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September 2012

falling behind, catching up?

Ok, seriously... WHERE did the time go? I look up and all of a sudden it is LABOR DAY WEEKEND?!  Ack. The girl had her last day at preschool and is moving on to 4K. It's the end of my birthmonth and time (past time, if I was honest with myself) to buckle down and focus on... yes, I said it, Christmas.

Ack.

I looked back at posts this summer... Honestly, I have NOT been on vacation that much. Truth to tell, we have had a pretty awesome summer as far as sales go, in ways that have left me scrambling to keep up with reorders and restocking. I know, not a bad problem to have. But I have definitely been neglectful over here on this blog. My apologies. Unfortunately we are starting to get to that time of year when I put things off until January, which actually ends up being February or March. But don't worry, there will be plenty of new things to tell you about and I won't forget about you.

(that said, if you are really impatient to hear about new things, our Facebook page might be the best bet. I tend to post pictures there as soon as things come in. You don't get as many of the chatty details, but sometimes that's fine.)

Anyway, here goes. I see from blog posts that I have LOT of catching up to do. I should mention first of all that we are open this holiday weekend. There's usually quite a lot going on downtown, and I'm looking forward to a little "studio" time on Sunday and Monday. We're open regular hours on Saturday (10 am to 7 pm) and Sunday (noon to 4) and reduced hours on Monday (noon to 4).

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Has it really been so long that I've written that I didn't say anything about CREATE in Chicago?! A week ago, Friday, we drove down to the outskirts of Chicago to the Wynham Hotel in Lisle. Sachi and I said the next day that we felt like we had packed three days into one. I packed the car the night before and we left Madison around 11, drove to Mitsuwa for Japanese lunch & groceries, to IKEA for a quick look-around, then to Lisle to set up. The Vendor Faire went from 6 to 9 pm, then we packed up, ate a late dinner in the hotel, and drove back home, unpacked the car, and went to bed around 1. We were very glad we went; we had great sales, introduced ourselves to some new customers, were tempted by many fellow vendor wares, and were flattered that some people remembered us. The next day, there was a workshop for drilling pebbles so we were a little sorry that we had to get back to the shop. There seemed to be many interesting workshops and artists and people to connect with.

As far as the shop is concerned, I'd like to blame our UPS driver for bringing so many boxes this last week, but I know it is only my fault for placing all those orders.

We went to Milwaukee recently and while, for the most part, I was not jealous of other shops' product lines, I WAS jealous of their space. and their card racks. It's feeling a little crowded at the moment, but who could resist these? A lot of people have been asking for cards made in Madison - I know, you'd think that I would have plenty of those, but we didn't really. Now to add to the Artsy Fartsy collage cards, we have my photo cards and Stefanie Lin's painted/collaged girls as well. And, though it seemed like I went to Atlanta only to buy things made elsewhere, I did pick up a new line of cards from an Atlanta couple.


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I especially love these postcards.

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The big story for the summer is t-shirts, which is yet another thing I have not been staying caught up on. My old boss would have had me order them in grosses, but I have no place to put so many shirts. Still, at least we've restocked some, including the very popular Midwest is Best (just arrived today).

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Other new arrivals include fun Black Apple buttons, the much-anticipated Nikki McClure calendar, prints with inspiring quotations, invitations,

 

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Sachi finally responded to my nagging and made Obama button bracelets, and restocked her panty bracelets. I know, I hate that word too, but someone I like using it in conjunction with the pins protesting the GOP.
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I had a momentary feeling of panic when I realized the calendar was turning to September and Christmas is that much closer. Luckily, many artists responded quickly and we now have a nice stock of earrings, from Kim in Manitowoc and Cynthia (formerly of Madison, now on the East Coast).

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Other new arrivals include cut-out leather cuff bracelets, new art boards,  more prints, sarcastic bird magnets, solar powered lanterns, more calendars, including my Blurb calender which is really more of a journal than a planner, but is filled with my photographs and my collaged calendar pages and will be a pleasure, at least for me, to use in 2013. I *think* we are close to the complete selection that we will have, in terms of calendars.

