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November 2009
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January 2010

fortunes

Happy New Year!  We hope that you and yours enjoy a very happy & successful, creative & colorful New Year!  We are thankful for every little thing that every person has contributed to Anthology - not just in terms of dollars and cents, but in terms of the moral support, the appreciation, the kind words, the creative inspiration... the list goes on.  We closed out 2009 today and are happy to report tremendous growth as we have learned much about running a business, have stretched ourselves as artists, have filled in spaces on the walls and in the drawers, and, yes, have even increased our sales (double digits, no less) compared to 2008.  Thank YOU!  Thanks to the many artists who share their work and fill our shelves, thanks to our customers who appreciate the collection we've gathered and our hours of hard work, thanks to our friends and family who provide such support and patience, thanks to this amazing and inspiring world, and thanks to every little ounce of creative energy.

Just last night a customer came into the store and said to me, "I love this place.  There is such care everywhere, everything in it has such heart.  It makes me a little misty-eyed."  And honestly, people tell me things like that EVERY single day!  Wow! Am I lucky or what?!

And really, all I was intending to say here on the last day of 2009 was thank you, but of course, there are other things that come to mind.  Chief among them is looking ahead to 2010.  Sachi and I are already busy thinking up some new projects, both for ourselves, and also for the craft table.  We will be going to the Craft & Hobby Association trade show at the end of January.  We are greatly looking forward to the trip, and not just because it is in southern California (though that doesn't hurt).  Last year, we found lots of new art supplies and project ideas and inspiration and we can hardly wait to see what we bring back this year!  I'm also hoping to add to our craft party selection and have been spending a lot of time browsing online.  So many things to see and do!  Martha Stewart.... well, it's Martha, what do you expect?  I've found a number of possibilities and, quite frankly, am a little overwhelmed with all the things to do, but I managed to focus long enough to make these little goodies.  They seem like an appropriate activity for the new year so we'll have them at the store just as soon as I gather all the supplies.  Super simple to make, but how fun would it be to have a bowl of these as party favors?  Ta da!  Martha used felt but I like to create a double-sided effect using some of my many quilt scraps.  Now I just have to decide on some suitable fortunes to tuck inside.DSC09322  

And finally, I wanted to share an excerpt from my holiday letter here because it seems fitting:

Leaning out as far as she can, hoping she'll fall soon,
so she can stop worrying about whether it will happen or not. - Brian Andreas

There is something tremendously rewarding about taking a big risk such as starting a business.  Besides the financial risk, there is a great degree of vulnerability that many people are not sensitive to.  Yes, it can be painful, to open oneself up so publicly, to risk the criticism, the lack of understanding, the disinterest.   It is especially tempting, as an artist and an introvert, to just stay holed up in my studio.  But in pushing myself to lean, to reach, to connect, I have been met with such enthusiasm that the fall has a soft landing.  Daily I have people tell me how much they love the store and how much they’ve been inspired and I feel truly fortunate to be able to play such a role in so many people’s lives.

Don’t you hear it? she asked & I shook my head no & then she started to dance
& suddenly there was music everywhere & it went on for a very long time
& when I finally found words all I could say was thank you. - Brian Andreas

I am grateful to all the people in my lives who share their music, their passion, their art, and inspire me to share my own.

The world is filled with amazing inspirations, opportunities and fortunes; I hope you find the best of them in the New Year!


getting ready

ohmygoodness..... it's almost here!  I do love Christmas so much!  I woke up at 4 am this morning, but thankfully I was able to fall back asleep.  Since Sachi is heading up to the in-laws tomorrow, today is our day for the celebrations.  Most of the presents are under the tree already, though I had a last-minute trip to Trader Joe's - ostensibly to get groceries but then I got sucked into getting some treats for the stockings.  I can't tell you here, but I think I got my brother-in-law a GREAT stocking present from Trader Joe's. 

