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September 2010

aww..... thanks!

Isthmus 001On Friday night, Isthmus had its annual block party, moved on account of rain, at the Orpheum next door.  This is the party where they unveil the winners of the Madison Favorites voting, results of which are also published in the Annual Manual (coming out on the 26th).  And we cross our fingers (and beg for votes), hoping that we will be ranked among your favorites. 

A few weeks ago, a guy rushed in a few minutes before closing and snapped an assortment of pictures.  Truthfully, it happens a lot - and not because the press is beating down our door, but mostly because customers/bloggers/tourists like what they see and want to take a memento home with them.  Still, there was some element of professionalism about the whirlwind approach which prompted me to ask the occasion for the photographs.  He said, "It's for the Annual Manual. That's all I know."  Well, I'm not the type to press for details so I left it at that and then we started speculating and hoping, but in a subtle and quiet way so as not to jinx things.  (I'll borrow a line from Jamie Heiden who writes, "I'm not superstitious, just a little stitious.").Isthmus 002

And.... Yay!  We made it!  For some unknown reason, this year, the categories have been rearranged a bit.  There is a substantial expansion of the restaurant/food categories, and seems like a reduction in the choices for the retail world.  There used to be "Gift Shop" as a category, though I don't know if "crafts/supplies/cards shop" was ever an option.  Personally, I think they could use a little revamping of their categories to make it somehow more entertaining.  Don't ask me now.  When I used to work at Little Luxuries, they won one year in the category of "place to buy things that everyone wants but nobody needs."  Now that's a category I'd enjoy reading about.  I know, maybe Anthology is a little hard to peg anyway, but we won for Under-The-Radar shop, which seems like a slightly odd category.  On the one hand, I feel like you are standing in a corner, shouting and waving your hands, look at me! look at me!  And, of course, we know we are not under-the-radar for SOME people.  And can you be under-the-radar if you've been mentioned in the New York Times (sorry, I can't help it, but you'd brag too).  And it kind of leaves me wondering about next year -- doesn't seem like you can win that category more than once.  Still, just as I was second-guessing myself for voting in that category, I had two people in a row come up to me and ask me how long we've been here (a question usually followed by, "huh, I guess I missed you before.")  And then there's the "I walk by here all the time but I've never been in."  So, Under-the-Radar isn't wholly inaccurate.  Hopefully this award will help.  We are also happy to see that The Century House won for Home Decor.

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You can check out the entire Annual Manual in this week's Isthmus, which will be out on Friday.  Also, note the picture of Naomi's bracelets on the front cover.

Thanks to everyone who voted for us!  And thanks to everyone who has us on their radar already!

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Wisconsin Book Festival, making progress

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In typical Laura fashion, my initial plan for my Wisconsin Book Festival submission has completely been left by the wayside.  Perhaps you remember that altered book with the hand prints that was going to explore palmistry?  It's ok if you don't.  I made some hand prints but got rather stuck after that.  I had some notion that perhaps the two days at Valley Ridge would get the ball rolling again, and even brought transparencies of palm readings.

But now I'm totally diverted down this path of printing cyanotypes on fabric.  I did print a bunch of pages with palm prints and other line-related images (the title of our exhibit is Unspoken Beliefs: Between the Lines, or something like that).  So I reluctantly hauled out my few books about making books, all the while grumbling to myself that I really don't like sewing books or other book structures, so how was I going to assemble all these prints into some form of book, grumble grumble grumble.  In the midst of all of that, it suddenly occurred to me that I could continue to play with the fairytale theme that I started in class... and then, voila! the lightbulb goes on!  I do love it when that happens.  When you are working and working, and struggling a bit (there has to be some struggle, I think), and then you let go and stop struggling and the idea just comes to you.

So there I was, Monday morning, just about to sit down and plunge into those books about book structure, which only cause me irritation, when the plan became obvious.

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And by Monday evening, definite progress is being made.  The basic idea is to have a bed, which several layers (pages) of hankies with the princess and pea story printed on them.  I managed to get three hankies printed yesterday while the sun was still relatively bright, only about 5 more pages to go.  After it was dark, I returned home, found a spool of wire, and twisted this bed frame, which a canvas will rest upon (on which the hankies will rest).  Frankly, I am not one for making my bed, so this is a perfectly rumpled representation.  The unspoken beliefs and what you read between the lines are both my interpretation of how the princess and the pea would actually read, as well as my beliefs about the futility of making one's bed.