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We also received new neckties, including a fun gnome design, and scrapbook paper pads... What else?
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There are still three boxes that I haven't even dug into this week (keep calm prints, handcarved wooden stamps, guest books), and some recent shipment notification emails that indicate more items on their way. There's always some moment, right before the holidays, when it seems like the store is the absolute most stocked. I'm not quite there yet - there are some spaces in the drawers yet to fill.


book project, taking shape

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I know, I know, I'm way behind on keeping you up-to-date with goings-on at the shop. But first, I have a new project! Aren't they the most fun?!

Yesterday was my birthday and after some thought, I decided that the way I really wanted to spend my birthday was working on art projects. I've been mulling over my plans for my Wisconsin Book Festival book and wanting to really spend some more time with batik papers and maps. I ordered more map stationery, which arrived, conveniently, earlier in the week. While packaging most of it up in sets for customers, I pulled aside a few pages of each map for my own use.

So as you might imagine, I've been a little impatient to get to work. Batik paper, unfortunately, does require a bit of a time and space commitment but it seemed like yesterday was the right time.

I swapped with Sachi so, yes, I did work late on my birthday, but the last two hours were slow enough that I could start the melting of the wax and set up... as well as a little painting.

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I had been thinking about a piano hinge book with these batiked map pages but suddenly on Tuesday one of my favorite pieces of text from Norman Maclean's A River Runs Through It popped into my head:

“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs."

Perhaps it is the geologist in me, the idea of the history that rocks contain, the raindrops on the rocks... I love that text.

SO, the plan is to write the text on the pages. It won't be totally readable but I hope the gist comes across. And then, it occurred to me last night while I was setting out pages that instead of creating individual pieces based on the underlying map of each page, it would be a really cool book if a RIVER RAN THROUGH IT!  Ah, don't you love it when things come together like that?!

Of course, with text and a river, this means I have to be much more careful about the arrangement of pages. So far I'm mostly happy with the way things are turning out. I'm still learning when it comes to painting and feel like that part could be better, as well as the way the colors will work together once the pages are put together. But I think it will work.

 

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Last night after I locked the doors, I was here until about 10 pm. I managed to apply the wax and paint to about 12 pages. I think there are 36 all together. I realized that with these being pages in a book, the back sides will be visible so I had to paint the backside as well, which is adding to the drying time. But I have about 5 that are totally dry so I think I can iron those today and see if this plan will really work. The wax is melting right now. I painted a few more pages but will have to put some of this away so we can have the table available for the weekend. We don't have any craft parties planned (so, yay!, I will get to do more batiking on Sunday), but the space is useful for rolling up sheets of wrapping paper, which we've been doing a lot of now that the students are back.

Anyway, that's the project that's been consuming my attention. You will certainly be hearing more about it - I can't wait to see the pages once the wax is ironed off; there's always some element of surprise.


Wisconsin Book Festival, sneak peek

Don't worry, it isn't that late in the year. Yet.

We have started making preparations for the Wisconsin Book Festival, November 7 - 11, however, so here's the sneak peek.

Laura is a member of the Bone Folders' Guild here in Madison, and the group will have their book arts on exhibit in the store window

Title:  Finding the Not-So-Lost Art of Bookmaking.

 

Wednesday, November 7 through Sunday November 11

Exhibit of BFG new and/old Book Art in the Window of Anthology

Many members are already pondering things lost and found, but we'll also have some past works.  My current plan (which is always subject to change) is to make a piano-hinge bound book using map pages that I've batiked. I've been wanting to spend more time on the batik process and really like the way the dyes and wax interact with the existing map lines. It harkens back to my old geology/geography map days so already that is something that was lost and found, not to mention the way maps conjure up losing and finding in my mind. Valleyr 022
 

Thursday, November 8, 2012. 4:00 – 6:30 p.m.

Slinky Bookmaking Demonstration with Nan

The slinky book is a very cool structure! If I remember correctly, in involves four needles so it is a complicated structure, which is coolest the more pages you have.

 

Friday, November 9, 2012. 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Artist Reception at Anthology

Many of the members of the Bone Folders' Guild will be at the shop, and will be available for questions and comments. We'll probably have some examples of books for you to take a closer look at on the back table.

 

Saturday, November 10, 2012. 11:00am – 1:00pm

File Folder Folio Bookmaking with Sachi. $7

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A simple book structure made using a file folder and a simple pamphlet stitch.



