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for those who travel and those who stay home

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(one of our story pictures - the text says, "when days start wearing the same face, a road trip is in order.")

Seems like summer is always a busy time of journeying.  Sachi has filled the window with items to take on your trips (journals, passport covers), items to commemorate your trips (posters, books) and items to send back to those who didn't come along with you (postcards, stationery).

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We have souvenirs for those who have traveled from afar, including some great postcards and magnets based on vintage images.  And mementos , and art supplies for your travel journals too.  Or, why not consider booking an altered address book appointment and bring in your travel ephemera to make into a travel journal?Travel 009

We just received some fabulous map wrapping papers based on vintage maps.  They come from Minnesota, even though their focus is decidedly not Midwestern. I'm a map person for sure - they conjure up memories of looking at maps with Mom - tracing our fingers over the possible routes.

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In addition to maps of Chicago, San Francisco, Manhattan and US roadways, there are constellations and great retro images of Paris street scenes and a Paris department store.

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The "New Yorker's view of the world" is quite entertaining.  I've put in a request for Great Lakes/Midwest so hopefully he will keep his eye out for something along those lines.

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And for some reason, this end of July seems keenly like a time of transitions and endings (and beginnings too, of course).  We especially want to say fare well to our mailman who is retiring and to our upstairs neighbors Tyler and Nancy, who've been neighbors to Anthology from the beginning.  They've seen 2+ years of our growing and changing (as well as that of Lily).  When I mentioned to Lily that they had known her since she was a little baby, she said to me, "Everyone knows I was a baby."


a fabulous farewell present

Snippets

If I do say so myself. And I didn't mean to make her cry... 

Finally!  I can show you what I've been working on!  I wanted to keep it a surprise, which is really hard for me to do.  Since our upstairs neighbors are moving away, we wanted to give them a little present for their new house.  I know they had their eye our posters and was going to give them the State Street poster.  But then it occurred to me that I could make a snippet collage.  That was a few fun afternoons, taking pictures of details on the 200 block of State Street.  As is almost always the case, I had more details than I had space for so the next step was editing.  I arranged all the options and then had to give serious thought to what was most significant, or most emblematic.  I entertained myself for a while with the thought of an entire row of street musicians - the piccolo, the harmonica, the ukelele - but in the end, the sax player said everything that I needed to say (poor Nancy - she had to call the cops because of "playing" at 3 in the morning!).

I briefly thought of making some sort of message in the fragments of signs... but then kind of petered out at "Good" "& Co."  Still, I like those pieces in there - and I managed to get their window and buzzer.

I really need to spend more time making snippets.  It's such a fun project.  Sachi and I still toss around the idea of a seasonal or color-themed snippet of Madison - imagine a set of 8 frames, each one with a different color palette, or a set of 4 frames, one for each season.  It's interesting to just walk around a place and think about what pieces would be necessary for a complete snippet picture.


seriously, have you tried Etsy treasuries?

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I know, I know, I'm addicted.  I am reminded of the days of making mix tapes and happy books - there's something about picking a theme and gathering an assortment that I love so much.  I need to come up with a system though - maybe for every 5 items I list in our Etsy shop, I get to make one treasury?  Perhaps that would get me motivated.  Because I think I have more treasuries than items in the shop.  This Etsy business is challenging.... Well, this Etsy business on top of owning a brick & mortar store is challenging.

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Some of my ambivalence comes from the very reason that I opened a brick & mortar shop - I think everything is much better in person.  But I need to just get over that and acknowledge that some people don't have the time or opportunity to get to Anthology in person so I should give them something to look at online.  In the meantime, the assortment of treasuries is actually a good compliment to our Etsy shop.  Etsy only allows you to sell what you have made yourself (Sachi or me) or supplies, which means that many of the products in our store are not available online.  But I have supplemented with treasuries, which are a collection of things that I would have in the store if I could, all coordinated by color in a way that anyone who knows me will be unsurprised to see.  I think there is a definite trend to the treasuries that I have created; now I should work on diversifying the color a bit.  Well, they aren't ALL blue....Treasuries 004

Anyway, the main thing is that I'm totally carried away with treasuries. My remaining problem is how to share those with you. I really thought I'd seen some people's blogs that showed the screen shot of the treasury.  How do they do that?  I don't know.  SO I'm going to have to do this the old-fashioned way, if one can call taking a digital picture and uploading it to the computer old-fashioned in any way.