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no end to the enamel goodness

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Yes, I'm a little carried away, but who wouldn't be?  We just got a new shipment of enamels from Duluth.  Gorgeous big round circles for pendants, but also lots of little rounds and rectangles for earrings.  I spent one whole night in front of the TV making earrings...

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And the next couple nights making necklaces using the yummy combination of Vintaj brass and enamel and glass beads.

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got the blues, and that ain't bad

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My head hurts.  There are so many ideas swirling around in there.  It doesn't help that as I was taking things out of the trunk, the lid of the trunk fell back on top of my head.   But mostly I am totally preoccupied with plans for photographs and prints.  It was very hard to get up and go to work this morning - I opened my eyes to bright sun and my first thought was all the cyanotypes I could make.

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Oh what fun it is to have just returned from two lovely days at Valley Ridge Art Studio, my annual pilgrimage, art/spa retreat to hilly country.  As always, Kathy is a wonderful host, inviting you to share in the wonderful surroundings and pampering you with yummy lunches.

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Our instructor for the two days was Dean Ebben, an artist from New York City, who shared his alternative photo techniques.  We lucked out on Thursday because it was a hot and sunny day and our work with cyanotype went smoothly.  Friday was not so lucky since it was rainy for most of the day.  I didn't have much luck with the process on Friday, but there were other projects to work on.  I think I would have been totally wiped out if I had printed at the same pace two days in a row so it's really just fine that there was rain on the second day.Blues 010

I was pleased to be able to use a photograph that I took in France, people who had walked out when the tide was low for clamming.  Though it was kind of a mundane moment, in black and white, the image looked very mysterious.  I had a feeling it would be interesting to work with as a component in an art project but I wasn't sure exactly how.  I really like the way it looks with the dome of the constellations above it.  I didn't use nearly all the photographs that I had prepared, and I can already think of several more to pilfer from my albums.

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Besides using 3D objects set on top of the coated paper, I had brought along several of my own photographs - well, high-contrast, black & white transparencies of my photographs.  I copied some as positive images and some as negative images since I wasn't necessarily wedded to the idea of a positive final image (since the image gets reversed in printing you have to start out with negatives if you want a final positive image).  Turns out that I generally prefer a positive final image, and there are definitely some images that are much more successful one way than another.  I can tell I will need some practice figuring that all out.  Still, on a sunny day, it is a pretty easy and fast and inexpensive process, so I will have lots of opportunities to practice.

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Oh, and I also got to use the great transparencies that we have at the shop.  This one didn't rinse out so well, but this was made using the black lace transparency.  And I experimented with printing on book pages - still have to work on that a bit, but managed to get an impression of the adorable girl walking down the sidewalk with a branch in her hand.

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Dean had a great project for us - he provided paper so that we could make 11 prints to trade with our classmates!  So fun.  That's something I'm clearly missing out on, not being in the printmaking world.  I spent most of the first day just printing various photographs and textures, trying to figure out the composition of my print to share, exploring positive and negative images, learning what works better and what doesn't.  This is a copy of my final print.  It's not the best because it was printed between rain storms on Friday, but you can get an idea of the layout.  I added my own text by writing with black sharpie on acetate (a thought that kept me awake late into Thursday night.  I should have just gotten up and wrote the words down on a piece of paper).  If I wanted dark words for the final, I would have had to write them and then photocopy them as a reverse image, or scratch them out on a piece of blackened acetate perhaps.Blues 009

 

And then there was the other excitement, which was that you can print on any number of surfaces.  I'm mostly thinking about these images for pages in books and for art prints, but it can also be printed on FABRIC!  Here are two prints that I made on vintage hankies but I'm also thinking about printing some scarves for the store, and a skirt for myself.

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And the grand finale, snippets of blue skies!  I love how this turned out and will definitely be making more of these.  I like that it is possible to take a photograph one step further to make it into a print, and I like that this goes from a color photograph, to a black and white transparency, and then back to the blues of skies.  I'm definitely going to have to find more sky photographs with clouds... and could just print cloud and sky pictures, if I could manage to focus for a little bit.  Or not.

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waiting Wednesday

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And, yes, given the heat and humidity of this week, a little part of me is waiting for autumn.  That said, I wasn't quite ready for this sight, which I happened across on a walk in Crestwood, my old childhood neighborhood.

