Best Place to Make Art With Your Kids 2017 | artSPARK Creative Studio | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
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You won't find any copycat projects here! Drawing on elements of Montessori education and TAB (Teaching for Artistic Behavior), the founders of artSPARK concocted a community-based lab where burgeoning artists of all skill levels can receive top-notch training that's taught in context. Each of the program's weekly classes begins with a lesson on technique; from there, students are challenged to create a unique project with their own ideas. From 45-minute parent/tot classes to longer drop-off sessions, an after-school club and tween and teen evenings, there's something for everyone in your family. Classes work like a yoga studio's: Purchase a package, and come in when it's convenient for you.

Mother/daughter duo Sydney and Cornelia Peterson brought the wild spirit of the garden with them when they opened Sacred Thistle, a florist shop and cabinet of curiosities in the Golden Triangle. Their artistic, asymmetrical arrangements of overripe blossoms and elegantly curved stems and strands of greenery look like Dutch Master paintings in the round, while the rest of the shop unlocks precious secrets right and left, in the form of housemade sage bundles, syrups and bitters hand-bottled by Colorado-based Dram Apothecary, along with magnificent geodes, beeswax candles and fine silver jewelry. Because the next step after purchasing flowers is often selecting a gift. Go in beauty.

Women friends have a way of sharing stories intuitively and with love — trading lore, so to speak, while enriching one another's lives. And Lore, which began as a craft-market vendor before moving into a Five Points brick-and-mortar in the fall of 2016, follows suit. The boutique emphasizes the same give-and-take philosophy of sharing, whether it's over a curated cup of tea; in a class, while you're making anything from sourdough loaves to linoleum prints; or by way of the handmade, thoughtful and restorative wares on its shelves. Lore invites you to come visit for a while and share your story, too.

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At Yore, quality is definitely more important than quantity. Created by Longmont couple Ryan and Savannah Johnson, Yore makes the most of minimalism, offering home goods that are simple, functional and ethically well made. In other words, you can expect less plastic and more real materials, such as wood, stainless steel and natural fibers. You can also expect these items to be slightly pricey, but also long-lasting — and very pleasing to the eye.

Whether you're embarking on a one-night camp-out with your family, hiking a Fourteener or touring the backcountry on your skis, you'll need reliable and quality outdoor gear. Enter Topo Designs, a local line putting out a wide range of trendy, simple products made with Coloradans in mind. Bags, activewear and accessories reflect the sleek aesthetic inherent in the company's flagship RiNo store, which is constructed entirely of reclaimed shipping containers. Once you've shopped Topo's bags — choose from dozens of duffels, totes, messengers, daypacks, briefcases and more — stuff your selection with gear: tech Ts, popovers, flannels, puffer jackets and fleeces, along with belts, hats, footwear and accessories like tumblers, camera straps and snap wallets. Check out Topo's blog, In the Wild, for inspiration.

The success in Colorado of such Swedish imports as IKEA and H&M boded well for Fjällräven, a respected outdoor outfitter known for its functional, durable and dependable products that opened a flagship store last fall just off the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder. Not only does the store have a cool name — fjällräven means "arctic fox" in Swedish — but it also has a concept that's easy to get behind. Since founder Ake Nordin began to market his old-fashioned innovation back in 1960 in northern Sweden, Fjällräven has spread around the globe, bringing with it good-looking garments made from recycled and sustainable materials, not to mention the company's signature wood-frame backpacks, which are crafted to fit comfortably and distribute weight effectively.

Jewelry maker Christy Lea Payne's reputation precedes her. Payne's rustic, hand-stamped, impeccably styled — and often imitated — work has long flourished in established Denver boutiques like Kismet, Talulah Jones and Decade. Each and every piece is unique, which can rarely be said even of handmade jewelry in an assembly-line world. Now Payne has added her own South Broadway store to the list of local outlets, where you can go directly to the source to search for pieces that fit the wearer like a favorite old T-shirt. Hot right now at CLP: "What's Your Word?" bangles engraved with the words "resist" or "nasty," necklaces dangling precious stones and shamanic charms, personalized bracelets and CLP dog tags — the real kind, for your dog.

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After years of building up her line of organic, chemical-free botanicals and sweet-smelling beauty products and gaining a national reputation, Brandy Monique finally opened her own Fig+Yarrow storefront in Highland. Even though some of her products are now available at Target stores, this is a sweet spot where you can check out the merchandise on a more human level. Choose from all-natural body scrubs, masks, complexion waters, moisturizers, mists and balms in this tidy shop.

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Ironwood left a hole on South Broadway — and in our hearts — when the boutique's owner, Alyson Two Eagles, shut the shop's doors on New Year's Eve. But before she did, she made sure the space would live on with suitable replacement: the different yet vaguely similar Rosehouse, a plant store, gift emporium and apothecary conceived and run by Lynn Flanagan-Till, an herbalist and co-founder of the R.L. Linden line of natural beauty products. If you ever wanted to really know the secret lives of plants, Rosehouse is the place to learn: Flanagan-Till and her educated staff will sell you ready-made botanicals or give you tips on how to use plants to mix your own lotions, oils and remedies. Look for the shop to spill out onto the street with greenery when planting season begins in earnest, and don't forget to wander indoors to look at changing art exhibits, gifts, garden supplies, teas and potions.

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All is not lost for metro-area model railroaders: Caboose Hobbies, which closed its doors last year, has been resurrected under new ownership as simply Caboose and relocated to Lakewood, near the Federal Center. Retooled to be more inviting to enthusiasts old and new, with a bigger presence online and on social media, the new Caboose strives to keep an old-fashioned hobby alive, up to date and vital in the age of bullet trains, jet airplanes and rockets to Mars. Whether you're three years old and ready for your first Thomas the Tank Engine toy or an old hand with a cool setup in the basement, Caboose is still the local go-to.

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