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Treasuries include: for Sachi on her birthdaythe collector IIthings I left behindpotluck o'clocka midnight fairy mix for Kathyfor the gnomiesmeet me at the park, Robot & Co. parade

And our Etsy shop was just featured in a treasury by EKRA, who is participating in this cool treasury challenge from Curation Nation which is super super tempting, except I know that my sister would be really annoyed if I spent any more time making treasuries....

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pot LUCK

Luck, indeed.  We just received another order that we placed at the Stationery Show.  I sure do love cards.  In addition to the artist that we'd ordered from before, this card company was working with some  new artists.  They produced these lovely assemblage cards...well, cards that are images of assemblage (the cards themselves are not 3-d). 

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And they also came out with these necklaces - more temptation than I could resist.  I love the bright colors and the vintage charm of the images.

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Now to find space for everything.


Monday arrivals

Phew... there is lots of catching up that needs to be done!  Several boxes arrived yesterday and we've had several consignee deliveries of late.  Also d I really need to do some cleaning and condensing in the office and all our backstock drawers.  There is space to spare, which is a good thing - it means we've been selling stuff.  We haven't had a chance to unpack them so this is a bit of a tease and for that I am sorry, but I couldn't wait to share the cuteness.

First of all, TIKI-themed SHRINK DINKS!  Who can resist?!

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More keys and other metal trinkets from Tim Holtz

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So much yo-yo cuteness from Deandra, including sweaters for little ones. Before she gets totally tired of making yo-yos, I think I need to find a top that she can embellish for me.  I love the mix of different kinds of fabrics, as well as the addition of leaves.


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More t-shirts from Portland, Oregon, and yes, more "This is how I roll" t-shirts are on their way soon.

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Lovely sweaters from Rebecca - she delivered four and two sold within 48 hours of delivery.  I am still enjoying this sweet ruffled blue sweater.

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And who knows what today will bring?  So I'd better get to work on my intended organizing and space-making.
 



a buy local day

With a heavy dose of roller-coaster riding thrown in.  I should start out now by saying that there was a happy ending to the day, because you will start to wonder midway through...

Disclaimer & Confession: Throughout my life, my mother has been a real stickler for buying local. She makes a great effort to eat only at locally owned restaurants and I have to sneak to Chili's.  So I feel as if the message is not particularly new, and sometimes (confession time) I feel as if the message is a little overzealous.  Buy local buy local buy local.  Yeah yeah yeah.  I heard you.  I KNOW that it means more money stays in our region, not just in terms of income, but also taxes, donations, etc.  Don't you ever just want to go shopping without thinking about it?  Additionally, I feel like the world that we live in today is so inescapably global and complex.  Sure, you can buy something from a local shop, but where did that item come from?  You can even buy something from me at Anthology - let's just say, for example, a headband.  I made it, most of your money goes to me personally as a commission check or to Anthology (and most of that money goes to rent - p.s. that's the Goodman Foundation, also local and full of good deeds).  I even used that money to buy fabric at a local fabric store, Stitcher's Crossing.  But where did that fabric come from?  Where was it made?  NOT in Madison, I can tell you that much.  So, I think that if you examine the chain long enough, quite often, it will lead you back to some distant location. 

So, there's my ambivalence, right at the start for you.  Now, onto my day yesterday.  I awoke early because my parents were out of town and Mom wanted me to get potatoes, tomatoes and green beans at the Westside Farmer's Market so that she could make salad nicoise.  While at the market, I saw the Metcalfe's Sentry deli guy with a WAGON, loading up on produce.  Now, I have to tell you, that is an excellent advertising campaign.  Right away it endeared Sentry to me.  I also do love to see restaurant chefs loading up at the Farmer's Market. 

