Thursday, November 29, 2012

Akron Glass Works

Akron Glass Works is located in the Northside District, directly across from Luigi's.

Akron Glass Works
by Joanna Wilson

You may already be familiar with glass blowing demonstrations that you can watch at Akron Glass Works during the Art Walk each month.  But did you know that Akron Glass Works has extended their demonstrations throughout the holiday season to include every Saturday night from 6-9pm?

Here, Jack Baker works the liquid glass at the end of the long pipe, as he adds bits of colored glass.

At one of the demonstrations, you watch through a large picture window into the studio as a glass artist takes liquid glass from a 2100 degree oven onto a long pipe, adds color, and works the hot substance into a desired shape.  Right now, the studio is busy making blown glass bulbs--colorful light catchers to be used as Christmas tree ornaments or gorgeous window decorations.

Look how these bulbs catch the light! 

Akron Glass Works even offers workshops to make your own blown glass projects.  Though the current ornament workshops are already full, Jack shared with me that you can still take advantage of an open workshop day on Saturday, Dec. 15th from noon until 10pm--no reservations needed.  For more information, you can call them or check out the link to their website: Akron Glass Works.

Jack finishes this ornament with adding a bit of liquid glass at the top, creating a loop so the bulb can eventually be hung.

I first met Jack Baker, the owner of Akron Glass Works, at the Urban Eats Pumpkin Slaughter carving contest at Musica last Halloween.  Remember the Akron Empire/blimp pumpkin I carved?  This week when I stopped by the studio, Jack was kind enough to allow me to make my own glass blown ornament!  Several things I learned: gravity is a powerful force that is constantly tugging at the liquid glass--so you always have to keep the pipe level with the ground and slowly twisting to keep it attached to the pipe.  The multi-step process to create a glass ornament includes three ovens--the first one stores the liquid glass, the second is used to heat the pipe and re-heat the ever-cooling glass as you manipulate it.  And, the third oven slowly cools the finished glass ornament over a 12 hour period.  Yeah, it's warm in the studio!

The gift shop includes more than just ornaments.  There are bowls, vases, paper weights, and other glass delights.

This month's Art Walk is this Saturday, Dec. 1 and Akron Glass Works will be holding their glass blowing demonstrations from 6pm-9pm.  What an interesting way to spend a Saturday night!  If you're like me, you're keeping your eyes open for locally-made items to give as Christmas presents.  The gift shop at Akron Glass Works is certainly the place for that!

The gift shop is filled with these locally made, gorgeous glass ornaments-what a wonderful gift idea.

Akron Glass Works is located at 106 N. Main Street, Akron OH 44308
Phone #: 330-253-5888
Facebook page: Akron Glass Works

holiday hours: Mon-Thur 12pm-6pm, Fri 12pm-8pm, Sat 12pm-10pm *glass demos from 6pm-9pm*

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Shop Local This Holiday Season!

More Opportunities to Shop Local
by Brit Charek

Regardless of whether or not you made it to Crafty Mart this past weekend, there are still plenty of opportunities for you to buy reasonably prices handmade goods made right here in the Greater Akron Area.

This Saturday is Artsy Mart, from 10am to 8pm at Summit ArtSpace presented by the Akron Area Arts Alliance in cooperation with the monthly Akron Art Walk. If you've never been to an Art Walk, this weekend would be the perfect opportunity to experience this unique Akron event. There's free parking in the Main Library garage, just a block away from Summit Artspace. From there, you can hop on the free trolley that runs between galleries and local businesses downtown.

The Akron Zoo is having their annual Trunk Sale on Thursday night, November 29, featuring local artisans who make animal-themed and/or re-purposed or upcycled goods. If you're a Zoo member, you'll get 20% off your gift store purchase, and for each $10 spend you'll be entered in a raffle.

But wait! There's more! There's also the Portage Trail Barn Sale in the valley starting on Thursday December 6 and wrapping up on Sunday December 9.

Another great place to purchase local handmade gifts is DevilStrip Dolly's, Akron's only self proclaimed "anti-gallery" and leader of the "Keep Akron Weird" movement. It's a great place to shop especially if you're looking for something a little offbeat. While you're parked make sure to check out The Bomb Shelter next door for all things vintage.

