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Looking for a unique holiday gift? Give a shared experience


Blown glass ornaments at Phoenix Studio and Gallery.

Stuffed owl pillows by Emleehandmade.

Kathy Gibson of Arthouse3 installing work in a client's home.

Art advising by Kathy Gibson of Arthouse3.

Wood burned skateboards by Giovanni Casiano at Flash Point Pyrography.

Stained glass sea horse night light by Beth Kauffman.

Indicolite tourmaline ocean pendant by Red of Fractal Wraps.

Aaron Ryley, 8, builds a robot at Tampa Hackerspace during Kid's Open Make Day.

A partially loaded kiln at The Potter's House Studio in South Tampa.

The Potter's House Studio - a "You Paint It" pottery studio in South Tampa.

Tampa Bay makers create one-of-a-kinds. Some create beautiful simplicity with practicality and meaning, and others incorporate interactive experiences so anyone can be a maker for a day. 

Here are a few makers and maker spaces where you can find something special for the holidays or take a family member or friend for the gift of shared experiences.

Blown Glass at Susan Gott’s Phoenix Studio and Gallery 

Blown glass workshops offer a fast, fun experience, where beginners walk away with professional looking pieces made within minutes.

Phoenix Studio and Gallery in historic Seminole Heights is offering intro level “Make Your Own Ornament” glass blowing classes on Dec., 15th, and 16th, with individualized 30 minute sessions for $59. Others can watch or shop for oil lamps, paper weights, vases, and sculptures.

“There’s a certain immediacy that you can’t get from other materials,” Susan Gott, a renowned glass artist and owner of the Phoenix Studio and Gallery said.

It’s recommended for participants to wear long pants, short sleeves, and close toed shoes for classes.

Emleehandmade

Michelle Hill, based in St. Pete, creates colorful cloth collages with simplicity. Bags, fish, owl, and bear stuffed pillows are crafted using fabrics that people may think normally wouldn’t go together - but they do.

Her patch work creations are inspired by Zakka, a Japanese and Scandinavian style using embroidered cutesy-style stitchery with a whimsical flair.

Zipper pouches start at $15. 

“I love buying fabric and turning it into something that makes people happy,” Hill said.

Her work can be found at Paper Seahorse in the SoHo district of Tampa, and at Strands of Sunshine in St. Pete.

Art advising by ArtHouse3

Gibson of ArtHouse3 based in St. Pete, has a passion for creating gallery exhibits which evolved into helping people pick out and arrange art in their homes, or businesses.

Tapped into a vast network of local talent, she packs up her jeep with diverse regional collections, and brings them to client’s homes. They can see each piece on their walls before buying, and she helps with arranging the art for a fresh look. 

Her services and prices are customized, and she also offers gift certificates.

Flash Point Pyrography by Giovanni Casiano

Giovanni Casiano of Flash Point Pyrography is a fast track Tampa-based maker who has been wood burning for three years, and turned it into a business a few months ago.

He recreates photos, quotes, and portraits on wood planks and skateboards made of maple, oak, pine, and sometimes exotics.

“My art is for the people,” Casiano said. “I try not to make a huge profit margin on most pieces to keep my art affordable for people like me who appreciate art and don’t have a six figure salary.”

He has inventory, and takes custom orders via Instagram. Also by email at flashpointpyro@gmail.com.

Beth Kauffman at ArtLoft 

Beth Kauffman in St. Pete has been working with stained glass for 30 years, making Florida marine-life themed night lights, and wall hangings.

She makes acrylics on canvas, fused glass earrings and pendants, and her ‘Legend Series’ where she collects glass from historical sites. Kauffman reclaims glass with photo infused images on window panes, sometimes using sea glass from the Florida Keys.

She’s often found in her studio at The Art Lofts on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 11 am - 7 pm or you can contact her by email or on Instagram for appointments.

Fractal Wraps by Red

Gordon Rojo, known as Red, is a Tampa native based in Clearwater who wire wraps gems and minerals, describing his pieces as the embodiment of the feminine, or symbolic of human emotions.

“I’m the maker,” he said. “It’s up to the wearer to interpret their own meaning.”

Some are interested in the aesthetics and detail of his work at Fractal Wraps, while others are appealed by the crystals, minerals, and their meanings.

“It’s not just jewelry,” Red said. “It’s an expression.”

The best way to catch him is at the Art Throwdown & Open Air Art Bazaar, Dec., 16th at Mandalay Park at Clearwater Beach, or via fractalwraps@gmail.com.

Tampa Hackerspace

Tampa Hackerspace is a member-driven community workshop space located on Nassau Street in the Westshore Area. They offer tools, workspace and classes for hobbyists and entrepeneurs. Member interests include robotics, electronics, 3D printing, art, and much more.

A variety of classes are offered, including interest areas from Kids Open Make to leathersmithing to sewing to lock picking to laser cutting to soldering to 3D printing to circuitry. Gift memberships start at $150 for three months. Class fees range from $5 to $55 per class.

For more information visit the Tampa Hackerspace website.

The Potter's House Studio

For those who want to create collective memories, they can paint their hearts out at The Potter’s House Studio in south Tampa.

Josie Reed, a former Hillsborough County school teacher, opened her “you-paint-it” style pottery studio five years ago, accepting walk-ins, parties, and corporate events. 

A client who is a grandfather, started a tradition of bringing his family to the pottery studio to paint together for Christmas. They’ve painted dessert plates, and later ate goodies from them together. Another year they painted mugs, bringing snacks and refreshments to the party, then drinking hot beverages from their collective creations as a family.

“Nobody is on their cell phones, or watching TV,” Reed said. “They are sitting together creating a memory. It’s a great time for bonding.”

Walk-ins and all ages are welcome, even infants where little feet and hand prints are used to decorate pottery.

“Tell us your vision, and we’ll help you accomplish it,” Reed said. 

Read more articles by Amber Sigman.

Amber Sigman is a photographer with over 16 years experience covering both small-town and international stories; from a Florida woman visiting her native Cuba, to sacred spots in Thailand, and underwater adventures in Florida’s springs. Amber also taught photography to teenagers with the theme “The World is Your Classroom” in Southeast Asia honoring both her love for education, and diversity. When she isn’t taking pictures, she can sometimes be found globetrotting, snorkeling, or volunteering with animals.
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