After the market, I stopped at my parents' to drop off all the produce and eat my croissant, then on to pick up my sister and head in to work.  We had a busy morning to start, I was feeling good from all the projects I'd finished up the night before, with the added glow of chocolate croissant and seeing the Sentry deli guy.

Things quieted down a bit in the afternoon and I checked my email and made the mistake of following a link that appeared on the Yahoo front page. The headline was the U.S. middle class is being wiped out and here are the stats to prove it.  I feel like the girl in the horror movie whom the audience is shouting at: Don't go in there!!!! And now we go plunging down, down, down.  This is utterly disheartening and I'm afraid that it taps into some of my own experiences as a small business owner (which is the discouraging feeling that the System talks about how wonderful small businesses are but pretty much does nothing but throw up hurdles to make your job harder).  Combined with my feelings on the present political climate and the state of the economy, the depressing statistics of this article indicate that the rich - the lobbyists, corporate America, the politicians, are really just out to keep the riches for themselves.  I don't know what the Senators and the Representatives think they are doing but if I got paid that much to get so little accomplished in a day as they do, I would be feeling guilty and bad.  The free market is NOT going to make the world a better place.  It's had a chance and it is just making itself richer.  Oh, do I sound like a Socialist?!  Well, I won't make this post any longer but let's just say that I was feeling discouraged and disillusioned and if I hadn't had to put on a happy face for the customers, I would have been throwing myself across my bed in tears.

But there is the customer to think of, not to mention my sanity.  It was a little bit of a Gone with the Wind moment. After wallowing in feelings of, "What can one person do in the face of all this?" what to start with?  Well, for one thing, one person can spend as little money as possible in ways that benefit someone who is earning 300 to 500 times more money than their employees.  I don't care how many lives you hold in your hands, how many important decisions you make, even if you are working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, that means you are earning almost $2000 per hour.  That is NOT right.  All of a sudden the message that I was being given earlier (the pleasures of shopping at the Farmer's Market) come around to be something to consider for the rest of the day.  Like, how about spending money with people who either do the work themselves or who are much closer to the work not just supervising the supervisors who supervise the supervisors of the supervisors of the work?

And, wait a minute, what can one person do?  In addition to all that shopping?  Hey, about owning a business that spends its money on people who make the stuff that they sell, not supervise the supervisors of the supervisors.  Gosh, I love computers.  A few clicks of the mouse and I could call up our total sales history (anytime I need a pick-me-up, that's one of the first things that I do - phew! we've sold a lot!).  Now, no one is perfect and we do have things we love and had to have which do come from bigger companies; there are how-to books and art supplies that are manufactured overseas, but I am pleased to tell you that about 50% of our sales are of items made here in Wisconsin.  Another 25% of our sales are from individual artists or small presses or less-than-five-person operations within the U.S.  Most of the frames in our button picture frames are made in Cincinnati, Ohio, and let me tell you, it is really hard to find picture frames that are not made in China. 

That article is full of depressing statistics but it is also a bit of a call to arms (literally, since I had visions of storming the castle with a pitchfork).  I'm not sure that I have much hope for changes in the way that the wealthy of the world behave, but I think there are ways that I can live that satisfy my desire to share the wealth that I have and to live in a just manner (goodness but I have a long ways to go).  For the moment, it circles back around to the matter of buying locally, and making more of an effort to put my money where my mouth is. 

And you might think we are at the end of the day there, but I have the cherry on top.  I promised you a happy ending, didn't I?  I received a dinner invitation to L'Etoile - second night of their opening at their new location. Oh la la!  Super deluxe and quite a treat in so many ways.  Many of us traditionalists had reservations about the new space - more open and glassy and contemporary than the cozy charm of their old space.  But it gives them more room that they are clearly ready to grow into.  They made some major improvements to the energy efficiency of that old glass bank so they get points for that.  And a window seat is a pretty fine view.  We watched the sky change from day to night, pink tinged clouds reflected in the building and the night-lit Capitol appearing as a bright reflection.

