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December 2012
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works in progress

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” Ira Glass

After my Valley Ridge Art Studio workshop last year, I've been mulling over thoughts of batik paper. I think the above quotation from Ira Glass speaks to much of what I'm going through. I have these vague ideas, inspirations from the work of other people (which never turn out until you make them wholly your own not just try to imitate what others are doing) in both paper and fiber (thanks, Pinterest).

But there is still a lot of work that I need to do just to master the craft - to learn about how the dyes pool on the page, how they bleed together, how to draw with melted wax...  So, most of what I'm doing right now is just practicing, even though I'm getting impatient. I was quite pleased with the batik book that I made for last year's Book Festival, but I also have some vague idea of some sort of installation or maybe even an art exhibit, not to mention pieces to actually make for the shop. Before I get to that stage, more practice is in order.

Today I ironed the wax off a batch of pages that I made late last year. I made some 2" wide strips of paper which I will use for 2x2 books for the group that I am a member of, but I also made some 8x10 pages on the map stationery. I love the interaction of the lines that I draw with the lines that already exist. I think a lot about the view from the airplane.

I still have to work on pattern and color. But I'm making progress. Of the twenty-something pages that I made, I am at least happy with two....

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There's some mix of serendipity and planning that I still need to work on. Maybe study some more aerial maps.

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a week of gifts

Wow.  That's really all that I can say. First of all, this week I was on for jury duty. Having never served before, I had no idea what was in store for me. For a control freak such as myself, not knowing what your whole entire week is going to look like is a little bit stressful. I was basically preparing for the worst case scenario - which was being stuck at the courthouse for all 5 days of the week. I realize now that I might have been exaggerating the severity of the situation. Which mostly just reminds me of all the times that we imagine the worst that is going to happen; imagine several different variations on the worst, only to have the reality come nowhere near. Even if the reality is bad, it is usually not ALL of the bad possibilities that you come up with. I've been thinking a lot lately about how much energy we spend (waste) on such thinking. I shall endeavor to do better.

That said, I spent most of last week making plans A-Z, including trying to figure out what I could bring to the courthouse. Because if I was going to be stuck sitting in a room waiting for a whole week, I could at least get some art projects done, right? The first round of projects were small and portable, but ultimately we decided they wouldn't make it through security. I don't know why round nose jewelry pliers would be threatening but I decided not to chance it (having already lost glitter glue to airport security a few years ago). But not before packing up a little box full of jewelry projects that I should work on. The next round made it into a bag: 2 books from the library, 6 notecards to write to friends, close to 100 pieces of paper to fold into paper cranes for ornaments to sell here at the shop, and as many fabric circles (pre-cut, so they wouldn't take my scissors) for cloth buttons to make into bracelets to sell here at the shop.

And here's how the reality of my Monday went: I did have to get up at an unseemly early hour which recalled my days of working for the state at the Department of Natural Resources (there the work day started at 7:45 and I lived about an hour bus ride away). I caught the 7:15 bus and made it to the courthouse, made it through security, in time for the 8:15 check-in and orientation. There was about 45 minutes of video and talking, during which time we were told a little bit more about the process. And I learned that it was highly unlikely that I'd be spending all 5 days of the week at the courthouse as most cases are wrapped up in about a day, IF they even go to trial (the threat of the jury sitting down in the basement is apparently enough to induce settlement in many cases).  After about 10 minutes, one group was called; another group was called after about 20 minutes. And then about a half an hour later, the rest of us were dismissed. And that was that. I was done before 11 am. I read about 5 chapters in my book from the library but didn't even get to any of the other projects.

And so I am left now this week with the sense that the entire week is "free." Well, of course, not really, but all the plans and back-up plans that I made turned out to be unnecessary. Have you ever gotten an entire week as a gift?! It's a lovely feeling. So, I decided to some extent to treat it as the gift and rather than return to the regularly scheduled program, do a few things out of the ordinary. No, I won't get carried away.

