What do you get when you’re on vacation and you bring yourself, one of your best friends, and a couple of your crazy ideas from Pinterest, into an art studio?
A whole lot a fun and a tangible souvenir of a fabulous trip.
My husband and I vacationed in the Florida Keys in February 2016 with our friends, Greg and Mary. The four of us did many things people do while at a vacation rental in Marathon – relaxed, read, sunbathed, ate, (highly recommend for lunch the Shrimp ‘Po Boy at Brutus Seafood and Market), rented a boat,
and gawked at the beautiful homes around Marathon.
One morning, Mary and I went to The Art Studio just down the road from our rented home for the week to indulge ourselves in creativity.
The Art Studio, situated in Marathon at Mile Marker 53.6, was the perfect place to do so.
Specifically located at 12535 Overseas Hwy in Marathon, the brainchildren behind The Art Studio’s existence are its owners: Sam Stephens, and Steve and Sheila Cook.”The three of us knew we wanted to be a part of an artsy business,” Stephens said, “but at first we didn’t know what that would mean.”
They started in 2013 by renovating a warehouse once known for housing marine parts. Those early days involved some long and hot hours of hauling debris away. “We removed old boat parts,” Stephens said, “pulled everything out, polished some things and even kept a few things such as a table we now use for people to create on. We tried to do everything cost effectively.”
Turns out, frugality and creating a space for one’s imagination to run wild is a beautiful combination. When one enters the shop, you can’t help but notice the here-and-there visual bursts of original ideas, talent, and design.
From the pallet wall, built from repurposed shipping pallets,
to the repurposed bike in the bathroom,
to the numbered stairway, the workshop’s visual prompts boast that this is a place where creative expression is nurtured and welcomed.
On the day Mary and I were there, people were in working-with-their hands mode, whether it was locals working on their clay hand-building projects, working at a potter’s wheel, or others like us, who were there to experiment with glass fusion. Whether you’re a seasoned artist, a local, or in the Keys for a vacation, there’s something for everyone to do at the studio.
“Our goal is to bring in locals or visitors and to provide a safe learning environment for people to learn different mediums of art,” Stephens said. “We have people come in who never thought they were artistic and, fairly quickly, have changed their minds.”
One of the people who helped Mary and I do just that was Jessie, who Stephens said, is a jack-of-all-trades, and primarily works as the studio’s glass artist. Jessie’s background is in interior design, but at the studio she works in the glass workroom with adults, helps with children’s birthday parties, helps homeschooled children complete their art credits as well as conducts classroom-sized art field trips for schools in the area.
The glass fusion area, where Mary and I spent most of our time, holds various works of art. Behind the saw is a beautiful mosaic wall made from stained-glass remnants, which Sheila and Jessie created.
Mary and I arrived, armed with a couple of Pinterest-inspired ideas, and Jessie had us at work on our glass fusion projects in no time.
My project was a row of five sailboats.
Mary’s idea was to make a glass-like painting of what one might envision a day at the beach would look like.
Each of our projects was $35.00 and took us one-and-a-half hours to complete as well as returning twenty-four hours later to collect our kiln-dried project. I mention this so that in case you go to The Art Studio to do a glass fusion project that you allow enough time for your project to be fired in the kiln. Our vacation ran from a Saturday to a Saturday. We visited and created on a Thursday and collected our creations the next day.
It took me awhile to learn to use the tool that would break the glass. I also struggled to shape my glass pieces and worried they weren’t edged perfectly. Turned out that once the piece was put in the kiln, the rough edges added definition to the sailboats.
Once I had the pieces in place on the glass, the next step was to wash the glass and then lightly glue the pieces down on the background clear glass. Jessie recommended we take a picture of our projects before disassembling them to make it easier for us to remember how our projects went together. Doing this was a life-saver for me. I also needn’t have worried about any residual glue marks. The glue left no trace when fired.
Our experiment with glass fusion resulted in both Mary and I loving our time there. Jessie was so helpful and steered us to making good glass choices and really took the time to help us make the projects we wanted to do.
The next day we came to collect our masterpieces and we could not have been more pleased with the results. So next time you are in the Keys, set aside some time to release that creative genius inside of you and pay a visit to The Art Studio in Marathon. They are on Facebook here or at http://Facebook.com/theartstudiomarathon.