It's hard to walk into the Art & Soul studio at 80 Main St. in New Canaan without fighting the temptation to sit down and start messing about with one of the myriad craft accessories.
But that's exactly what owner Pam Heberton would like to see -- children and adults alike drawn into the stress-releasing creative process and given the opportunity to just have some fun with art.
Having taken over the 16-year-old business four years ago, Heberton is just completing a major renovation on the second-story studio space just south of the firehouse. To celebrate she'll host an open house from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26.
"It was getting old and tired," Heberton said of the store, where she originally began teaching seven years ago.
Along with making the large, sun-bright space more user-friendly, she has also extended some of the offerings for artists.
"Fused glass," she said, sharing some exotic decorative samples that have been created by visiting artists. "I love this stuff. You can really have fun, and it's gorgeous. It's real glass, and then we just fire it."
Sharing the various pieces that people begin to work with as they experiment with this unusual art form, Heberton said, "It's very cool."
Explaining that she came across it at a trade show, Heberton said, "We're the only ones in Fairfield County where you can walk in and do this."
Heberton, a longtime Darien resident, has two grown children who graduated from Darien High School, where her husband, Dick, works as a chemistry teacher.
When she first began at Art & Soul, it was a "PYOP" place -- paint your own pottery -- offering a range of figurines that could be decorated and later fired in the kiln. It then expanded to include beading and, later, mosaic work.
"It's always been called Art & Soul," she said, "and it's always been in this place. ... But now we've done a lot of work," including adding bigger tables and redesigning the space to make it more compatible with the work.
At one time, Heberton was a trial lawyer in California, although she's originally from this area.
"I would always do any crafts," she said. "It's fun. It's very soothing."
Carrying that belief into her business, Heberton said, "We try to have soothing things here. People are always happy here."
Along with regular classes and open times for spontaneous visits, Art & Soul offers special events for adults, as well as kids, such as Ladies' Night, Kids Holiday Parties and Wine & Design evenings.
"We went to Wine & Design," said Susan Ligouri, of Darien, who was hesitant about going after a hard day of work.
"Within minutes I was rejuvenated," she said. "The owner, Pam, greeted me with such enthusiasm, my energy returned. ... (It) was not only fun, but surprisingly relaxing."
Diane Whelton, of Wilton, who takes classes at Art & Soul, said, "To me, creativity is a release of all the stress of a crazy day. The great part is you don't have to be masterfully creative to achieve a piece that is beautiful and, yes, meaningful.
"Art and Soul is inviting," she said. "It's bright, cheerful and is well-stocked with projects from the bead bar to the glass fusion. ... Pam has created a wonderful environment for anyone of any age."
The studio is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. For information, call 203-972-1610 or visit visitartandsoul.com.