But for example, after I was excused and while I was still downtown, I strolled down State Street and checked out several shops. I'm not sure I know when was the last time that I did that. I even got to eat lunch at the Mediterranean Cafe which is one of my favorites but which I seldom get to anymore since they cut back their hours to just lunch. On Wednesday, Sachi and I are taking the day off and going thrift shopping which is a very rare treat and is more exciting that you might possibly be able to imagine. Everyone tells me about the Verona Goodwill but I have yet to go, so Wednesday is the day.

And just to show you that I'm not getting totally carried away, last night I sorted through all my junk mail and started gathering all my tax paperwork. I have a friend recently who was complaining about the never-ending laundry task, for me it is paper. I have piles that I intended to file once I got a file cabinet from SWAP, baskets that catch the reyclable and the shredable.... I am reminded of the movie Barcelona where the rather intense main character has a system for his papers. He puts a dot on the papers every time he puts his hands on them. I haven't seen it in a while, but I thought the logic was not about identifying what was important, but about trying to keep the papers to a minimum (after x number of dots you should be done with the paper, something like that). But of course he just ends up with lots of dots on his papers. My papers would be covered with dots given the amount of shuffling that I do. The file cabinet has been mostly empty for at least a year. A task such as this seems so grueling and can hang over your head; even though there were certainly more pressing things that I could be doing - all those pressing things that usually result in this task being postponed. Nonetheless, the very fact of that task hanging over my head creates some weight that I was more than ready to be done with. I'm not completely done - there are two more boxes, I think. (This is the problem with being an artist because even though old school notes are utterly useless in the scheme of the everyday, there is that slim possibility that they would be really cool collage backgrounds. Nonetheless, if that is true, then they need to be in the collage background boxes, not in the file cabinet of important information. At this moment, heaven forbid, if anything happens to me, someone is going to have a nightmare of sorting to do. I'm starting to think I should parse out that task so it doesn't all land on my mom. OR just deal with all myself right now).

I didn't take my sister up on the "just take the whole week off" offer, because I am quite sure she will regret that, but I  am thinking about some of the fun things that have been put off since the holidays. For example, I have a huge pile of batik papers that I need to iron the wax off of. Especially since we are expecting cold and nasty weather for the rest of the week, I will probably tackle that project. Now that I have all those various projects gathered (for my time at the courthouse), there is no excuse not to take them to the next step. So maybe this isn't looking any different from my usual week, but it still feels a little different. That said, with all this "free" time, I will probably not clean the kitchen as I should.

So, that's how my week has begun. Then, this morning, I arrived to work to find a package from a friend in Washington. Truth to tell, she was our part-timer's friend first but as is the way of Facebook, you get to learn more about acquantainces than you might otherwise. The package was a padded envelope, vaguely paperback size. Since it turns out that we have a very similar taste in books, I imagined that it was a book from Jonathan Carroll, an author who I have only just discovered but who we both like. I know it sounds like I'm exaggerating, but the reality of the package was so far from what I thought and such an amazing surprise that it makes me teary.

Here it is:

 

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Picture upon picture... all with plenty of blue sky for snippeting. Now, I have to say that since post-Christmas customers and traveling to CHA, I am feeling very keenly the consumerism of our world - a feeling I realize is at odds with being a shopgirl. But when you travel to these trade shows you get to see all the possible things for sale - a much wider range than you as a customer see at our shop - and it does get a little overwhelming. What are we doing with all this stuff? Where is it coming from? Where is it going? Is it making our lives better? Additionally, a customer came into the shop looking for a present for a friend who was in the end stages of a disease. Now, obviously, I AM a shopgirl, I like stuff, I LOVE giving presents - I would not be in the business if I didn't. But another part of me thinks: what can any material thing do or say that would ease someone's grief or loss, that would truly celebrate their joys? But I think this gets back to one of my resolutions from a few years ago, and that was Collect Mindfully (and from my journal entry on the subject: "collect mindfully: Don't get wrapped up in stuff for the sake of stuff.  Choose the things that are meaninful to you and release the rest.  Someone else might love it.  Don't waste time and energy and emotion on things that are not your passion."). I think that sometimes we get caught up in the purchasing of stuff just for the sake of purchasing; that you are trying to find the way to convey your love and caring to someone and we try to fill that with stuff. I am not minimizing the ability of certain stuff to convey such messages - I have my share of perfect presents given and received, but their perfection is not just in the money that was spent. I am finding a difference in stuff bought at a national chain and stuff bought at an independent shop, between stuff bought and stuff made...

