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 cartoons.osu.edu.

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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 www.pyramidhill.org 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 marcysclayground.com.

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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 glassaxis.org.

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The Pizzuti Collection: Explore 18,000-square-foot gallery space for free on first Saturday of month

Explore 18,000-square-foot gallery space for free on first Saturday of month


The Pizzuti Collection: Explore 18,000-square-foot gallery space for free on first Saturday of monthThey say art is in the eye of the beholder. And when that beholder’s eye belongs to your own child, it’s fun to see her facial expressions when roaming around a contemporary art museum.

I saw awe, joy and utter befuddlement upon my daughter’s face as we explored the Pizzuti Collection in Columbus’ Short North Arts District. Rosie’s unique eye for art influenced my own, as I found new appreciation in quirky pieces, such as a headless, silver figure made out of a tube of paint, as we explored the museum on the first Saturday in October.

“This is my favorite,” Rosie said of the paint-tube man at Pizzuti’s monthly event called the Family Day Series. On the first Saturday of each month the museum is open free of charge to families, who also can partake in an art-inspired scavenger hunt from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Guided tours are offered at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

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“I think it’s a great opportunity to take the family out to see and do something new and exciting,” said Mark Zuzik, programs coordinator.

The first Saturday of the month also is the Gallery Hop in the Short North, as most in Columbus know, making Pizzuti’s event the perfect prelude to a full day of exploring dozens of galleries along High Street.

The Pizzuti Collection, which opened in 2013, offers rotating exhibits of works belonging to real estate developer and art collector Ron Pizzuti and his wife, Ann. The couple has amassed thousands of pieces over four decades of collecting. The non-profit exhibition space spans three floors in an 18,000-square-foot revamped building, with more art outside in the sculpture garden.

The Pizzuti Collection is located at 632 North Park St., Columbus. For more information, visit pizzuticollection.org.

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The Smithery: Make memorable, metal trinkets at Grandview shop

Make memorable, metal trinkets at Grandview shop


The Smithery: Make memorable, metal trinkets at Grandview shopI find the most memorable adventures to be hands-on experiences. And, they’re even more memorable when I get to make a keepsake along the way.

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

The Smithery: Make memorable, metal trinkets at Grandview shopI 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 to complete my project, and it cost less than $20.

I chose to embellish a precut heart charm for a necklace. Other options included making a pet tag or a key chain.

Once I selected my charm, I was instructed to tape it to a metal block to prevent it from slipping. I used a brass hammer to firmly tap the ends of metal pegs that had raised shapes and letters on the opposite ends. Doing so left imprints on my metal heart.

I picked from a variety of metal stamps including letters, numbers, punctuation marks and familiar shapes.

The Smithery: Make memorable, metal trinkets at Grandview shopThe hardest part was deciding what to create. I decided to squeeze three names onto my charm. My first attempt revealed a crooked “m.” But I quickly decided that any imperfection added personality and confirmed that it was handmade.

I finalized my piece by adding a few flowers. I also learned I could quickly make my piece look aged by filling in the indented metal with black, permanent marker. I was pleased with my final product, now one of my favorite pieces of jewelry.

The Smithery is located at 1306 Grandview Ave. For more information on workshops, visit shopthesmithery.com or call 614-867-5780.

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Paper Moon Art Studio: Put your imagination to the test at interactive gallery

Put your imagination to the test at this interactive gallery


Paper Moon Art Studio offers art classes for adults and children in the Columbus community of Clintonville. I found out about this fun studio while attending a children’s birthday party with my kids.

Owner Kristen Marra Marek led party guests in the making of a variety of crafts, including paint-splattered posters and cardboard puppets. Marek, who has a degree in art education from Ohio State, has a knack for engaging children in the creative process.

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One craft had the children circling around a piece of poster board. Each child held onto a section of the board as Marek squirted on colorful globs of paint. The children were challenged to cover the surface of the board without letting any paint spill off.

Squeals of joy ensued as the children moved the board around, and the result looked like the spin-art creations I made as a child at the fair.

Another craft had them dressing cardboard puppets in fabrics and objects found around the studio, such as bells, beads and buttons. My daughter chose to dress her puppet in summery fabrics. She drew a face and glued on a necklace. My son made his look like a robot by gluing on lots of tinfoil. The projects tested their imagination and their ability to use a glue gun, which they easily mastered.

A great way to sample the studio’s offerings and supplies is at a monthly family event aptly called “2nd Saturday Family Nights.” Parents and kids can stop in from 5-8 p.m. to work on a themed art project. The cost is $25 per family. Advanced registration isn’t required, but calling ahead to reserve a spot is good idea since space is limited.

The Paper Moon Art Studio is located at 4145 N. High St., Columbus. For more information, call 614-332-9149 or visit papermoonartstudio.com.

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