Sunday, November 11, 2012. 1:00 – 3:00

Altered “Golden Book” Bookmaking Activity with Laura. $8

As you might know by now, this is one of my favorite book projects of the moment. We've had several groups come in and work on altered books and I always love to see how different books emerge from the same materials. These make great little books to commemorate an event (a trip or a birthday) or just to house some fun childhood-inspired collages.


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Sunday, November 11, 2012. 3:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Make & Take Bookmaking Activity with Nan

This will be a one sheet of paper with pop ups book. Free

 

In all, it is shaping up to be a weekend filled with interesting and stimulating activities. We hope you will come downtown to take it all in.

 


Seriously. Have you been to Hamilton yet?!

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Time again for my annual beach pilgrimage and Hamilton rave. But, really, I hope that if you are ever in the area, you will stop at Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum. It is a treasure. I find myself wishing I had millions of dollars and could convert that entire block into printing and collecting and making art space. Of course, then I'd want to move it closer to my house.

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And since a picture IS worth a thousand words, I'll just save the typing and let you savor the view. The drawers are filled with various wood type examples, and the wall are filled with prints that people make when they go there to use the space. Someday, I will go, too, though I am almost paralyzed by indecision when I think about what I would actually print.




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Sunday Sunday

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I can't believe what a blog slacker I've been lately. I apologize; it's certainly not for lack of things to say. Slippery Time seems to get away from me so quickly. Anyway, I am leaving for a short beach getaway tomorrow so I thought I should at least check in before I go. Be prepared - it's a long one - there seems to be lots to catch up on.

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First of all, I should mention that we are enjoying some summertime with the girl. It's not ALL work and no play. We enjoyed an afternoon at B.B. Clarke beach on Madison's East Side, and are soon heading up to Point Beach on Wisconsin's East Coast.

You'd think all these years in retail would accustom me to the discrepancy between my schedule and everyone else's, but there's still some annoyance when people wish me a happy Friday, or act all relaxed and leisurely on Saturday or Sunday - fine for them, but those are not MY weekend days... Maybe I just need to fit more vacations into my schedule or maybe see about weening myself off of the six-day work week. This summer with its busyness and Mayoral issues is definitely wearing on me, though who could really complain when it has meant such a successful season? I was thinking about those parents who comment that they are tired and overwhelmed and then tell you that another baby is on the way. And as much as I am not a parent, it does feel like owning a business is similar - a lot of work, not a lot of pay, great rewards, a lot of work, great rewards. The complaining is not necessarily the kind that warrants making significant life changes (having no more children or going to work in an office, for example) (and I should know because I WAS in a job where my complaints were of a deeper need-to-change-your-life variety).

Still, there's no denying I've been feeling tired, and a bit more sensitive to criticism. Which makes this blog post all the more timely as a reminder of the rewards of all the hard work.  "There is just something about this store that fills my creative spirit and makes me so very very happy." Thanks so much for your words, Leanne!  I think it is interesting and wonderful how modest complimentary efforts from our fellow human beings can have such a powerful effect on our days. It is one of my greatest pleasures to hear from people every day about how they love the store, my words, the products we've found, the things we've made. I definitely take it all much more personally.

I was also thinking more about what was so aggravating about our Mayor's comments about State Street and this scuffle over sandwich boards. Naturally, one component is defensiveness - I don't want any actions which would potentially threaten our business, as I perceive removing our sandwich board to do. But I was also thinking that my reaction was more personal than that... for better or worse... (my former boss always used to tell me not to take things personally and I'd go home and say to my mom, "but it IS personal! She's saying these things to the person that I am!"). The Mayor made some comment about how State Street was looking "honky tonk" and generally seems rather sour about downtown. Since I've made a choice to be downtown, and since I put so much time and effort into making our shop look cute and attractive, I realized that I was also taking his lack of interest and his comments as directed specifically at me. I doubt they were, but I think that added to my sense of insult. What do you mean my store is honky tonk?!!!  Well, anyway, the City seems to be working a bit towards a more mutally agreeable solution so there's progress on that front.

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In store news we are in that transition time of students coming back and people leaving, that last gasp of summer (a lot of craft parties suddenly on the schedule). The official move-in for the college students is August 15th but even in late July we had people coming in to buy paper and prints to decorate new apartments. As much as it pains me to say this, it's also time to start thinking about Christmas. I'm sure most of the big corporate stores already have merchandise in and are doing trial runts of their displays. We are on a slightly slower timeline, and I got a lot of the ordering done in Atlanta, but I do have to start to review consignment artist stock (and do a little nagging), as well as look at our other vendors.

