Rock out! Paint stones, spread joy this summer by Wendy Pramik

Paint stones, spread joy this summer

Rock out! Paint stones, spread joy this summer by Wendy PramikLast summer while on vacation in the tiny northern community of Lakeside, Ohio, we took pleasure in the art of painting rocks. It seemed everyone up there was doing it to pass the time and adorn their cottage yards along the shores of Lake Erie. The playful rocks were everywhere, hiding in plain sight as avocados, lady bugs and SpongeBobs.

Back home in Columbus, we’ve been trying to find things for the kids to do as the coronavirus pandemic continues to limit travel and curb the opening of attractions. I thought we could have some fun painting rocks of our own. It’s an oddly therapeutic activity, transforming dull stones into whimsical creations.

It’s also fun to write inspirational messages on them, such as “you rock,” or “don’t take life for granite,” and hide the rocks in your neighborhood for others to find.

Painting rocks is easy. We found stones that had at least one flat side worked well. We also collected pieces of slate from a nearby stream. If rocks are in short supply, you can always buy some from a landscaping store.

Get some paint — acrylic works best — and a set of brushes of varying sizes. Permanent markers and paint pens are good for writing messages. It’s not necessary, but you can apply a base coat first and then seal your work with a coat of gloss.

Up your game by joining a rock-hiding group. Here are four, including three in the Buckeye State: the Kindness Rock ProjectNortheast Ohio Rocks, Ohio Rocks Rule and Columbus Ohio Rocks.

Participants paint rocks and hide them. If you find a rock, take a photo of it and post it on the groups’ Facebook page, then re-hide the rock. You can use hashtags to follow the whereabouts of favorite rocks.

Rock on!

Rock out! Paint stones, spread joy this summer by Wendy Pramik

Rock out! Paint stones, spread joy this summer by Wendy Pramik

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Chalk art by Wendy Pramik

Dabble in public art this summer

Chalk art by Wendy PramikArt can help kids process their thoughts and emotions, or simply get them engaged a bit more during the summer.

Our kids took to the driveway with a pail of chalk sticks, after seeing there’d be a stretch of sunny days. They spent hours turning a section of the drive into a patchwork of colorful shapes that now delights others who walk by.

Preparation is easy. You can buy basic chalk and other newfangled chalk-application devices such as powdered chalk in a bottle. You add water and apply with a spongy roller. Other products allow you to spray on liquid chalk, but we found this technique didn’t work so well. Basic chunky chalks worked best.

Our kids used masking tape to define the boundaries of their design. They also used tape to create a geometric pattern that when finished resembled stained glass.

Up your game by encouraging others on your street to do the same and have a neighborhood gallery. It’d provide a great backdrop for an evening stroll.

Chalk art by Wendy Pramik

Chalk art by Wendy Pramik

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Made in Cbus Trail: Make keepsakes at four central Ohio shops, earn a tote bag

Make keepsakes at four central Ohio shops, earn tote bag

I find the most memorable adventures to be hands-on experiences. They’re even more meaningful when I can make a keepsake along the way.

The Smithery: Make memorable, metal trinkets at Grandview shop

Such was the case when I tapped the letters of my family members’ names onto a bronze heart while making a necklace at the Smithery in Grandview Heights. The shop offers metal smithing classes for adults and children, and has a gift shop full of neat, handmade creations by local artisans.

The Smithery: Make memorable, metal trinkets at Grandview shop

I participated in a “Make and Take” workshop that included choosing a charm, stamping it with decorations and threading it onto a chain. It took about 30 minutes, and it cost less than $20.

Plus, I received a stamp in my Made in Cbus Trail passport, taking one step closer to receiving a free tote bag from Experience Columbus.

The Smithery is one of more than 30 central Ohio stops on the Made in Cbus Trail. Visit one to pick up your trail booklet. Shop and collect stamps at any four, and you’ll receive a Made in Cbus tote bag, compliments of the visitors bureau.

Below are three more do-it-yourself projects we completed along the trail.

Candle Lab
Multiple locations throughout central Ohio

“Wasabi,” “Snickerdoodle,” “Old Books.” We considered these peculiar fragrances when we set out to make our own candle that captured our personalities at the Candle Lab in downtown Worthington.

The Candle Lab is a specialty store where customers can buy pre-made, scented candles, or concoct their own. Fragrance selections vary by season, and you can choose up to three scents to blend. The candles are made of pure soy wax, which burns long and is environmentally friendly.

The process of picking a scent, mixing it with liquid wax and allowing it to harden takes a little over an hour. Most candles cost less than $25.