Ceve 002I think for me, the biggest anticipation of Christmas has for a long time been about the presents that I give to people, more than the presents that I am receiving from people.  I'm excited for Sachi to open her present and I promise I'll show you pictures.  I'll trust my brother-in-law not to share this post with the adorable girl.... Ta DA!!! Here is her present.  It's a "mimi" doll - that's what she calls our mom.  I used a picture of Mom transferred onto fabric and sewed it into a doll.  I didn't use a pattern and this is the very first doll that I've ever made so it has some room for improvement.  Since Lily has a blueberry dress and since my mom grew up on a blueberry farm, I gave her a blueberry apron, with vintage hankie and doily overlays.  I think the proportions are a little wonky and the neck and arms were kind of hard....  probably should have used a pattern but that's just not my thing.  

We have had such an amazing few weeks here at the store!  I feel really grateful, and also really exhausted!  It will be nice to have a day off tomorrow.  Today we have a group coming in to make cards but the weather doesn't look so great so it could be a quiet day, which is fine since there are always plenty of projects to work on.  I totally ran out of the fun and games paper packs, which have bingo cards and other vintage game ephemera, and I'd like to make more of those.  Making paper packs is one of many fun projects here at the store.  Oh, and there's a little restocking to do - if it won't drive my sister too crazy, I'll dump out the sparkling watercolors and restock those.  I love sifting through colors.

I hope everyone is enjoying happy preparations for the holidays and is finding time to enjoy friends and family and the gift of giving.


just two days left

Eek!... I can hardly believe it.  We have had quite an amazing holiday season - SUPER busy, with a few lessons on scheduling thrown in.  Sachi came in on Sunday to work which means she hasn't had a day off yet, though she has gotten to go home early a couple nights.  I barely make it to 10 pm before I go to sleep.  There is the threat of a big storm coming but even the snow yesterday didn't deter people.  Retail is such a strange beast.  There are moments when there are few people in the store, a little lull before the proverbial storm; and then there are moments when we are swamped.  One imagines that if everyone was evenly distributed, no one would have to stand in line.  But perhaps that would be boring.

We (well, maybe just "I") felt strongly that we should continue with craft parties right up to the last minute, seeing as that is a part of who Anthology is.  And for the most part, I stand by the decision, even though it has created a few hectic moments. Still, it has been really satisfying (as it always is), to have a craft table full of people working on their holiday gifts.  On Monday there were photo snippets and decoupage mirrors, on Tuesday stamped charms.  Today is some cardmaking, as is tomorrow - yes, on Christmas eve.  But the out-of-town visitors were quite anxious to come in and work on a craft project and I feel honored that they would choose to use one of their precious 6 days in town to come out to Anthology and work on a craft project.  After explaining custom buttons for what seems like a million times, our efforts have paid off. Several people have come into the store with properly sized images on proper paper, to make button picture frames and bracelets.  I'm excited to think about those presents being opened in a few days!  Well, I'm excited to think about all the people who will be opening Anthology presents this year. 

This is only our second Christmas so we're still learning.  The growth of our second year has continued into this holiday season.  It has been very rewarding to find that we are a little more established on people's present-shopping routes.  The store is pretty well stocked still but there is starting to be a little more room in the office and the drawers.  It was pretty crowded in November!  I ran out of gift tags (well, you still get one, you just have to go with the pink or orange or blue color palatte instead of the red/green one).  And we're getting down to the wire on certain other supplies.

And don't tell the grads, but we kind of forgot about winter graduation.  Might seem trivial, but there's been an extra run on the terrace chair button frames.  A few weeks ago, Sachi and I figured that we were pretty much done with making things.  The store was well stocked and even if one thing sold out, there were plenty of other options to take its place.  And yet I found myself gluing 8 more picture frames and 12 more bracelets yesterday and had to make an emergency run to Target last night.  The company we order the frames from is in Ohio and usually takes a little while to ship - but the frames are made in the US which is really rare for picture frames so we are committed to using them for the bulk of our frames.  Still, it means that we're a little behind.  It's not a bad feeling to have.  