The menu is a simple single page - one side has the tasty offerings in three courses, the other side is two columns of sources of their food, most of it local.  Talk about being rewarded for shopping locally!  Our table went with the taster's menu, or chef's menu.. I forgot what it was called... essentially a prix fixe.  Each person gets their choice of one item from the first course, mid course and third course, plus a choice of dessert.  The portions are slightly smaller this way (the server herself said it was so they didn't have to roll us out at the end of the meal).  Perfection.  Simply perfection.  At the end of the night, I left with the feeling that I had been utterly pampered and had dined well but wasn't full to the point of illness (and since when did we start equating that with satisfaction?).  I feel like inviting Jamie Oliver to go there so he knows there is some hope for the U.S. diet.

I didn't bring my camera and I'm sorry for that, but perhaps you'd feel I was just bragging.  The presentation of every single plate was absolutely exquisite.  I know, I'm raving, but I'm not exaggerating.  Here is their menu in full.  I had Frisée with house-made bacon lardons, raspberries, warmed Fantome Farm chèvre; Voss Organics heirloom tomatoes, warmed mozzarella, basil, squash blossom; Cornmeal-crusted wild Alaskan halibut, bacon-creamed uni corn, braised collard greens, mashed potatoes.  A delicious Bellini, plus sips of a tawny port and some other sweet dessertish wine.  For dessert, oh dear, they haven't updated their dessert menu online.  It was a lovely moist dark chocolate cake with something like a coffee/beer ice cream with sea salt caramel and dark chocolate sauce.  And there was an amuse bouche beforehand, and a little sweet something else afterwards.  One dining companion said that if she could have vegetables this way all the time, she would become a vegetarian; another dining companion said that beef like this (Fountain Prairie Farm dry-aged ribeye, haricots verts, mushrooms, mashed potatoes, confit onions, cabernet jus, bone marrow-blue cheese compound butter) was why he never could become a vegetarian and the third dining companion indicated that said beef was the most delicious he had ever had (he's not young and has probably eaten at sophisticated restaurants on almost every continent so that's saying something).

As I drove home, I was feeling kind of teary, but in a good way.  It had been an exhausting day but my really positive experiences were built around the community that is here in Madison and the satisfaction of farm-fresh tomatoes, good company, delicious food.  I even started picturing a world for myself where a visit to L'Etoile is a regular thing.  I'm not talking every month or anything, but saving up skipped corporate-profiting expenditures to earn the reward of a night at L'Etoile seems like a fine way to proceed.


gratitudes

Ugh.  It's hot and humid.  The two Komai sisters have been a little crabby with each other.  Today, two sisters came in and were utterly charmed that "you work with your Sissy!"  I had to fall back on the 'just smile and nod' reply.  Still, there are many ways that we complement each other well - two really important ones: 1. when one of us is stressed out about money, the other is not and can thus be reassuring to the former. 2. when one of us is feeling lazy and unproductive, the other is usually hard at work, which ends up spurring the former.

I think my biggest gratitude at the moment, besides working with my sister even when we are crabby, is that my mind is absolutely spinning with possible creative ideas.  Do you ever worry that when the thing you love becomes your career, you will stop loving it?  or it will stop loving you?  Of course, there is some element of time (specifically, lack of) which keeps me from working on as many art projects as I thought I'd be.  But I am happy to report that having to balance the checkbook in Quickbooks, meet with the insurance agent, and other mundane and inane aspects of small business ownership, has not changed the number of creative ideas that I have.  You'll have to ask Sachi if cleaning windows has had an effect, but I think her answer will be the same. 

I did naively think that when we opened this store, there would be moments when I could be working on art projects at the cash register.  That is true to some extent, but the projects that require some actual thinking and planning are really not suitable.  I end up making a lot of button bracelets in quiet moments, in case you hadn't noticed.  Sure I'd like to work on an art journal but I just can't concentrate the way I need to.  The good news is that even after a whole day of being at the shop, I do still have energy to work on projects at home.  The bigger problem is not the energy, but the time and the decision-making.  I have so many ideas going around in my head right now!  In fact, if anything, Anthology has made that worse, as I am exposed to more artful people and more crafty ideas.  I hardly know where to begin.

