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Ornament classes big at Jeffrey Auxer Designs in Berlin

(Dec. 3, 2015) Visitors to Jeffrey Auxer’s studio in Berlin might have noticed the large “Open During Construction” sign hanging from the side of the building.
Last Saturday, shoppers also may have noticed the 100-plus people who lined up for ornament-making classes, an annual tradition at the shop and gallery for the last six years.
Auxer said the expansion is mainly the addition of a 700-square-foot apartment on top of the building. The house was built in 1896and the section that currently houses the shop was added in the 1950s.  
He sought approval for the project earlier this year from the town’s historic district commission and Economic and Community Development Director Ivy Wells helped Auxer secure a $10,000 façade grant to help with exterior improvements.
Barbely’s Construction of Newark performed the majority of the work, with Auxer pitching in by running supplies. Things didn’t always go smoothly, however, and at one point Auxer said he learned the job would require four 2,500-pound reinforcement pilasters to prevent the walls from bowing.
New walls also had to be carefully constructed around the massive furnace wire that’s required to keep a 200-amp constant flow running downstairs. Auxer said he’s a “top-three” consumer of electricity in Berlin.
“It wasn’t the easiest process to make everything fit correctly, because the exterior walls were not square from being 120 years old,” he said. It’s kind of interesting, though, that 120 years later the people that built it probably would never had guessed there would be an apartment on top of it.
“It was a lot of work, but it made the building look better,” he added.
Auxer said construction, which started in October, is close to complete, and that it would not affect the shop itself.
“I’ll be around more, but I don’t know how much more I’ll be open,” he said. “It just allows me to be closer to the equipment. I pretty much lived here anyway.”
He kept the shop open during the entire process, which was essential during the busy lead-up to the holiday season that reached a fever pitch last Saturday.
“It was imperative that we stayed open during this time. We can’t afford to be shut down,” Auxer said. “We did a record 111 [people] last Saturday – we’d never had that many in one day.”
He estimated that the classes in total, which ran from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., brought as many as 300 people to the town.
“It was crazy,” Auxer said. “We didn’t get a break because they were just lined up out here.”
Additional classes are set for Saturdays Dec. 5, 12 and 19, and another is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 22. Appointments are required and the fee is $25 per ornament – the same as the retail cost of ornaments in the store.
“It’s an experience and it’s something that we try to do to bring people out as families,” Auxer said. “It becomes a tradition for people – that’s what we’ve noticed the most. The people from six years ago still come.
“It’s a nice way for people to come as a family and do something a little bit different, and then they get to take something home with them each year to have and remember the time they made it,” he added.
For more information, call 443-513-4210 or visit