Popular fragrance recipes among the younger crowd include mixing “Bubble Gum” and “Watermelon” to produce a scent resembling watermelon-flavored Bubblicious chewing gum. Another mixes “Campfire,” “Toasted Marshmallow” and “Dark Chocolate” to yield a s’mores-scented candle.

I settled on an earthy trio of pineapple, peach and patchouli, since I’m a sucker for alliteration.

The Candle Lab’s fragrances are stored in amber bottles with white labels. We poured each of our selections into a bartender’s jigger. Then we emptied the mixture into an 8-ounce tin filled with soy wax and a wick. Voila! In an hour’s time, we had our personalized candles.

There also are Candle Lab store locations in Grandview Heights, the Short North and near the Greater Columbus Convention Center.

Igloo Letterpress

You might not think of a print shop as a place to take your family. But Igloo Letterpress in Worthington is a great place to visit for personalized stationery and related classes.

For instance, you can take classes in bookbinding, calligraphy and the art of letterpress printing. Owner Allison Chapman uses seven printers, including one that dates to 1892, to create stunning letterpress works of art.

Allison told me the old printer came from her grandfather, who was a printing hobbyist. The same equipment is used to make greeting cards and posters sold in the store, including an impressive farmer’s market series.

Igloo Letterpress also offers handbook binding, custom stationery and a variety of unique cards. Allison says stationery-making is the most-popular class. Participants use antique wood and metal machines to typeset their names and then complete the printing process.

The stationery class costs $40 and can be scheduled by appointment via the company’s website. No appointment is needed to make a book at the Book Bar, where you can quickly put together a journal for less than $10.

Better yet, pair a visit to the Book Bar with a visit to the nearby Sassafras Bakery, which has a milk-and-cookie happy hour from 3-5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Wild Cat

Wild Cat is an independent business in the heart of Clintonville that’s just as creative and wild as its name suggests.

Here you’ll find an assortment of T-shirts, coasters and nightlights touting local institutions such as Tee Jaye’s Country Place and Nancy’s Home Cooking.

You also can learn lots of off-the-wall skills, including how to make pom-pom earrings, a crocheted unicorn toy or a watercolor painting of succulents. You can even learn how to read tarot cards.

We like to pop in on Saturday mornings during the Clintonville Farmer’s Market, when Wild Cat offers free activities for children.

We’ve strung plastic beads to form friendship bracelets and cut construction paper into strips to create super-hero wristbands.

My daughter also made a necklace with interchangeable magnetic pendants while attending a birthday party.

Enjoy more pics of these do-it-yourself adventures:

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Artful adventure in Lancaster: Explore creative pursuits in historic downtown

Explore creative pursuits in historic downtown

Artful adventure in Lancaster: Explore creative pursuits in historic downtown

Lancaster’s history is steeped in creativity. It’s the home of the Anchor Hocking Company, once the world’s largest maker of glass tableware. Today, artistic enclaves can be found throughout “Glass City,” near the Hocking River, just 30 minutes southeast of Columbus.

We found a bounty of opportunities for budding artists at businesses along Main Street in Lancaster’s historic downtown. We painted ornaments in a paint-your-own pottery studio, gazed at glass in a museum and toured an art exhibit at another. In between, we admired the unusual murals that decorate the alleys and parking lots.

All the while, we appreciated a slower pace and individualized attention at the businesses we visited, not to mention an absence of traffic and ease of parking.

Art & Clay On Main
150 W. Main St., Lancaster

Artful adventure in Lancaster: Explore creative pursuits in historic downtown

We started our adventure at Art & Clay On Main, located within a cheery, sea-foam green building in the heart of downtown. Here, you can order an espresso from the onsite Square Seven Coffee House and pick a piece of unpainted pottery from the shelves.

There’s no need to make a reservation, and the process is simple. We arrived at Christmastime, so among the plates, bowls, mugs and vases, we chose ornaments.

We filled our plastic palettes with paints, then sat at paint-splattered tables. The kids went freestyle with their designs, while I examined finished pieces for inspiration.

I took my time painting a cupcake design, enjoying the serenity of smearing on layer upon layer of dull glaze. An instructor helped me add bits of color that would later resemble sprinkles.

I saw on the calendar that local musicians periodically play for patrons and thought what a joy it would be to paint and listen to live music.

We left our pieces on a tray to be glazed and fired, and retrieved them the following Saturday, pleased as punch.

Ohio Glass Museum and Glass Blowing Studio
124 W. Main St., Lancaster

Artful adventure in Lancaster: Explore creative pursuits in historic downtown

Get a handle on Lancaster’s glass-making history and even blow glass yourself at the Ohio Glass Museum and Glass Blowing Studio, one of four museums in the downtown area. Others are the Sherman House Museum, Georgian Museum and the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio, mentioned below.