But in truth, the days have been more like this:

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A combination of leisure and slow, heat-induced, movement, idling in the shade, feeling crabby because of overnight humidity (I sleep with my windows open and usually it cools down enough to make for comfortable summertime slumber though not the last couple days).  Summertime visitors, indulging in ice cream, spinning on the carousel, making my way through a pile of books (waiting just a bit to start The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest - I don't want it to end just yet).

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New arrivals to the store include postcards with vintage Madison images, new patterns of scrapbook paper packs, flower and bumblebee wrapping paper, the entertaining map wrapping paper with the New Yorker's view of the US, and more Vintaj brass (which prompted a new necklace project).

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There are several things ahead to look forward to, which I am not so patiently awaiting.  The Craftacular is on Sunday, and the Creative Connection Event is just around the corner after that.  At this precise moment, I am mostly waiting for tomorrow, when Mom and I head out to Valley Ridge for a workshop.  I'm feeling oddly prepared and yet not at all ready.  For some reason, it seems like this particular workshop is requiring fewer supplies.  My little box of transparencies and textures hardly seems like enough for two days!  And yet, somehow, the short supply list has left me scrambling.  Usually I have everything gathered well in advance and yet I am heading to the art store tonight to get some paper, and I sent Dad to the hardware store this afternoon to get some spring clamps.  It's that strange busyness that happens before you go away; soon there will be no choice but to just be in the moment, but in the meantime, my mind is feeling over-caffeinated and I haven't had a Coke since yesterday.

I'll be away from the computer for the next couple days, but then will be back to share the inspiration from Valley Ridge.


summer inspiration, daze and days

Where to begin? It's already the second week of August and the glads & apples are already at the Farmer's Market (rather on the early side, if you ask me).  There's nothing like children to remind you of how quickly time is going.. especially since they are usually flying around just as quickly as the time itself.  It has gotten much more difficult to get pictures of the adorable girl.  Thank goodness for the digital camera, which allows me to attempt as often as I can, at no cost of printing blurry images (unless I want them).  I've been sorting through photographs (not organizing them, unfortunately) and feeling nostalgic - already Lily has grown so much since those early days!

The month of August is my birth month, which rolls out in a series of lunches and dinners, visiting guests, artful inspiration and more.  In a few days, I will attend an Alternative Photo workshop at Valley Ridge Art Studio with Mom.  I am gathering supplies, making photocopies and transparencies... oh yes, I will share the results with you, don't worry.

Meanwhile, I've also been drooling over the work of Jamie Heiden, whose work I saw at the Art Fair Off the Square.  A friend informs me that is mostly the effect of Photoshop, which strengthens my intentions to learn more about that .. hopefully in the new year.  Apparently I'm in a photography mood.  Jamie Heiden has a Blurb book, which really makes me want to get back into that.  I have several artsy books that I am working on, and would like to make a few photo/story books.  Sigh.  Sometimes it seems like it would be nice to have a little more leisure time to work on such projects.  The series of key photographs that I took turned out nicely and I'd like to frame some of those for the shop.  Oh, and I get easily sucked into looking at photographs on Etsy and getting all sorts of ideas for photo shoots.

In other inspiration, the Craftacular is coming up in a week.  Anthology is a sponsor but does not have a table... all the better to shop!  Sachi and I are making plans for morning scouting and a noon lunch on the east side of town.  I haven't been able to attend for a little while (since I've been tending the shop during previous events) so I'm looking forward to seeing what crafty goodness everyone has gotten up to.  Then there's Renegade in September. 

Although September has been quiet the last couple years, we overcompensated this year.  A few days after Renegade, we are heading up to Minnesota for The Creative Connection Event.  This is our first time vending out of state, at a non-Craftacular event so it's a little nerve-wracking.  We're busy making things and planning what we will take from the store.  Unlike the Holiday Craftacular, when we could just walk a few blocks back to the shop to restock, we have to figure out what we're taking before we hit the road.  For the people who continue to comment that our store is too full and overwhelming, they might be happy to come and visit Sept 15th-18th, when part of the store will be away.  But don't worry, we aren't clearing out completely, and Pamela and Mom will be tending the store so we will be open (just on slightly reduced hours).  Of course, we are also looking forward to shopping other people's booths and seeing what else is going on in the crafty world, maybe even meeting Amy Butler!  I went to school in Minnesota and thus have several friends living in the Twin Cities so I am also looking forward to some dinners in good company, as well as shopping in the area.  So much to do!

