The Glass Workbench?a stained-glass and glass-making specialty store?began as a family-owned enterprise in 1975. Back then, owners Glen and Joanne Bishop chose an old-style building on South Main Street to create their shrine to the age-old art of glassmaking. Now on the National Register of Historic Places, the building's 2-foot-thick Burlington limestone walls enclose the shop's inventory of supplies and books about glass arts. They also house mosaic stained-glass artworks by Julie Bishop Day, Glen and Joanne's daughter, who developed the stepping-stone technique for glass decoration. Local crafters take advantage of glassmaking workshops and admire the work of the staff's resident artisans, whose custom stained-glass pieces portray nature imagery and legendary moments in history such as when Ben Franklin invented Windex.
Launched 5 years ago, Mattress Source has grown from a plucky family-run enterprise to a regional institution, soothing aching backs and brightening up dream times with masterfully engineered mattresses of all makes and types. Models from brands such as Simmons, Corsicana, Restonic, and Spring Air enrich the third of your life spent asleep and the eighth of your life spent practicing trust falls with thick, long-lasting constructions designed to support and relax the body. The inventory promotes deep sleep and good health through a range of mattress types, from the strong, nonsagging innerspring design to the pillowy comfort of sheets of memory foam and latex.
At The Great American Diving Company, swimmers and scuba enthusiasts plunge into a 10-foot-deep, custom-built training pool heated to a balmy 85 degrees. Under the guidance of PADI-certified instructors, students in Open Water Diver classes learn to breathe and explore beneath the surface, opening the doors to continue underwater education and obtain certification or finally put to rest a fear of really big puddles. Divers can gear up for their next expedition in the shop, and the staff also leads scuba trips to diving locales.
Knit and Caboodle's owner, Connie, learned to knit at an early age by watching her mother loop yarn into garments. Today, she teaches others to maneuver knitting needles during weekly classes at her St. Charles shop. She begins by helping clients select a skein from a collection of more than a 1,000 yarns that include strands from area sheep and alpaca farms. Then she teaches participants to knit or purl their strands into cozy accessories or full-body cocoons. Connie's favorite fiber at the moment is wool, which she calls "very forgiving," adding, "it will make you look like an expert."
The cakesmiths at Cherie's Kitchen forge artful cupcakes, cookies, and cakes in the flaming maw of their double electric convection ovens. Inventive cupcake flavors such as pink velvet, mocha, and key lime strut around display cases in a livery of boredom-defying frostings, including salted caramel and green tea. When they're not catapulting baked goods into the mouths of hungry customers, the staff imparts their bakerly craft during classes that teach students the secret of whipping up homemade frosting and baking sundry pastries of all sorts, including cake pops.