From the aspiring Michelangelo to the amateur arts and crafts dabbler, Arts A Blaze Studio in downtown Lakewood Ranch is a haven for anyone with even an ounce of artistic flair.
Arts A Blaze offers a wide range of artistic outlets, including pottery painting, clay building, mosaic tiling and glass fusing in a family-friendly environment where artists of all ages and skill levels have an opportunity to let their creative side flourish.
“This is a place for everyone,” said Theresa Barion, who co-owns the studio with her husband, Dan. “From kids as young as two years old to teenagers, parents and grandparents, everyone gets to have fun creating.”
After working as a Wall Street bond trader for 20 years, Barion made a dramatic career change when she and her husband, a former officer of the NYPD, relocated to Florida. Accustomed to the pace of the Wall Street lifestyle, Barion had too much energy to simply relax into retirement.
“I began volunteering and substitute teaching at elementary schools and my husband was like, ‘You need something else to keep you occupied,’” Barion said.
Barion, who majored in art during college, decided it was time to turn back to her artistic roots. The couple opened Arts A Blaze in 2009, and the studio quickly distinguished itself for being the only one in the area to offer mosaic-making and one of the only places that offers glass fusing classes.
“The first year we were open definitely consisted of a lot of trial and error, since this was all so new to us, but we’ve steadily grown every year since we opened our doors,” Barion said.
Most people spend anywhere from one to three hours working on their piece in the studio. The hardest part for most people, Barion said, is choosing from the more than 60 paint colors the studio offers for pottery painting.
Once there are enough pieces to fill the kiln, Barion loads it and closes the lid for no less than 30 hours. Because the kiln needs to be full to operate, it isn’t run every day — but Barion said the maximum wait time to receive a finished piece is no more than one week.
“The most rewarding part about this job is when the kids see how their piece came out compared to when they started it,” said Barion. “Nothing I did on Wall Street was as rewarding.”
The majority of the clientele at Arts A Blaze consists of families seeking a fun multi-generational activity. The studio is also a popular “date night” location for couples who are looking for something a little more unique than dinner and a movie.
Each year, Arts A Blaze features a summer camp program for children five and up allowing them to use different mediums and techniques each day to create art they can bring home to keep.
During the school year, parents can drop their kids off between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. and enjoy dinner on Main Street while the kids paint a piece of pottery and watch a G-rated movie. Arts A Blaze also offers a ladies night.
The studio space at Arts A Blaze includes a separate room to host children’s birthday parties and other large groups like team building and religious groups. Additionally, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts can earn art, pottery and ceramics and clay merit badges from Arts A Blaze when they participate in activities at the studio.
The studio also offers art classes for homeschooled students, as well as behind-the-scenes tours of the studio to learn about the glazing and firing process.
While Arts A Blaze offers plenty of scheduled classes and activities, the studio is open seven days a week to walk-ins, as well. Barion said that “as long as they’re old enough to hold a paintbrush,” all ages are welcome in the studio — although for glass fusing and mosaic making, she recommends that participating children are at least five years old.
“I always just love seeing what comes out of the kiln,” Barion said. “You want to paint a purple turtle? Go for it. This is the place where everyone can come and create whatever they want.”
Arts A Blaze Studio is located at 8111 Lakewood Ranch Main Street, Suite 107. For more information, call 941-306-5840 or reach the studio by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.