Now that I am not in school and not around many people who are in school, summer doesn't have to end so abruptly at the end of August.  I'll grab a quick trip to the beach in August, but am also looking forward to yet another in September - going across Lake Michigan on the ferry to visit relatives, see the Chihuly exhibit, and walk along the beach on the other side - all the better to see the sunSET over the water.  I need to stockpile some books for reading on the beach though.  I'm looking forward to The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest, but am not sure that I want to read that, or any trashy vampire novels, while I am camping alone in August.

We hope you are enjoying your summer days!


still nesting

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That's right, there's just no end to it.  We were out of the big brass bird for a while so that particular style of necklace was dwindling.  But we just got another order of Vintaj brass so Sachi and I have been busy making an assortment of bird and nest necklaces.  I am still totally in love with the enamel pieces from Duluth and am having lots of fun putting together necklaces with enamel and brass assortments. 

Nesting 007We also got some new Vintaj charms so I have a few more charm necklaces in mind.  I bought a lovely one for Sachi as a gift and am having fun making similar necklaces - with an assortment of charms scattered along the length of the chain.  Meanwhile, Sachi has been making more necklaces with keys, and also with the great vintage glass flower beads. She has such patience to put those individual beads on head pins - I get bored of that task rather quickly.

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newsletter: late summer 2010

'Hope you're having a fun summer!

We’re enjoying a busy season at Anthology with lots of tourists and craft parties.

Thank you to Absolutely Art and everyone else who helped contribute to our Maxwell Street Days Studio Garage Sale in which customers could fill a bag of art and craft supplies for $5. Anthology & Absolutely Art donated over $400 to local children’s art programs such as the Art Cart, Shirts That Supply, and the Monroe Street Fine Arts Center. Schoolteachers and crafty kids were delighted by such a good deal: they stocked up on paper, paints, crayons, fabric, buttons, ceramic tiles and collage ephemera.

We welcome donations year-round if you’re ever trying to de-clutter your creative space.

Anthology continues to have a sale table inside the shop--take 25-50% off select Somerset Studio publications, Blue Q reusable bags, Luminarte paints and pigments as well as wallets and necklaces made of vintage neckties.

Our consignment artists have been busy creating--here are just a few recent deliveries:

Girls’ and women’s skirts made of adorable Amy Butler fabrics and vintage embroidered tea towels

Button jewelry (leather cuffs, bracelets, rings & brooches)

Octopus t-shirts

Girls’ and women’s tops adorned with fabric yo-yos and leaves

Madison photo greeting cards that show the city in miniature (it’s a camera trick)

Children’s aprons made of screen-printed and vintage fabrics

Madison cards that capture the Arboretum and Farmer’s Market through an iPhone camera

Felt bird credit card wallets

and from across the country:

“This is how I roll” t-shirts and aprons (there’s a rolling pin below the words--perfect for pie and pastry makers)

Reproductions of vintage travel and airline posters

Reproductions of vintage maps (Manhattan, Chicago, San Francisco, and--our favorite--a New Yorker’s view of the U.S.)

Shrinky Dinks!

Tim Holtz skeleton and typewriter keys

Stickers, puzzles and t-shirts from Moomah, our new favorite store in NY (a cafe and creative space for kids and families)

Letter sets, mini journals and mini postcard sets with London, Paris, Italy and Alice in Wonderland themes

Reproductions on vintage "Greetings from Madison" and "Greetings from Wisconsin" postcards--suitable for framing

We continue to receive shipments from our trip to New York...as well as compliments on our card collection! We’ve really tried to find lines that no one else in Madison carries. Our favorite Milwaukee cardmaker is back from maternity leave and launching a line of Madison designs so keep an eye out for their debut this month.

Upcoming Events:

Sunday, August 15th the Glitter Workshop is hosting the 6th Annual Summer Craftacular from 10AM to 5PM at the East Side Club (3735 Monona Drive). Over 80 artists and crafters will be selling their handmade goods in individual booths so you can shop their full array and meet these talented people in person.


In mid-September we will be taking our show on the road: Anthology will have a table at the Creative Connection, a gathering of creative women and women entrepreneurs, in Minneapolis, Minnesota September 16-18th. We are busy assembling paper and collage packs and making charm necklaces, many of which now include antique skeleton keys, thanks to Sachi’s father-in-law’s amazing collection.

Stop in and see what’s new! 

Laura and Sachi