For the music lovers, make sure to head to Square Records in Highland Square, and drop by Revival next door while you're there or across the street to The Market Path, where you can find fair trade gift items from all over the world.

If you're willing to travel, Collective Upcycle, who sell strictly re-purposed and upcycled items, is setting up shop downtown Cleveland and the Cleveland Handmade Markets' Last Minute Market on Saturday December 15 at the Screw Factory is a must! Also check out the Cleveland Craft Coalition's Annual Handmade Holiday Show that same weekend, on Friday December 14 and Saturday December 15 at Breakneck Gallery in Lakewood.

Look for the cute little flags!

Is there any place we left out? Let us know your favorite local shopping destinations by emailing us at akronempire [at] gmail dot com.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Fourth Annual Crafty Mart at Musica

The Fourth Annual Crafty Mart
by J Hudson

design by

I met my Crafty Mart co-founder, Juniper Sage, while shopping at Square Records the record store she owns with her husband Dave in Highland Square.  I like to support local businesses and so I buy my records and cds there instead of from big box retailers.  I also like to shop local art shows for holiday gifts.  About eight years ago, when I worked in downtown Cleveland, a designer coworker gave me the heads up about a new holiday bazaar on the West Side called Bazaar Bizarre.  The first time it happened in Cleveland I loaded my kids in the car and made the drive up to check it out.

It was in an old warehouse in a run-down section of Cleveland’s Near West Side. The vendors all had fun handmade products that you can’t find in the mall or in a chain store.  Juniper was one of the vendors.  She was selling bowls made from old vinyl records, coasters made from the LP labels and a variety of knit goods. Both my kids and I loaded up on presents that night and then drove home in the snow for an hour.

The next time I went into Square Records, Juniper and I talked about Bazaar Bizarre.  I told her how much I liked it and wondered if Akron had a show like this. She said she didn’t know of one.  I said there should be and she agreed.

The next December, the same thing happened again and this time, we said we should put one on but we didn’t.

Then the next year, we said it again, except this time we actually did it.  We began meeting in the summer of 2009 along with my daughter Juliet and began planning an Akrocentric, idioscycraftic holiday market that we called Crafty Mart.

artwork for the first ever Crafty Mart!

The good people at Musica volunteered their space for a Saturday in November.  Juniper and I filled Musica with a mix of our artistic and crafty friends.  That first Crafty Mart had about 500 patrons.  Since then, we’ve had a show each fall and spring. We’ve expanded into We Gallery and Uncorked Wine Bar on High Street above Musica and we now have around 55 vendors and about 1000 shoppers at each show.

As Juniper and I grew busier with our regular jobs, we started succession planning and asked our friend and Crafty Mart vendor Brit Charek to take over Crafty Mart. Despite being very busy herself, Brit agree and is running this year’s Crafty Mart. Juniper and I are helping where we can, but Brit has taken over and is a doing a great job.  Brit has even developed a relationship with the Akron Area Arts Alliance and that group is putting on Artsy Mart the same day as Crafty Mart.  Artsy Mart is going to spotlight local fine arts artists.

Artsy Mart will take place the same day as Crafty Mart at Summit Artspace

This year’s Crafty Mart is on November 24, 2012 from 10am to 5pm at both Musica (on Maiden Lane) and We Gallery (on High Street).  Artsy Mart is taking place at the Summit Art Space at the same time, and again on December 1.  For full details, go to the Crafty Mart website at

Thursday, November 15, 2012

2012 Akron Comicon: Review

2012 Akron Comicon: Review
by Joanna Wilson
Photos courtesy of Erick, special correspondent from Wonderful Wonderblog

Akron Comicon was last weekend, Saturday Nov. 10th.  Since then, I've seen a very long list of bloggers complimenting the first-ever Akron Comicon, co-founded by Michael Savene and Robert Jenkins.  From the sound of it, this is headed to be an exciting annual tradition you won't want to miss.

Welcome to Akron Comicon 2012!

