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.
Googly eyes. Gas masks. Mannequin arms. Blowguns. Ax-Man Surplus Stores dares crafters, DIY enthusiasts, and tinkerers of all stripes to dream bigger, better, and weirder with an enormous stock of new surplus items. Each shop's collection of oddities and odds-and-ends resides in open-air barrels and on easily browseable shelves. Bins entice shoppers to rummage through metal bits in search of the next piece to a welded sculpture, and other aisles hold several decades’ worth of electronic wiring, fans, speakers, and fuses, perfect for building a robot that every generation can relate to. Frequent shoppers are rewarded with a new truckload of treasures every week, along with an ever-changing collection of signs that artistically warn of the hazards of shoplifting and suggest off-label uses for the merchandise. World Famous Design Junkies praised Ax-Man for its signage and its selection alike in 2009, calling it “the greatest place to buy do-hickeys in the entire world.”
After shaking hands with the homeowners who let them inside, Magic Carpets' technicians immediately drop to the ground, where, after a quick nap in a sunbeam, they tuck measuring tape into every crevice and corner. These complimentary measurement sessions exemplify Magic Carpets' devotion to meticulously cut floor coverings, including HGTV’s Home Flooring by Shaw collection, with more than 500 styles of carpets, area rugs, hardwood floors, and laminates. Highly durable carpeting, such as the Fun Event line, swathes floors in more than 30 available colors and dons a foot-pleasing texture protected by a 20-year warranty. More than 200 area rugs cover up cold floors with bold, contemporary patterns. Homesteaders can also leapfrog across Easton laminate flooring, a hearty four-layered material that suits high-tread areas, or stand tall on a hickory-hued Abilene hardwood floor, which is elegant but sturdy, like a titanium top hat.
When Mercedes Austin sees a piece of artwork, her imagination immediately breaks it down into pixels and rebuilds it as a tile mosaic. Recently, she executed this process by making a mosaic of a wall mural: She fabricated jagged tiles, arranged them to resemble the original, and grouted the piece together. The resulting mosaic speaks to her intuition as an artist, and also to the years she’s spent honing the craft.
At Mercury Mosaics’ studio, Mercedes and a team of “tile elves” share their passion in two ways: through mosaic classes and custom installations. Classes explore all facets of mosaic creation, from cutting and gluing to grouting tiles into a pattern that resembles a real-life object or fuzzy television screen. Installations, which are fully customized to the client’s specifications, add a distinctive flair to commonly tiled areas such as bathrooms, backsplashes, and fireplaces.
With an eye for bold design, the staff at FinnStyle curates clothing, home décor, and other goods from Finnish designers including Marimekko, Iittala, and Artek. The online store and brick-and-mortar building house wares that have been featured in magazines such as Lucky, Dwell, and The Nest. Among the items, colorful bolts of Marimekko fabric await future occupations as curtains, pillow covers, or dresses, and Kalevala jewelry designs, modeled after archeological finds from the Iron Age, form bold statement pieces for the neck, ears, and wrists.
Started in 1998, Fired Up Studios has quickly evolved from a small pottery studio to an art center with classes and a gallery. Despite this growth, its mission remains the same: to raise the spirits of anyone who enters. In the 7,200-square-foot studio, experienced potters provide a judgment-free creative outlet for students and visiting artists alike, inviting them to have fun and experiment with the studio's collection of pottery wheels, kilns, and glazes. These potters also teach students how to throw clay, shape up elegant bowls and vases, and sculpt pixelization onto nude figures.