ANYWAY, this present that I received is pretty perfect. Because it is so totally me. Not only does it give me the potential for another project, it is within a realm that I am already working (not that new projects aren't bad presents); and the level of detail and time of this present is amazingly high. I know well enough what it takes to get pictures printed, to label each one... not to mention the simple fact of getting to the post office and all that. In some ways it might seem like a simple present, but it is pretty awesome.

SO, Monday I got excused from jury duty, Tuesday I got a package full of blue skies, Wednesday I am going thrift shopping. Is it any wonder that I am treating this week as a gift?


simple paper pleasures

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"Resorting to connecting the dots this morning because it was a long night & he needs to do something really simple to get started again."

Story People by Brian Andreas

I'm happy to note that I'm gradually getting back into the swing of things.  I've done a little more rearranging and restocking around the shop, and I cleared the jigsaw puzzle off my coffee table so that the crafting space is available.  I spent a few hours making magnet picture frames earlier in the week, and in the process discovered that I'm running out of certain colors of paper. I have a huge stack of pre-cut paper but naturally I needed more.

Add to that the memory of early January inventory - spending a few hours counting all our lovely wrapping paper, and being reminded of the many pretties that we have and you get a wrapping paper project of immense proportions. If I wasn't leaving for jury duty on Monday, it would have gotten even bigger. As it is, I mostly focused on picking out wrapping paper sheets for magnet picture frames and paper chains. The picking out is always the fun part, which was followed by several hours of paper cutting... not as fun.

But that meant that last night (sleepover night), I was ready with a project. We had an enjoyable night making paper chains and watching "Brave." I wanted the chains to be somewhat oversized so I cut strips 2" wide and 12" long. They are going to hang in the window so I wanted the variety of papers to be really visible. But I can see that it might be fun (at least as far as finished products are concerned) to make mini paper chains - maybe less than an inch wide? and 6-8" long?

It has been ages since I made paper chains but as we were working on them last night I was totally reminded of the Brian Andreas story that I included at the top of this post - nice to work on a craft project, but also keep it rather simple... just get back into the swing of making things.

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Overall, I'm quite pleased with the end result. The mix of papers and colors is very appealing to me. And I'm already thinking about a craft table project. Maybe in late August when the students are decorating their dorms. We are hoping to revise the craft party menu soon, with some projects and ideas that we came back from California with. That will definitely be an addition to the list. The few double-sided papers that we have were particuarly nice for paper chains.

Lily is coming to the shop tonight to help me hang them in the window. She really wanted to help decorate the window. I'm afraid she will be a little disappointed that most of it is done. But I have plans for her assistance with our birthday window. If only I had known she wanted to help so much - I could have used her help hanging ornaments on the Christmas tree.


felted warmth

The boxes really ARE starting to arrive! Today brought several new shipments including stickers, address books, craft books, and tiny little tins to store little things in (such little sets are always irresistable to me).

We are also thinking warm thoughts because of a shipment of felted wool that we are unpacking. We found this vendor at CHA and were excited about all the possibilities: garlands, sweater embellishments, earrings, acorn ornaments...  The felted wool comes in a variety of shapes: flat circles and flower cut-outs, colorful balls, and larger sheets to form your own shapes.

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I am particularly happy about these colorful little bundles that have small rectangles of felted wool. I got a similiar bundle for my sister and she embellished her sweater with green leaves. I have a boring gray boiled wool jacket that I am just dying to add a little color to!

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ok... let the new year begin...

I know, I know, January is already well underway, I really shouldn't be so pokey. The time away in California certainly helped, but I am still feeling rather lazy. I did seem to get that cold that so many people have but am down to just the sniffles and the lingering coughing. That's not reason enough for my laziness. I'm pretty sure that any day now I will stop talking about getting back to work and jump back in. Soon. Very soon.