I asked Erick from another blog Wonderful Wonderblog to be Akron Empire's special correspondent at this first-time event.  He knows more about comics and conventions than anyone else I know, so I trust his judgement about this event.  He agrees with what I'm hearing:  THIS was a well-organized, well-attended, fantastic event.  Erick can't wait for next year's Akron Comicon, already scheduled for Sat. Nov. 9th, 2013.  Here's a collection of photos from last weekend's event:


Joe Staton

Gerry Conway

Norm Breyfogle

Tom Batiuk

Mike W. Barr

Chris Yambar
Bob Ingersoll

Cosplay attendees:

Judging the costume contest


Winners of the Akron Public Schools Comic Book Cover Contest

HeroClix Tournament

Additional fun:

Local Star Trek group: USS LaGrange.

Fans shopping for comic books

Fans could also look at and purchase toys and cards.

JC Comics & Cards--sponsors of the HeroClix Tournament

John from Kenmore Komics and Games--sponsors of the comic book cover contest

Thanks Erick and PSY!

If you'd like to read more reviews, please check out the Akron Comicon Facebook page (click HERE for the link) because they are re-posting them.  Will you be joining me next year at the next Akron Comicon?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Local Author Joanna Wilson, Christmas Television Expert, Releases a New Book

People In Your Neighborhood: Author Joanna Wilson
by Brit Charek

Did you know that one of the co-founders of Akron Empire, Joanna Wilson, has an interesting day job? She’s a Christmas entertainment writer and the author of two books, Tis the Season TV: The Encyclopedia of Christmas-themed Episodes, Specials and Made-for-TV movies (2010) and The Christmas TV Companion (2009). Her special knowledge and exhaustive research has gotten her invited to appear as a commentator on the History Channel’s The Real Story of Christmas documentary and TV Guide Network’s 25 Most Hilarious Holiday TV Moments. Last year, she was asked to participate in the 40th Anniversary celebration of the Christmas TV movie The Homecoming and moderate The Waltons cast reunion that followed.

Joanna is the author of Tis The Season TV as well as The Christmas TV Companion. Her third book will be released next month.

Next month she has a new book coming out, Merry Musical Christmas Volume 1--the first in a series of five mini-books about watching your favorite Christmas carols in TV episodes, specials and movies. Volume one is devoted to the best of Christmas music performed within TV sitcoms and dramas.

She’s hosting a meet and greet at a local screening of the classic 1990 movie Home Alone on Dec. 15 at Plaza Cinemas at Chapel Hill.  Before and after both screenings that evening, Joanna will be there to talk to people about their favorite Christmas entertainments--she will also have all three of her books for sale--you can even get one signed by the author! What a great gift idea. Check out the event on Facebook for more information:

Joanna is also excited to participate in the Santa Hustle 5k and Half Marathon race being held on Sunday, December 16th at Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH. Remember the cheering party she organized last September for the Akron Marathon? Joanna is also a runner and she will be running the 5k race on that day. Even if you’re not a runner, you can come to the Santa Hustle and cheer on the thousands of others all dressed as Santa Claus! Make sure to bring your camera. Then stop by the Post-Race Party and meet Joanna--this is another opportunity to pick up one of her books and ask her about your favorite Christmas TV special from your childhood.

You can also follow Joanna's adventures this holiday season on her blog, Christmas TV History or follow her on Twitter @TistheSeasonTV.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Lockview Goes Vegetarian!

Vegetarian Night at the Lockview
by Brit Charek

The Lockview has quickly established itself as a staple of downtown Akron. 

It's located on Main Street in what was formerly a concert venue known as the Lime Spider. Before that it was known as Bilbo's Pub, appropriately named since the stone facade of the establishment still somewhat resembles a place where a furry-footed Hobbit might stop in for a pint. Now the Lockview is a restaurant that specializes in gourmet grilled cheese. 

Before you brush them off in favor of a rapidly growing chain in the Cleveland area that sounds suspiciously similar, you should know that the Lockview isn't all that similar. They serve all their sandwiches exclusively on bread baked fresh at Breadsmith's of Lakewood ranging from rustic Italian to hearty multi-grain. (Don't worry! The option for good old Texas Toast is still there too!) All sandwiches are served with homemade coleslaw and goldfish crackers, but for a minimal upcharge you can enjoy fries or tots. I'd recommend going for the sweet potato fries.

This list is probably not still accurate, but it gives you an idea of the vast selection of obscure beers available.
You can't mention the Lockview without talking about their extensive beer list. They offer a dozen beers on draft as well as over 150 different types of imported beers and micro-brews in bottles and cans. If you're not a beer drinker, that's ok. They also have an extensive wine list and feature interesting cocktails.