We have been getting more orders in from Atlanta. This week brought quite a number of boxes. Combined with packing up for Create in Chicago, this means the office is extra hard to navigate. Not that I would trade a clean pathway for fewer boxes. We received these pierced metal art pieces made in Haiti. The detail is quite amazing, particularly considering the simple tools used to make them. I've really enjoyed seeing the surge in Fair Trade products, evidence of ways to be in the retail world while having some sense of justice.

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Speaking of justice, well, you can imagine how horrified I was at the Paul Ryan VP news. Thankfully we are in the middle of making buttons for a Planned Parenthood fundraiser in September so I was able to channel my energy into creative ways of supporting ways I WANT this world to be. Sachi really enjoys The Onion's Joe Biden character so I'm just waiting to see what she comes up with as far as the two VPs going head to head.

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Other than buttons, I feel like I'm still slacking. I finally finished a batch of button bracelets but I don't know if I am going to get more magnet picture frames done before I head to the beach. They are really close to done, but not quite there. I managed to frame another blue sky snippet and am working with a friend to create a blue sky snippet workshop. Later this week, another group is coming in for a snippet craft party. I do love snippets. I should make more. Add that to the list.

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Meanwhile, Sachi has started sewing her Wisconsin ornaments so she is being good and diligent. I was over at their house for dinner and she has a cool Madison graphic design she's working on. It's got a ways to go so for now I hope you'll be content with our new Madison map wrapping paper. After all that agonizing over color, I decided I will probably only be happy once I can get a couple different versions (and color palates) of the map, but tihs one is good for starters, particularly seeing as I have no idea where I would store several thousand sheets of wrapping paper.

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Other new arrivals at the shop include: birthday and other note cards, including original photograph note cards by me, vintage dog & farm papergoods, the fun Wisconsin bars postcard, bicycle wrapping paper, lucky penny wrap bracelets, aprons repurposed from men's shirts and more Wisconsin onesies.

 

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And calendars. Yes, time to think about 2013. I am almost done with my photo calendar/journal so that will be in store soon. And I got the shipment notificiation for Nikki McClure calendars. Most of our other calendars and planners are in store.I particularly like the new little planners with collage/artist pages interspersed throughout.

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I rearranged the store a bit - always nice to get the instant gratification of sales when items are moved to new places.

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It has also been a busy time for craft parties: two last weekend, one this weekend, two this coming week. It's interesting/annoying sometimes how much time and energy is spent on anticipation. Sunday is my sixth day of the work week so two weekends of Sunday craft parties have been a little less than ideal. They always end up to be just fine... so why do I still spend any time in advance with all that anxiety? There's always worry about how a party will go, will someone hate the project, will there be enough supplies? I wish I could turn off that part of my brain. Last week's party of 6 came in to make comb bound mini journals. It was a pleasure to have a table filled with chatty girls looking for sparkly letters, "goose lady! who wants a goose lady?" "I'm going to make a page for each person."  Today will be altered Golden Books, which is my current favorite project. What was it that I was feeling tense about?  I've forgotten, too bad I won't forget before the next party. They always go fine, and fill me satisfaction to have the space used as it was intended.

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Tomorrow, I leave for the beach with the girl. I feel mostly unprepared, and I also feel like I'm leaving tasks undone. Perhaps that feeling will have changed after a few more hours in this day.



 












it's here!!!

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If I count the time between the first person asking for such an item and the time it arrived at the shop, the wait has been long. Thanks for your patience! 

We are so excited about all our plans falling into place - remembering a map maker friend, figuring out color and printing.... and voila!  our exclusive Madison map wrapping paper is now available! And it truly is available - I just brought it to the shop today and Pamela is rolling sheets into tissue as I type. Even though I could have spent another year debating about color, I really am happy with the way this turned out. I know it's not the coral-aqua-celery of the very first proof, but I wanted something a little more classic and less pop. I do still have visions of making the same map in different color palates so perhaps the pop will come later.

The map is $5; we do have mailing tubes available for $3, and yes, we do ship out. We send things via USPS so we'll just have to check on the rates. Do feel free to email or phone us (anytime) if you'd like to place an order for us to ship out. I'm sorry, I'm just so far away from having a strong online retail presence.  I think that will require a full time job from someone else, because I opened a brick & mortar store for many reasons, but one of them is my old-fashioned belief in a tactile and physical experience.

