth of Japanese Delica seed beads, fire-polished and pressed glass beads, pearls, gemstones, and glittering Swarovski crystals under the high, exposed-metal roof. Visitors can pick up notions or tools, or stick around for jewelry-making classes. These begin with the basics of knotting wire rings and stringing necklaces and expand into the creation of broad, beaded cuffs inspired by Ndebele jewelry and macramé techniques for braiding copper wire. To give students complete creative control of their work, instructors provide propane torches attached to work tables, and safely teach how to fabricate glass beads and intimidate nay-saying critics.
Imagine That! and Future Tech founder Kelly Williams has always loved science and art—up until her children were toddlers, she had spent her life building a career as an environmental engineer working for the EPA. But when she began volunteering as a leader of art and science programs at her local church and school, she unexpectedly discovered that she loved teaching children even more. Since 1995, Imagine That! and Future Tech learning centers have fostered a passion for science and technology in students aged 3 through 14. Alongside hands-on, age-appropriate instruction in the basics of physics, chemistry, and simple machines, the kids learn to work futuristic wonders such as building and programming robots to navigate obstacle courses and follow instructions. Science camps and workshops at locations all over the Atlanta metropolitan area give children a firm foundation in the sciences and prepare them for tomorrow’s world of ever-more-advanced computers and automatic doors.
The friendly workers will help you mine the Hive's massive assortment of freshwater pearls ($7 and up for a 16" strand), Czech glass beads ($2 and up per strand), and Swarovski crystals ($0.15 and up). Once you've determined your decoratives, you can also find the beading tools ($6.95+) you need to transform them into glittering earrings, retro-elegant necklaces, and tiaras that grant +5 dexterity. The Bead Hive also arranges birthday parties where crafty kids age 6–9 ($12 per child) can transform memory-wire chokers, beads, and charms into one-of-a-kind ornamentation. Older miniature novelty adults (aged 10 and up; $15 per child) can work the same magic with a more advanced Loopy Tattoo beaded necklace or charms.
Founder and director Lauren “Miss LaLa” McBride stirs inspiration in artists of all ages at her triple-pronged studio focused on the visual, musical, and theatrical arts. Painters, illustrators, potters, and wannabe fashion designers can all find a class to suit them, and for younger artists, M.A.D.—or Music and Arts Development—Mondays foster creativity in kids from the cradle through elementary school. In the theater department, the studios' pint-size play-actors have put on such shows as The Lion King, Little Shop of Horrors, and The Little Mermaid. Miss LaLa rounds out her programming with fitness classes such as yoga and fencing, preparing kids for Hamlet and Laertes' famous asana duel.
A massive collection of stylish adornments at warehouse prices, Decorating Mart packs more than 10,000 pieces of furniture (starting at $79.88), accessories (starting at $5.99), fabrics (starting at $4 per yard), and more into 50,000 square feet of décor decadence. Untamed, overstocked pieces from major manufacturers make Decorating Mart a temporary depot until loving buyers convince them to settle down. Browse armoires, bedroom and dining sets, and accent pieces in traditional and transitional styles to complete too-bare rooms, or purchase fine fabrics from top makers to reupholster chairs damaged by persistent rhinestone-jacket crazes. Decorating Mart also stocks a large selection of wallpapers and borders and can special order more styles from its library of hundreds of sample books.