At The Royal Canvas Painting Parlor, owner Cassie Black and her staff of art instructors teach painters of all skill levels to create canvas-bound masterpieces. Each class blurs the line between artistry and social interaction, like when Leonardo da Vinci would bring the Mona Lisa to parties as his date. The focus falls on a predetermined painting composition, ranging from a quirky, cartoonish sheep for children's classes to re-creations of iconic works such as van Gogh's The Starry Night to challenge more adept artists. While students follow step-by-step instructions, they sip wine, nibble snacks, and rediscover their creative side.
Winner of the 2010 ENERGY STAR Award for Sustained Excellence, Lowe's has been helping customers conserve energy and expletives with home improvement, gardening, and hardware solutions for every budget. With the store's friendly handypeople as their guide, nail-pounding novices and seasoned remodelers alike can outfit their toolbox for any undertaking with more than 6,000 products between $25 and $50. Impress spouses and annoy car-pooling coworkers by ably installing ceiling fans into your car roof. Add lighting fixtures to darkling domiciles, or finally finish your back yard's Super Mario Bros. level with Lowe's garden tools. The store can also mix together a rainbow of hues for painting projects involving dining rooms, nurseries, and sweat lodges. Afterwards, you can clean up the dust with a 6-Gallon HP Wet/dry Shop Vac ($44.97), or rinse off caulk-covered corpuses under the Moen Brushed Nickel 7 Spray Pattern Shower Massager ($49.98). Regardless of your mission, the accommodating staff at Lowe's will offer expert advice for completing your home's improvements.
"Funky" isn't a word typically associated with hardware stores, but that's exactly how Amy and David Doyle describe Sunset Ridge Home & Hardware. Upon opening the place in 1995, the pair envisioned a one-stop hardware and home-improvement haven that shook off the sawdust and embraced the unconventional in ways that didn't include slapping googly eyes on every two-by-four. That's why the San Antonio Express-News' $hopGirl can cite a unique selection of Curly Girl wall hangings, hooded towels, and Texas cookbooks beside traditional tools and housewares sourced from Ace Hardware. An epic spread of Benjamin Moore paints and Breville kitchen products create an ocular feast for fixer-uppers as handcrafted soaps and fragrant candles ignite olfactory senses. Seasoned staffers roam the aisles, touting talents that include knife sharpening, key cutting, and lamp repair in addition to several other services.
Stocking its shelves with a wide variety of kitchen appliances, cutlery, dishware, and more, Melissa Guerra Tienda de Cocina provides guests with Latin American culinary goods in a colorful, highly perusable mercado-style venue. Customers can grace their munch mesas with a Chilean smiling-frog toothpick holder from Pomaireware ($10.95, toothpicks included), whose air-dried clay surface is polished with an agate before firing in order to silence ribbits of protest. A hand-blown etched martini/dessert glass ($24.95) enhances its contents with hand-etched details and vibrant turquoise, dark blue, and green hues (clear also available). A molcajete (Mesoamerican mortar and pestle) lends sauces a hearty flavor that steers dinner conversations toward infamous guac gourmands from the golden age of culinary exploration, such as the fabled Ponce de León. For aspiring chefs, Melissa Guerra carries various edible items, such as tamale ingredients, chilies, and sweets, and an assortment of artisan folk pieces is available for home and bodily adornment.
Artworks seeks to strengthen creative children's artistic instincts and inspire self-expression through classes and events that focus on experimentation and imagination. Art classes ($100–$150/10 classes) introduce children ages 2–10 to past artists and techniques through open-ended exploratory projects. Instructors encourage budding apprentices to creatively craft with media and materials rather than demanding exact likenesses of older siblings in papier-mâché. Classes are offered throughout the school year and into the summer at both the Nacogdoches and Mainland locations.
The trained ice artists at Signature Ice Sculptures handcraft each frosty luge, allowing party hosts to send liquids careening down ice art never touched a by mold or machine. Watch hotheaded beverages cool down as they trickle through the custom-designed luge, fashioned from a majestic 3.5-foot-tall block of Olympic-medal-winning frozen water. Bring a cold conversation piece to a fire-throwing party, or have the frosty chiselers sculpt a luge with the name of your grandmother's favorite cat for its birthday gala. The details of each sculpture last around four to six hours at 70- to 75-degree temperatures, and eventually melt down into equally beautiful puddle art.