In all of this, I managed to find time to finish my Christmas form letter and to make a photo collage through Walgreens.  That was super fun.  You just upload the pictures and they shuffle them around.  Now, being a control freak, I might like to place the photos where I want them but being a person who is short on time, it was nice just to let it be whatever it would be (that said, I did hit the shuffle button several times before I realized I had more pressing things to do with my day).  My own shopping is mostly done so that is good.  I'm really not in the mood to talk to many people after talking to people all day long so I probably wouldn't be a good customer.  I did stop at Frugal Muse last night while I was out at Target.  They were closing in 20 minutes so I didn't get to browse nearly as much as I'd like, but I still managed to find some children's books. for myself.  I couldn't resist.

We set a new all-time high sales record on Saturday and just exceeded last December's sales.  I commented to my dad that I was a little tired and stressed out from working as hard as we are; he was unsympathetic, as perhaps everyone should be, and said that it's better than being tired and stressed out from not having enough customers.  Too true.  We are VERY thankful!


twelve days, part six: book love

Storefri 021Well, WE think book lovers would love these..... Of course, if someone is a purist, they might have issues but we just love Naomi's storybook picture frames.  She uses books and frames from thrift stores so it's really just good recycling....  These are popular presents for new babies and kids' rooms, but also for those nostalgic big kids.

And then there are coasters made from storybooks, and books (journals) made from books. 

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There are plenty of notebooks and journals for jotting notes and sketching ideas.  Besides the recycled book journals, a local artist is recycling album covers to make sketchbooks and notebooks.  And then there are journals with the great artwork of Anahata Katkin and Sabrina Ward Harrison on the cover.  And, last but not least, BOOKS.  We've got books about fiber and paper arts, creative inspiration, children's books, and my own personal favorite - a book about COLOR!


 

twelve days, part five: souvenirs

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Here at Anthology we've tried to build up our collection of local Madison and Wisconsin imagery.  These make great gifts for longtime residents, departing visitors and others.  They are especially popular as graduation gifts.  Laura and Sachi both have photo snippet collages made from an assortment of photos around Madison.  Other options include Sachi's little drawings, and cards & prints from several different artists.

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We also have necklaces incorporating Laura's photographs of Madison, and baby onesies featuring Sachi's embroidery.  'Lil' cheese curd' has been particularly popular.  Squeak!

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These ceramic tabs are made in Chicago but feature Sachi's original drawing, and our button picture frames are another popular item.

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twelve days, part four: for the creative type

Storefri 001It's tradition in our family to give a jigsaw puzzle for a present, so that Mom and I have a project for our Christmas day.  But a crafty present certainly wouldn't go amiss either.

One of our best-sellers are the square photo punches.  We use these for our photo snippet collages.  It's a nice way to use leftover photos, or those pictures that really aren't so great but which have some part that commemorates a trip or event or person.

Storefri 007Other crafty options include collage papers, stickers, ephemera packs, Martha Stewart glitter (so fine and sparkly!), fun rubber stamps including a fabulous Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland which is seriously tempting to put on all of my correspondence from now on.  And don't forget the sparkling watercolors!Storefri 003

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Storefri 004There are also plenty of crafty books to choose from.  My personal favorite is Claudine Hellmuth's Collage Discovery Workshop.  I took a class from Claudine several years ago at Valley Ridge Art Studio and learned so much from her - most of which can be found in this very comprehensive book.  We've got books for bookmaking, collage, art/creative inspiration, sewing, fiber arts, and much more.  Caffeine for the Creative Mind is another popular title.

And finally, we have artist and knitter's pockets made by yours truly.  An assortment of fabrics sewn into several narrow pockets to hold pencils, brushes, knitting needles and other narrow things, which can all be rolled up for the artist on the go.