My favorite sandwich at the Lockview is the Number Five which has goat cheese, diced portobellos and caramelized onions and garlic topped with swiss but on Monday, November 19 I'm excited to order my first Number Six! I've always avoided it since I don't eat read meat and its main ingredient is bacon.

Much too my excitement, the staff at the Lockview are graciously offering vegetarian (and even some vegan!) options for curious herbivores on one night only. To find out more information, visit the event's Facebook page by clicking here. Reservations are recommended.

The Lockview is located downtown at 207 S. Main St. To learn more and even browse their menu, visit their website at

Monday, November 5, 2012

Akron Comicon **TICKET GIVEAWAY**

Yes, you read that headline correctly!  Akron Empire is giving away 2 general admission tickets to Akron Comicon.  Let me remind you that Akron Comicon is THIS Saturday, Nov. 10th at the University of Akron's Student Union Ballroom from 10am-6pm.  Did you see the Akron Empire post about this special event?  Click HERE for the link to see that blog post again.  Click HERE for Akron Comicon website.

We'll pick one winner for the prize of two tickets.  To qualify for the prize giveaway:

leave a comment below with the words "I want to go to Akron Comicon!"  You can enter again on Facebook and Twitter by commenting with the words "I want to go to Akron Comicon!" at the following locations:

facebook page: Akron Empire
twitter: @AkronEmpire

So you could enter up to three times by leaving the correct comment once at each of the three locations.  This runs from today, Mon Nov. 5th--Thurs, November 8, noon (ET).  On Nov. 8th at noon, I'll use to generate a number from the total number of qualifying entries to select a winner.  Good luck!  Thanks to Akron Comicon for generously supporting this giveaway! 

The University of Akron's Student Union building

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Akron Comicon -- Saturday, Nov. 10th

Akron Comicon: Saturday, Nov. 10th, 2012
by Joanna Wilson

In one week, local comic book fans can be a part of a new tradition:  the Akron Comicon.  This inaugural event will bring the creators/artists, dealers and fans of comic books and newspaper comics  together in one location.  Akron Comicon is being held conveniently at the University of Akron's Student Union Ballroom, a large venue that will house 72 exhibitors spaces which include creators, dealers, media organizations, and clubs.  For local fans of comics, this event promises to be a special opportunity that you won't want to miss.

Fans have a chance to meet 37 creators, fifteen of which have been or are working professionals in the comic-book industry with their works published by mainstream publishers in the industry including DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Image Comics, and Archie Comics.  Several of the biggest names include Mike W. Barr, an Akron native and writer of the first Batman graphic novel; Tom Batiuk, the creator of the nationally syndicated comic strip Funky Winkerbean--which celebrates it's 40th anniversary this year; Gerry Conway, a prolific writer who is well-known for his contributions to Marvel and DC comics; and Joe Staton, an artist whose work appeared in the best-selling Scooby Doo book, and who currently illustrates the Dick Tracy Newspaper Strip.  I recognize another special guest, Chris Yambar from Youngstown, who will be in attendance.  He's well-known for his work on The Simpsons comics--and I have one of the Mr. Magoo Christmas Carol graphic novels he worked on.  For more information about all the guests at Akron Comicon, please check the guest page at the website, or click HERE.

You can find Akron Comicon at the University of Akron's Student Union Ballroom on the third floor

You can expect more than just special guests and vendors at this new Akron Comicon.  There are also many events scheduled including six panel presentations, a HeroClix game Tournament, a costume contest, and the Akron Public Schools Comic Book Cover Contest will take place.  For more information about these events, please check the events page at the website, or click HERE.

You don't want to miss out on all that's happening on Saturday Nov. 10th.  Doors open 10am-6pm.  Pre-sale tickets are only $8 and available at the website HERE.  That price is good until 10am on Wed. Nov. 7th.  General Admission tickets at the door are $10 each.   Senior Citizens can get in for $5.  University student tickets are $5 with student ID.  Children under 10 years old are FREE.

For more information, check the website:

Facebook page link: Akron Comicon

The University of Akron's Student Union: 303 Carroll Street, Akron, Ohio 44325
There is plenty of free parking in nearby lots.