I visited the glass museum on my own, after retrieving our family’s painted pottery next door, thinking that maybe a place that’s protecting precious glass isn’t the best spot for children. Au contraire!

The glass museum is a wondrous setting, filled with colorful glass collections that pay homage to Ohio’s once-booming glass industry. They include examples of vaseline glass, which contains uranium and glows under a black light. What kid wouldn’t like that?

I also learned that abundant supplies of natural gas and sandstone in this nook of Fairfield County made it a logical choice for the establishment of the glassmaking industry.

Visitors can produce glass pieces at the on-site glass-blowing studio. Classes, starting at $27, cover how make ornaments, flowers, paperweights and Pandora-like beads for a bracelet. Also be sure to check out the gift shop that’s chock full of locally made merchandise.

Decorative Arts Center of Ohio
145 E. Main St., Lancaster

Artful adventure in Lancaster: Explore creative pursuits in historic downtown

See an art exhibit at the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio, located in the 1835-built Reese-Peters House adjacent to the Sherman House. The museum, open Tuesday through Sunday, is free to visit.

I popped in while the artwork of Nelly Toll was on display, and was impressed by the magnitude of the exhibit, which included more than 40 prints of her childhood paintings. When Toll was eight years old, she and her mother went into hiding for two years from Nazis occupying Poland in 1943. Amid tragedy, young Toll envisioned a brighter life through her watercolor paintings.

Besides thoughtful exhibits, check out the onsite Wendel Center for Art Education for equally thoughtful classes such as the Adult and Child Watercolor Workshop and the Art of Manners, where kids ages 8 through 17 can learn about table manners and cell phone etiquette.

While you’re in town, have lunch at JB’s Downtown Grill, 111 N. Columbus St. They’ve got kid’s entrees for less than $3, juke boxes on every table and tasty homemade ice cream cookie sandwiches.

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Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum: Find world's largest collection of comics right here in Columbus

Find world’s largest collection of comics right here in Columbus

Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum: Find world's largest collection of comics right here in ColumbusAs a teen, I delighted in snatching the comics from the Sunday paper before my older brother. I’d read through Garfield, Bloom County, and For Better or For Worse before settling on my favorite, Calvin and Hobbes.

The adventures of 6-year-old Calvin and his stuffed tiger, Hobbes, seemed to jump off the page thanks to the brilliance of Bill Watterson. The Chagrin Falls native didn’t confine his characters to rows of squares but let them roam in his allotted space.

I recently got to relive my joy for this beloved comic strip while touring the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum in Columbus with my 10-year-old daughter.

Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum: Find world's largest collection of comics right here in ColumbusThe 30,000 square-foot facility, located on the Ohio State University campus, houses the world’s largest collection of materials related to cartoons and comics, including editorial cartoons, comic strips, comic books and graphic novels – my daughter’s favorite.

The library and museum came to be in 1977 with the founding gift of artwork and papers of Ohio State alumnus Milton Caniff, who created the comic strips Terry and the Pirates and Steve Canyon. The museum is named after the Ohio cartoonist Billy Ireland.

Its primary mission is to develop a comprehensive research collection documenting American printed cartoon art and provide people access to these resources.

Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum: Find world's largest collection of comics right here in ColumbusAlmost everything in the archives is available upon request in the Reading Room. The museum has two galleries for exhibits, which change twice a year, and a permanent exhibit called the Treasures gallery.

The archives hold the largest collection of Japanese comics outside of Japan, some of the earliest cosplay costumes, and almost all of the original art from Calvin and Hobbes, which ran daily from 1985 to 1995.

I look forward to unraveling what’s inside this gem of a destination. In the words of Bill Watterson, “The best presents don’t come in boxes.”

The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum is located at 1813 N. High St., inside Sullivant Hall on the Ohio State University campus. Learn more at

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Pyramid Hill: Inspiring outdoor sculpture park in the Miami Valley

Drive golf carts around 300-acre sculpture park in southwestern Ohio

Pyramid Hill: Inspiring outdoor sculpture park in the Miami ValleyWhile recently exploring the Butler County Donut Trail in search of pillowy rings of sugared dough, to our great surprise my family of four also experienced a tasty cultural morsel.

We visited Pyramid Hill, a 300-plus-acre sculpture park in Hamilton, Ohio, on a sunny Saturday afternoon and fell in love with its quirky character and compelling artwork. It presents more than 60 sculptures amid the rolling hills of southwestern Ohio, with the mood ranging from quizzical to thought-provoking.