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twelve days, part three: photo snippets!

Snippet 002Photo snippets are another option for your holiday gift-giving.  The square punches have been very popular this year; people are buying them so they can make their own snippets at home, or to give to crafty friends.  I personally love the photo snippet approach because it has really freed me up from the idea of the perfect picture.  Even if you take a picture that doesn't really turn out, there's usually a one-inch square that captures an element of the moment.  Besides the punches that we have for sale in three different sizes, you can come into the store with your photos and make your own snippets.  We provide the punch or paper cutter for you to use, as well as the background paper and adhesive.  Prices start at $10, more if you'd like to purchase a frame (but you are welcome to bring in your own frame).  Stop in December 18-24 when photo snippets are one of the drop-in craftivities.  It's always good to call ahead of time and check; we've had some birthday and other craft parties on the schedule this month and we want to make sure that everyone has enough space to work on their projects.


twelve days, part two: custom options

There are a number of custom options for your holiday giving purposes (which I think is always a nice way to win the 'best present' award - especially for grandparents or, just saying, aunts....) but they do take a little time so it is definitely not too early to start working on these.

Photo charm
1. Custom photo charms are always popular but you'd better act fast if you want it in time for December 25th.  It usually takes two weeks to complete a necklace.  I'll be doing one more batch on December 18th; after that your pendant will have to be a belated present.  All I need is for you to email the photograph to me.  I have software that shrinks it down to size but do not have the ability to change colors/brightness/tone so please send it just as you want it.  Keep in mind that photos will be cropped to a circle or square so it works best if everyone's faces are close together.  Prices range from $28 - $40.

Noell

2. And then there's always the button machine.  The finished size of the button is one inch so your image usually has to be reduced.  We have a tool that cuts the circle(1.313") and then the button machine to make the buttons.

Photo paper is too thick so you'll have to print it out from your computer onto regular paper or take photos to the copy shop and copy them (and probably reduce them while you are at it).  Options range from buttons (aka badges, for you Brits), magnets and key rings ($1 - $2).  Or we can make the button with a flat back which can then be glued onto a ring ($6) or bracelet ($14) or a picture frame ($1 per button plus the cost of the frame, or bring in your own frame and just pay for the buttons).  The glue needs to set overnight for the bracelets, rings and picture frames so they need to be left at the store overnight.  We've had people stop in an make them for birthdays and anniversaries, and they are especially popular for grandma gifts.


twelve days, part one: jewelry

All right, all right, I'm running a little behind.  I'm borrowing this idea from Michelle at Dainty Daisies, an adorable store in Oshkosh.  She's featuring some of her top picks for holiday gift-giving, one a day for the 12 days of Christmas.  BezelMeanwhile I think I'm going to give you just a couple of installments.  Despite the snow day, we are having a great holiday season and we really appreciate everyone who is making the trip to downtown Madison.  Lots of people are still browsing, I can tell, so perhaps this will be helpful.  I'm starting out with jewelry but will soon follow with accessories and other goodies.

In no particular order, though of course I had to brag about my sister first, here are a few of our favorite things.

1. Sachi's little drawings in necklaces.  Sweet prints of eggs in nests and tea pots.  Available either on ball chain or on the lovely hand-dyed ribbon.  Made in Madison.

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2. Mindy's stamped bracelets with inspiring messages including sweetpea, friends, amore, bloom, hope, hero.  Made in  Oshkosh.

3. Cloth button bracelets made with scraps of fabric from Laura's quilt and headband scraps.  Many different colors including the newest made with batiks.  Made in Madison. 

4. Sweet ceramic earrings.  Made in Madison.  And yes, we have lots more earrings besides.  Some ceramic, some crochet (do they have tiny fingers to crochet such a small design, or what exactly?), some vintage buttons, some felted wool ballies...  And p.s. most of the earrings are under $29, a bargain for some real handmade goodness.

