Built in 1918, the Craftsman House's expansive, adobe-toned bungalow collapses time as visitors step onto a breezy veranda, walk past a lush carpet of flowers and fronds, and witness more American craftwork than they can shake an intricately whittled stick at. Blown glass, turned wood, and fine pottery and jewelry provided by a 300-strong network of local and national artists are just a few of the pieces that settle in at this homey abode. The building is so homey, in fact, that one artist hardly ever leaves. Surrounded by the courtyard, what was once an old-time carriage house is now the clay-caked studio of professional potter Stephanie Schorr. There, visitors can find her partway through many projects at once, crafting functional wares and feeding the carnival fire breathers that keep her kiln hot.
The historic hub of creative know-how hosts a multiplicity of events, including live music, gallery tours, and artistic workshops. In honor of the gallery's tireless community efforts, Craftsman House was named the 2011 Top Retailer for a Charitable or Philanthropic Event by Niche magazine.
Much like professional skydivers, wily coyotes, and other careers that involve a degree of danger, most professional glassblowers aren’t self-taught. Joshua Poll, however, learned to harness the glass furnace all by himself, today imparting more than a decade of self-taught experience to Zen Glass Studios, where he and fellow glass smith David Walker create custom works of art by hand. Together they shape glass into authentic and unique pieces, including custom glassware and jewelry to wear while meeting a spouse’s goldfish for the first time.
Within their studio, Joshua and David teach workshops and classes, during which students survey basic to advanced glass-blowing techniques, crafting their own handmade objects such as ornaments, beer glasses, and vases. The duo also runs a full glassblower training program, which follows a syllabus structured to arm all students with all the necessary skills to set out on their own in the industry, just as Joshua did all those years ago.
The Morean Arts Center connects visitors with myriad forms of modern art, welcoming them to explore galleries, a glass studio, and a clay workshop, all of which host classes and events. The Chihuly Collection showcases a permanent exhibition of world-renowned glass-blowing artist Dale Chihuly's work. His magnificent bright forms, many of which are inspired by nature, spiral toward the ceiling, housed in a 10,000-square-foot structure designed by award-winning architect Alberto Alfonso. A visit to the Glass Studio and Hot Shop immerses guests in the creation of glass works, as artists manipulate molten glass into vibrant orbs and vases. At the Center for Clay visitors can get their hands dirty in forming delicate earthenware during classes and open-studio time.
At being, owner Amy Bromley draws on her two decades of professional design experience to help shoppers convert their spaces into breathtaking expressions of style. Throw pillows burst with geometric and animal-print designs in the show room, which also holds kiln-dried hardwood furnishings and handmade jewelry and accents. Like the formal plaid suit of a lumberjack, pieces in the show room express both an elegant gentility and rustic, rough-hewn ethos. Shoppers peruse vases carved from driftwood, tables made from twisted roots, and candleholders made of silvery deer antlers. The attentive staff at being works hand in hand with homeowners to help make over living spaces with in-home appointments and full-scale consultations from professional designers.
The all-female staff at Milagros, who proudly believe in “long, hot baths” and high-quality ingredients, routinely handcraft half-pound bars of Sister Agnes soap from glycerin, a natural humectant that deftly draws moisture and magnets to the skin. Their selection of soaps evokes innumerable essences, from the intoxicating musk of a wine cellar to the homespun nostalgia of the linen closet. The friendly instructors happily impart their squeaky-clean art to budding soapsmiths, teaching them to create with a variety of shapes, colors, and scents during 90-minute classes.