And even though I should stay and chat longer, I really must go because there's 10 minutes between my time on the parking meter and the start of the time they stop checking. I don't want to get a ticket tonight, that would put a bit of a damper on this giddy feeling.Map 008


adventures in batik

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This morning we hosted our Mom and her art/writing group for a batik paper party. I learned this technique earlier this year at Valley Ridge Art Studio. It is something Katherine at Valley Ridge has been doing for ages and every time I see pieces she created, I promise myself that I WILL take a class next time it is offered. Several years and opportunities later...

I've been wanting to make more papers so this party for my mom was really just an excuse/kick in the pants to get me motivated to work myself. It's so fun! I was seriously close to just keeping the door locked and spending the day dyeing and making wax patterns.

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The gift tags were the first thing I did because that's something I wanted to do in the workshop but never got around too. I'm not so thrilled with them, but the color is nice. In some ways it almost seems better to go with pattern and not even try for text, though I do like the script when it worked out. I've never really been much of a pattern person so I feel like I need to do more prep work.

I really love the intensity of the iDye colors, and they are so handy in their little packets, which still mix up a ton of color. I feel as if I've still only hit the tip of the iceberg in terms of playing around with shapes and interaction of color. Most of the pages I created are still just warming up. I'm not much of a drawer, which is even made more complicated by the fact you are drawing with a tool that drips melted wax which then flows in a not totally precise manner.

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I tried to stay out of the way of Mom and her friends so I mostly did a few pages at the end - trying to use the dye on the brushes so I wouldn't wash it all down the sink.

I really like the look of the batik done on map paper. I definitely want to do more of that. Something of the geologist/geographer in me likes the interplay of the pattern beneath, with whatever pattern I put on top... I start to think back to those cross-sections and topo maps.

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Last night I did sketch up a rough floral design and was happy that I managed to work on that. So I guess I need to give myself a little more planning time when it comes to patterns. I am quite pleased with the floral. One thing that is really fun about the batik process is that you have a rough idea of how it is going to look, but that final step of removing all the wax always reveals a bit of a surprise, usually for the better.

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Save Our Sandwich(board)....still

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All right, I know there's something about catching more flies with honey but I can't say that I'm feeling particularly sweet at the moment. That said, I might save the next letter to the Mayor until the expletives have subsided in my mind.

Last night there was a public meeting about the signage issue. My first post on the matter is here. I will try not to repeat myself too much. I recognized at least one City Alder at the meeting (though I hope more than that hear from the many businesses who were gathered there). The Mayor was not present, but took time to meet up with the press after the meeting. (Apparently he came after most of us had dispersed and said he was not invited to the meeting). First of all, I am of the opinion that if you have convictions, you should have the courage to claim them. For example, we have come to some strong political beliefs in the past year. We recognize that we won't please everyone but we believe in them enough to not hide them. I would like the Mayor to do likewise. He seems willing enough to talk to the press on this matter but I haven't seen many instances where he, himself, is sitting down to hear the voices of ALL of his constituents, not just the ones who've been complaining to him about sandwich boards.

At the meeting we heard a presentation about the signage issue and someone from the City fielded questions, and comments, mostly from concerned business owners. Sachi and I had a statement prepared but there wasn't really a moment for it, and most other businesses covered the points. In such situations, I always have trouble - do you stand up and say the same thing that everyone else has already said? Is there value in doing that? or should you only speak if you have something new to add to the conversation? I don't think fast enough to deviate from our prepared statement but Sachi did speak. She spoke on our lifetime spent here in Madison, our commitment to this city and all the hard work that we put into this business, and asked that the city respect our work and help us in our endeavor. Well, there was more, I'm sure...

And, I know, this seems like a trivial issue, and I do wonder what we are doing spending so much time and energy on it - it has definitely sucked up a lot of my energy this summer, a fact I find rather annoying. Nonetheless, for our business, our sandwich board has a significant and positive effect.