I decided to start another jigsaw puzzle at home, which completely takes over my coffee table, which is where I should be doing art projects. But I just decided last night that I really really should get to work so I'm going to cut the puzzling short. The puzzle is a Charlie Harper puzzle of migrating birds... against a blue sky, which I think I will pack up instead of doing my usual systematic piecing of same-colored pieces. I'm pretty sure that as soon as I get the assembly line up and running it will be smooth sailing. The biggest hurdle is always getting started. I do have the possibility of jury duty next week so I'm just waiting to see if that will come true. If yes, it means thinking up projects that I can take to the courthouse and sit and wait with (will they let me bring the round-nose jewelry pliers through security with my beading supplies or should I just bring paper cranes?). If no, it means a week freed up... for working on projects. I'll get there.

In the meantime, I am two days away from wrapping up the year-end bookwork for the accountant. Once that is done, I will feel like the new year really can begin. I'm sure of it.

And just in time, because the new arrivals have already begun.

I installed the Valentine window, with the exception of some paper chains that I am going to make with my niece on our sleepover night. She's been anxious to help out with the window - and that's the sort of action you want to encourage and reward.

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I also rearranged our note card backstock which was a long overdue task. It was fun to be reminded of all our lovelies and also rearrange them on the sales floor a bit. Now we are finally having some time to recuperate from the holidays and to do a little restocking and rearranging. I am especially pleased with our collection of Valentine cards this year, and also enjoying the steady build-up of our Mother's Day cards. For some reason, Mother's Day seems to always catch us flat-footed. A lot of times, card companies only have a few designs that we like so we kind of have to create the collection over a series of orders. Our first Mother's Day we ran out of cards so fast that we went home to our own card collections to add to the stock. At least two years I've had to make emergency runs to the copy shop to create some cards. We'll see if we can skip that tradition this time around.

As far as new arrivals, we received our first order from the Craft & Hobby show: felted wool that comes in sheets, pre-cut circles and flower shapes and balls. Sachi used such felt to embellish a sweater and we've had a lot of people asking. I got a couple other shipment notifications this week so there is more on the way. I know some bezels are coming, which means no excuse not to finish up that photo charm commission and the Madison necklaces that I didn't get to before Christmas. And we got some boxed notes and new wrapping paper designs, including canned goods, macaroons, mustaches and guitars. Over the last couple years, it has been really great to see how many people are sending note cards and using wrapping paper (if not for actual wrapping, then for art projects and wall decor). It is fun to be a part of a paper renaissance even when so much of the world seems to be about digital technology. We are looking forward to more journals, stationery, sheets of paper and note cards.

On a political note, I have to admit that politics at the state level are rather preoccupying my attention, and overwhelming my enjoyment of Obama's second term. I'm rather dismayed by the little inklings of action of our Governor and state legislators - including the Governor's secret declaration of a "Protect Life" Day. IF by protecting life, they meant something more than the first 9 months, I would be elated. And I don't at all dismiss the importance of the first 9 months of a person's life, but if that's all that you protect, while cutting away social services, educational opportunities, health care, work opportunities and all else, then I don't have a lot of hope for the remaining 840 months, nor do I particularly respect your claim that you are protecting life. All that doesn't fit in a button, unfortunately so there is some work to be done. Meanwhile in the state legislature, today was the one and only public hearing in Madison on a mine in Northern Wisconsin (what? no hearing amongst the communities that will actually be affected? no wonder people hate government). There seems to be little interest in creating jobs that will actually benefit the state. So that's disappointing. I've still not been paying deep attention to politics because as soon as I do I get outraged, but it is clearly time to start up the button machine again.

In the meanwhile, we got another shipment of the great prints on vintage dictionary pages. This one particularly spoke to me. There are any number of things that I cannot WAIT to be destroyed by the truth... much of which traces back to the Wisconsin GOP.


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the happiest place...

It's hard to say which is the actual happiest place on earth for me...

The aisles of the Craft & Hobby Association trade show?

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The sandy & sunny shores of Southern California?

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Or the place that actually bills itself as the happiest place?

