The hardest part of the process at Glazed Expressions is probably picking a piece of pottery to paint. They have hundreds of ceramics available, from mugs and platters to decorative vases and trinket boxes. Once you've selected one, you can paint it however you like with a choice of glaze colors, and, for those who don't trust their freehand painting skills, stamps and stencils. Whether attending with friends, as part of an adult or kids' party, or on your own, the staff will fire your piece for you and have it ready for pickup within one week. Beyond readying pieces, the staff can also create custom ceramics, painting gifts for weddings, baby showers, or interventions for paper plate adicts per the customers' design requests.
Chalet stocks its 4.8-acre retail center with thousands of chlorophyll critters, including botanical buddies plucked from Chalet's own nursery in Salem, Wisconsin. When they're not giving plants rubdowns on the undersides of their leaves, more than 100 earthy retail employees (up to 350 seasonally) can help you pick out an African violet ($4) or a host of sprouting vegetables (starting at $3). Nab cache pots for $3 or a gurgling fountain for $40. Birdhouses made from recycled, century-old barns ($24) attract brightly fluttering worm-eaters, and a bag of soil laced with nutrients ($4) satisfies even the pickiest sprout. You can even get an outdoor chair ($99), a bag of dog food (starting at $14), and floral body lotions (starting at $9.75).
Customers can be reunited with their beloved garments the same day if they drop them off at Chicago's Discount Dry Cleaner or Kenny the Kleener in the morning on Monday–Saturday. The staff responsible for this quick turnaround has been at it since 1981, dry-cleaning delicate fabrics and laundering more resilient clothing such as knit shirts or hats that double as tea cozies. Besides cleaning clothes, they can alter garments to better fit customers' silhouettes and preserve wedding gowns.
At School of Rock, working musicians help aspiring rockers master the fundamentals needed to perform everything from quaking drum beats to shredding guitar solos. During the Rock 101 program, students attend weekly private lessons and regular group rehearsals with the ultimate goal of stepping out on stage together for a final performance at a real local venue. Both locations also offer summer camps, including a term focused on songwriting and recording, at the end of which students step into an authentic studio to record songs on its high-tech gramophones.
After the art of beading wrapped up Ayla Phillips Pizzo in its colorful embrace, she followed her passion to open Ayla's Originals, eventually creating her own line of jewelry, Ayla's Own, which has been featured in the Field Museum. On the walls of Ayla's shop, strings of Czech glass beads, gemstones, shells, and African beads boast enough colors to represent a rainbow or pay homage to a crayon collection. Filling the shop's floor space, cases brim with marcasite silver, oblong chunks of turquoise, and polished emeralds and sapphires. Bauble-stringing beginners can participate in regular classes taught by talented and worldly jewelry smiths that concentrate on various curricula, from creating dewdrop bracelets to wire wrapping the hands of a diamond-store security guard.
The style-sensitive staff at Gigi Bottega match patrons with chic and contemporary dresses, tops, and jackets. Options from more than 20 brands, such as Ketz-ke clothing and Stella & Dot accessories, are curated with a couture aesthetic and priced to accommodate a variety of budgets. Inside the bright-walled clothing boutique, the spindly limbs of stylish plants extend upwards from colored pottery amidst racks of seasonal body dressing.