I did not have caffeine last night, for which I am glad, because as it was, I was tossing and turning trying to get to sleep. In the end, I had to get up and write a letter to the Mayor just to get my thoughts out of my head so I could get some sleep. Perhaps a slightly different version will end up being mailed to him, but my thoughts are as follows:

1. Did you see the Mayor on the news last night? The main thrust of his comments were that State Street is, and for a long time has been, about design. That's what people want, that's what brings people downtown. Design? What does that even mean? Design? Someone's idea of aesthetic that may or may not match someone else's?  Is that what really brings people from Chicago and beyond? People regularly return to our shop because they like the unique and interesting collection that we have created, they are not walking down State Street simply to appreciate the design of the street. With the execption, perhaps, of items in a museum, I really don't think you can think about design to the exclusion of function or content. And what the Mayor proposes is to sweep the street clean of functional sandwich boards so that he can have a pristine designed space. That doesn't even sound appealing to me. If the only businesses on State Street are the ones that people already know about without needing a sandwich board to explain new arrivals and daily specials, what kind of shopping district will we have? What good is it to have State Street completely clutter-free if there aren't any businesses there to walk to? I really question whether this vision of State Street is something that the citizens want, no matter what the Mayor says to contrary.  Of course, in my ideal little world, the voice of one person counts the same as the voice of another, no matter how much money they have.  Silly, I know.

2. Since we opened Anthology in 2008, my biggest disappointment and realization has been how little the rhetoric about the value of small businesses is actually backed up by action. I'm not talking about individual people - our customers totally get it, no doubt about that. They make a point of coming to our store and supporting our local business because they appreciate the value that we bring to their lives and to this community.  No, I'm speaking about federal, state, and now, local levels of government. How many times have you heard that small businesses are the backbone of this nation? Almost as much as you hear it about farmers. And yet, by and large, the tax breaks, the bending-over-backwards, all of that occurs for the large corporations who threaten to take away 100 jobs (or more). What about the 100 small businesses who each create one or two jobs? Until they are earning enough to donate money to campaigns or to hire people to lobby for them or find tax loopholes, nothing. But as small as we are, we are not insignificant. Collectively, we create a unique and interesting setting for this city. We pay taxes, we pay employees (and in our case, consignment artists), we donate to local charities, we recirculate money in the local economy. It would be great if the City of Madison would follow the lead of our customers and not hinder our ability to continue doing business in this community. It is to everyone's benefit.

So, honestly, I really wonder, what IS the City of Madison's goal with regards to small businesses? Is it to encourage our own ways of living out the American Dream, to work hard and be valuable assets in the community, to prosper at the very least so that we continue generating tax revenue? Or is it to make us go to work for some national chain that has an advertising budget big enough that everyone knows exactly what to expect when they walk through the door and don't need to read sandwich boards? I mean, really, Madison, I expect better of you.

So, what's next?  We feel that it is important to continue our public- and business-education campaign. We will continue to speak to our fellow businesses and to our customers; I probably have one or two more letters to the Mayor and Alders in me. I think it is important for everyone with a stake in the city, small businesses, and State Street to speak up. The Mayor is still behaving as if he's heard from everyone and everyone agrees that we need no sandwich boards on State Street. I know MY customers are not complaining to me about sandwich boards. I know a lot of people who think that the City's attention would be better spent elsewhere and that there are positive ways the City can act to create an environment that works for everyone.

Even though the enforcement is initially targeted at the downtown business district, I think any business should be uncomfortable about the idea that there is a law on the books and intent to enforce it - if there's a point when the City has more staff or needs more revenue, there is nothing at this point to stop them from ticketing any business in town with a sandwich board on the sidewalk or terrace or other right-of-way zone. And there are a lot of them, I'll tell you that much. (And there's a reason - we don't lug our sandwich boards out just for the heck of it. They work. They bring customers in. They help us PAY OUR TAXES.). If you haven't written a letter to the Mayor (mayor@cityofmadison.com) or Alders (allalders@cityofmadison.com), there's still time to do that. What do YOU want to see for the City of Madison, for State Street, for small businesses? There is a possibility of some permitting process being worked out that would allow us to keep our sandwich board so that is hopeful. I would really love it if some Alders took the initiative to draft some resolution or whatever that specifically addresses the way the state law does not support small businesses, and gets in writing Madison's committment to its small businesses and their ability to advertise and otherwise do what is necessary to stay in business. I feel like it important not to let this be swept aside to be rehashed at some later date (this is, already, a rehasing for those who remember the Mimosa ticketing issues from about 10 years ago), and I think the Mayor needs to be held accountable for his actions/intents. IS he acting in the best interest of the City?