The park was made possible by Harry Wilks, a local lawyer and philanthropist who purchased the land in the 1990s, saving it from development. Wilks died in 2014.

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The best part was driving a rented golf cart around the pretty property that’s dotted with lakes and gardens. I wasn’t surprised to see a wedding happening near a sculpture called Age of Stone, which brought to mind Stonehenge.

Other notable outdoor pieces included The Cube, a Rubik’s Cube-like structure that spins on its axis, and Paul, a bench that’s missing its midsection. It was amusing trying to take a seat on it.

Pyramid Hill: Inspiring outdoor sculpture park in the Miami ValleyWe were amazed to stumble upon what we considered the highlight of the park: the Ancient Sculpture Museum, a curated collection of artifacts dating to 1500 B.C. that was Wilks’ personal collection before the museum opened in 2009.

The collection includes Greek, Roman, Etruscan, Syrian and Egyptian sculptures. There’s also a wonderful courtyard modeled after a Roman residence.

Pyramid Hill is open 365 days a year and attracts more than 30,000 visitors annually.

It’s located at 1763 Hamilton Cleves Rd., Hamilton. For more information, visit or call 513-868-1234.

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Marcy’s Clayground: Make memorable works of art at paint-your-own-pottery studio

Make memorable works of art at paint-your-own-pottery studio

One of my favorite memories of attending Garfield Elementary School in Medina, Ohio, was when Mrs. Werger brought out big slabs of gray clay for us to fashion into works of art.

In first grade I made a basket that I painted “robin’s egg blue” – that’s what the bottle labeled it. Although my basket lacked luster when I handed it over to my art teacher, it came out of the kiln as a vibrant, colorful object d’art.

Our children recently had a similar experience at Marcy’s Clayground, at 6685 Dublin Center Dr. in Dublin. Marcy’s allows you to select a piece of unpainted pottery off a shelf, paint it and pick it up one week later after it’s been fired.

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There’s no charge to use the space, so you potentially could work on something for weeks, using the space as your studio. We stayed for several relaxing hours. Our daughter selected a piece that portrayed a dragon atop a castle. Our son chose to paint a piggy bank because he loves pigs.

The kids weren’t crazy about the dullness of the paint on their artwork. The real thrill was returning a week later to retrieve the creations. The rich colors and shiny glaze brought them to life, just as I remember with my robin’s egg blue basket.

Our kids proudly display them today on their dressers.

Marcy’s website touts having more than 150 ceramic items and more than 80 shades of paint. Prices range from $3-$50. You’re charged half the cost of the figure to decorate it. So if an item costs $10, it’ll be $15 after you paint it.

For more information, visit

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Glass Axis: Have a ball playing with fire at Franklinton art center

Have a ball playing with fire at Franklinton art center

Glass Axis: Have a ball playing with fire at Franklinton art centerIntroduce youngsters to the art of glassmaking at Glass Axis, which offers hands-on workshops to adults and kids as young as 8 years old.

Glass Axis is a workshop and gallery located inside a warehouse in the neighborhood of Franklinton, just west of downtown Columbus. It’s been in Columbus in various locations for 30 years, but the budding arts district feels like home.

I took a beginners’ workshop called a “first-experience” class through my employer. My coworkers and I created spherical glass ornaments. I enjoyed getting a feel for the process without having the fear of getting burned. My experience seemed suitable for children.

One by one, our instructor, Jacci Delaney, guided us through the steps of making an ornament while those not participating watched from the bleachers. My personal lesson lasted about 15 minutes and included twirling a glob of molten glass at the end of a metal rod in a fire pit, dipping the hot glob into two bowls of colored glass bits, and blowing into a tube with a reed-like tip to form my glass bubble.

Delaney performed the more difficult steps, such as gathering the initial glob of molten glass on the rod, shaping the ball of glass and removing the ball by gently tapping a mallet on the rod. She also formed a glass hook so I can hang my ornament.

Glass Axis: Have a ball playing with fire at Franklinton art centerThe experience was just enough for me to appreciate the complexities and fragility of the art form, as well as taste the sensation of blowing my own glass object. I’m excited to display my ornament at home and proclaim, “Yeah, I made that!”

Other workshops include blowing a glass pumpkin, sculpting a paperweight and making a Pandora-style bracelet. Costs range from $39 for the first-experience workshops to $85 for a glass on making a stained-glass heart.

Not ready to play with fire? Observe other glass blowers by attending a free demonstration from the bleachers. While there, check out the gallery, which holds an annual spring sale in mid-May.

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Glass Axis is located at 610 W. Town St., Columbus. For more information, Call 614-291-4250 or visit

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