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5. Oh yes, can't forget the button bracelets.  There are storybook images from Naomi, Sachi's color themes (red is always a favorite) and Laura's terrace chair bracelets that make a nice memento of summertime in Madison.  Made in Madison.

6. Scrabble tile necklaces.  Perhaps you will find your favorite initial, though I'll warn you now that J is very hard to come by.  Made in Madison.

7. Vintage button pins and rings.  A great way to adorn your favorite jacket.  Made in Madison.

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8. Laura's photo pendants.  Featuring black and white photos of France taken on a trip with my Dad a few years ago.  Also available: state Capitol, as well as flowery pretties.  Made in Madison.

9. Charming ribbon necklaces.  Hand dyed silk ribbons come from California but we couldn't resist them.  Choose from our selection of charms and pendants, or take them home and make your own.  I used some old earrings that I'd lost the mate to as well as some charms I was meaning to make into bracelets.  The ribbons can be used as necklaces or bracelets or hair ties

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10. And any post about jewelry would not be complete unless I mentioned Vintaj brass.  It comes to us from just across the border in Galena, Illinois but we've had lots of fun making up charming bracelets and kits.  Stop in and stamp your own charm with a personalized message - we've got the hammer and the alphabet set here for your use at no additional charge. 




walking in a winter wonderland

Snowday 003Yes, that's right, just in case you haven't heard or aren't living it yourself, there's a little snow here in Wisconsin.  I love snow.... well, at the moment anyway.  I really think winter should be cold and snowy, but I know I will feel otherwise in February, and March.  On Wednesday there was so much snow that pretty much everything shut down, including the buses that I usually take to get to work.  I walked to the bus stop and took lots of pictures on the way.  I only waited 10 minutes before it occurred to me that when they said "delayed," they really meant that the buses weren't running at all, not just that they were running late.  They should have used another word in my opinion.  So, sorry if you stopped by the store on Wednesday.  I returned home and stayed indoors for the rest of the day.  I should have stocked up on some more groceries but I raided the freezer.  And I got so much sewing done!  It's amazing how much can get done when there are the distractions of a computer.  Thank goodness there was electricity so I could still sew and iron.  I finished up three more cupcake aprons, got further along on about 12 knitter's pockets and 20 headbands.  Then I took a nap, and then I worked on an art project from my Valley Ridge workshop this summer -- totally NOT what I need to do for restocking the store but it was a nice treat to work on a real art project and not just make buttons.  And I finished my sister's Christmas present which I am really dying to show you but I know it will have to wait until after she opens it.  I'd better just wrap it right now so I resist the temptation to snap a picture and post it somewhere.  It's quite lovely though, if I do say so myself.  Thank you etsy supplies and Vintaj brass.

And now it is Friday already.  Madison is still digging out from the blizzard.  I have had some long cold waits for the bus the last two mornings but it is supposed to get a little warmer for the weekend so that is good.  People are definitely getting ready for the holidays.  We have an assortment of groups coming in to work on craft projects (paper stars, button bracelets, stamped charms), including a birthday party this weekend (decoupage mirror frame and cloth button bracelets).  Here's the sweet little stamped charm that you can come in and make.

Jane will be here making paper stars on Saturday from 11 to 1.  We've got some paper cut so people can make their own, or they can buy some of hers.... and I'm pretty sure she was going to make up kits so you can take the pieces home and make more.  Some of our paper pads would also make nice paper stars as well.  Many people are still in the browsing phase which always entertained me at my former job.  It will be Christmas Eve and they'll come out shopping but when asked if help is needed, "oh no, just browsing..." as if there is all the time in the world.  It's a bit of a mystery to me because I am the type to shop all year long so there isn't too much left to do at this point.  Other than write my Christmas letter, which I can tell is going to be late again this year.  Maybe I should take a page from Julia Child and make it a Valentine's letter.