If there is one thing that I learned from this past year it is that we are not alone. We are not alone in our hopes and our striving, we are not alone in our concerns. As small businesses and individuals, we might seem negligble, but we add up. And we ARE important. And we deserve to have our voices heard, and to be able to play a role in how the City is run.


in other news

I'm starting to wonder if maybe I'm just getting old? I really have not been up to speed this summer. I was thinking back to the days when I'd work on all sorts of projects in the evening - writing letters, working on some craft project or another. Of course, those were the days when I was working for someone else or was otherwise not as invested in my day job (such as when I was working on my thesis).

To be fair, we have had an amazingly strong summer, and year overall. I had some trepidation about going head to head with last year's button sales, but we're settling into our rhythm - more people know about us and are returning to the store from previous visits, the addition of t-shirts has certainly helped. I feel so grateful for all of our customers! (even though I feel a little exhausted and in need of another vacation, the kind of problem that any business person loves to have).

What else? Maxwell Street Days is always a big effort, that quick trip to Atlanta, the Blurb commission, the cat/housesitting, the battle with the Mayor about our sandwich board (see other post). All of these things are fine on their own but perhaps added together can be used to excuse some of the other things I've fallen behind on. And of course it has been so darn hot this summer. I don't know how people in the South do it.

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I am almost two months overdue with a batch of magnet picture frames and I'm sure that my commission check will reflect that. I *finally* finished another blue sky snippet but there are three more to work on, plus a fwe dozen more magnet picture frames. And then, I hate to say it, but I need to look ahead to what I need to make for the holidays. I have not at all taken advantage of the sunshine so far and would really like to make more cyanotype prints, also explore the batik and encaustics that I started at the last Valley Ridge workshop (ideally before I learn new techniques at the next Valley Ridge workshop).

At least I did get one step further in the magnet picture frame making process: did the drilling while the girl was watching TV. Now for eyelets and ribbon....

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This Friday, my mom and her writing group are coming in to make batik papers. I'm looking forward to making more myself so that will be nice, but there's a lot of prep work taking up my time.

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For the last two years, we went up the Minneapolis for the Creative Connection Event but this year we are going to Create Mixed Media Retreats in Chicago for an evening of vending. So now there is packing to be done. I'm not really a betting person, but I have a feeling that very few people will notice that I've been packing and removing things from the sales floor. I'm trying not to let the "it's so full in here" (said with a disapproving tone of voice) get to me, but some days that's easier than others. They should see my house. I do love the collection of small old suitcases that we've gathered for such traveling events.  They are so much more charming than plastic bins, even though seeing what's inside is certainly useful.

  Packing

In my personal artistic endeavors, I've been working on the pages for my 2013 Blurb calendar. It's more of a journal than a planner - there isn't a lot of space dedicated to specific days so if you have a lot of appointments and things, it will not be useful - but I'm still hoping to have some for the shop. Our various calendars are gradually trickling in. There will be some moment, perhaps in late August, which will be the ideal moment to shop - we'll have them all in and styles won't be sold out yet. Nikki McClure calendars are due in a couple weeks. One advantage to sharing the buying with my sister is that some things are a surprise. I love this new wall calendar that arrived yesterday!

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I'm also starting to think that I might like to do a little more photo manipulation. I'm not tired of taking pictures exactly, but I think I'd like to do a little more with the ones that I have. So I'm thinking about Photoshop. I know there are some online classes with artists, which ultimately is the look I'm interested in, but am starting to think I should start with the basics at our handy local around-the-corner Madison Area Technical College.

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And as far as the shop is concerned? Besides the restocking and other tasks that I've fallen behind on? We are starting to get some boxes from my Atlanta buying trip.  New books, sweet Mother-of-Pearl pendant charms, a clever deck of cards with tips for gentlemen, key rings that also hold fortune cookie fortunes. And, of course, the neverending restocking of t-shirts. As soon as I place an order, it seems like something different sells out. Still, I'm so glad to have the assortment of Midwestern-focused shirts.

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Orders from Atlanta will be trickling in over the next couple months. Those on faster ship dates include: dog and farm gift tags and folders, leather bracelets, vintage remix posts, aprons made from men's shirts, solar lanterns, wrap bracelets with pennies, and Haitian cut tin wall art.  Stay tuned....