In my living room right now I have a personal journal of intentions that I am collaging, the art journal swaps, whatever I'll decide upon for our October exhibit (can't make up my mind), magnet picture frames, jewelry,  snippets....  At work I have resin flower bobbies, button bracelets and frames, terrace chair pony-os, paper packs....  Oh my goodness is there ever so much to do!


crazy for keys

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To be honest, I'm not entirely sure how it started.  My sister must have mentioned to her father-in-law that keys have been very popular as components in jewelry.  We have a great key charm from Vintaj brass.  Anyway, he stopped in the shop a few days ago with two awesome cases filled with keys that he's collected over the years.  I did not realize that he was such a collector -- we have lots to talk about (and if you know anyone who knows what to do with old padlocks, let me know, he has a bunch of those as well).  Apparently he has many collections - a man after my own heart for sure.  Anyway, he's sharing the keys with us!  Yippee!  I still don't quite know what we are going to do with all of them (actually, not ALL of them, we just get to pick some that we'd like).  Anyway, the photographs above are how they arrived to the store, and I have visions of arranging them in all different sorts of layouts (and have been spending lots of time on Etsy getting inspiration from other people's collection and key photographs... so much so that I had to create two Etsy treasuries: The Collector I and II)

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I could have spent the entire day taking photographs of the keys.  I'm taking a Valley Ridge workshop in a few weeks that involves cyanotype and photo transfer (just search cyanotype in Google Images and you'll see why I'm getting carried away).  We can set actual items down on paper so I think I will use actual keys for silhouettes.  I am also going to take some of my own photographs and copy them as high contrast black & white photocopies onto transparency sheets to make overlays.  I'm getting totally carried away and will have more transparencies than I can possibly use in two days, but I wouldn't have it any other way.  

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I think these are going to make some interesting transparencies... and then there's the whole matter of manipulating images in Photoshop which I have no idea how to do.  I saw some evocative images at the Art Fair Off the Square which now, it turns out, Marilyn informs me were probably achieved through Photoshop.  Gotta add that to the list!Keys 013

Anyway, for now I am content with tying our lovely hand-dyed ribbons onto the keys and taking their picture. So fun!.. oh, and pairing them with text from Brian Andreas

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"If there is any secret to this life I live, this is it: the sound of what cannot be seen sings within everything that can. & there is nothing more to it than that." Keys 014


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"It's hardest to love the ordinary things, she said, but you get lots of opportunities to practice."

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arrivals Tuesday

Tuesday 005oooohhhh....  So happy!  We finally got this order from the Stationery Show.  This was one of the very first booths that we saw when we went to NY in May, and we were totally charmed by the assortment of storybook and travel illustrations.  It reminded us a lot of being in the stationery section of a Japanese department store.  I know several people who will be excited about the various Alice in Wonderland images...

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And there are also some sweet travel illustrations, great mini postcards, journals, etc.  I can see that Sachi is already scribbling notes for the next window with a travel theme to highlight some of these goodies.

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more enamel fun

Max 002Well, I was having fun anyway.  I'm not sure what gave me the energy after two full days of Maxwell Street, but on Saturday night, after dinner and a dip in the pool, I sat up and watched The Fall and made enamel necklaces.  It kind of sneaks up on you here at the shop - even though I can check the sales history at any time, it seems like you check one time and everything seems well stocked and before you know it, you are helping a customer and wondering where all the other enamel necklaces have gotten to. 

I sure do love all these enamel pieces!  It is so fun to play around with color combinations and create a little cluster of three different pieces.  They look much better in person - I'm wondering if I had the camera setting on something wonky because the color isn't really coming through that well at all.  But it gives you a little idea.  We got our reorder of Vintaj chain so there were plenty of supplies to make an assortment of necklaces.  I'm still waiting for the big brass bird to come in so that particular necklace project is on hold, but at least I made some restocking progress.


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