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As far as you are concerned, the first might be the truest. But we did have a lovely getaway. Although I caught a cold and am returning to colder weather and a long list of chores, I was more than ready for the break. I'm feeling a little more rested. And also refreshed. And crafty and inspired. So it's all good.

The business component of our trip was attending the Craft & Hobby Association (CHA) trade show. In past years, we have taken little workshops but we didn't register in time this year and anything that tempted us was already filled. I find myself in a strange position of being a shopgirl and also feeling rather ambivalent about the stuffness of our world. CHA has zillions of make n' take opportunities which are a great chance to try out new products and projects - a person could probably just do that the entire time, and yet part of me was a little uninterested - either the projects were for products we wouldn't carry at the shop, or the finished product wasn't really something I wanted to pack and take home and try to find room for. There were many clever projects and products but I guess I was in more of an observing frame of mind. That said, there were certainly temptations. We love what Vintaj brass is doing with inks and color on their brass pieces (here is a case of something that we like but aren't sure we would carry in the shop - the inks, I mean). And Elmer's glue had a very fun looking bulletin board project. I might be getting picky in my advanced age. As is often the case, there might be components that I like about a project, but I would use different paper, different colors, etc. I'm not ignoring the process-related component of the experience, there just wasn't a process that outweighed the product for me. I am still a stuff person, I'm not denying that, but I'm just being a little more careful about what stuff comes into my life.

One stand-out make n' take was the tote bag that Sachi made using Martha Stewart craft paints and screens. When I initially walked by, the screen they were using wasn't to my liking but by the time Sachi was ready to stand in line, they were using a lovely doily which I am quite jealous of. Then again, I actually have more than enough bags, so I was mostly content to leave the project to Sachi while I looked at paint colors. The project was certainly perfect because I did order paints and screens and it is good for us to know how to use them. I do love Martha's style. I had been thinking about getting fabric paint for the shop and am also interested in expanding our stencil selection so that people can do their own stamping/printing - such as on t-shirts and tote bags, so it was perfect to find this product. Martha is also making translucent paint for painting on glass. There were so many lovely examples, and so many pretty colors to choose from. I had quite a hard time making up my mind. How clever is that to stencil designs onto old book covers? That has great potential for a store window...

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Other orders include: crafty books, tags, scrapbook paper and ephemera, bezels, felt, trinkets, stickers, mini storage tins... and much more. The ship dates are spread out over the next couple months so you'll have to stay tuned for new arrivals.

The other component of CHA is walking up and down the aisles and being inspired, not just by product for sale, but by the clever merchandising and ideas that each vendor shares. The booths are always brimming with clever ideas. One booth had sawed old suitcases in half and was using them as shelves in their booth. These lovely books were covered with paper and washi tape.

  covered books

 

Still other booths had collages of book pages,  paper sculptures, and any number of items covered with paper or paper tape.

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Finally, it is nice just to leave cold winter in Wisconsin. Part of the enjoyment lies in returning home - despite the cold, it is nice to be back in my bed, back to our shop. It is always fun to get out and see what is going on in the retail world, how other stores are displaying their wares and what items they are selling. There is some envy in the amount of square footage that some people have; I go back and forth between enjoying/envying a spread out boutique look and being totally puzzled about how they can make any money with so little on display. And there is also some enjoyment in the ego boost of finding that Anthology can hold its own, more or less. Everyone has their own unique spin on their retail world but I'm happy to come home to MY dream shop. I'm still amazed at the lack of card selection that I find out there - we know of so many amazing card vendors that we don't have space enough for all their cards, so it is strange that other stores seem to select from a more limited pool. I'm finding this especially true of places like Papyrus, which used to hold more interest for me. And, of course, after 5 years of shopping for cards for the shop, the things I like in other people's shops are often items that I've considered for my own. 

That said, we do love Blue Windows, a shop in the Belmont Shores neighborhood of Long Beach. The shop always has something charming, and their Valentine window was especially inspiring. Chalkboard paint on clipboards?! Looks like I need to check out the UW-Swap shop...

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In all, we had a lovely and inspiring getaway and are ready to get back to work. Time to plan the installation of the Valentine's/write more window, plan our 5-year party, get ready for the spring/summer tourist season, restock and make more things to sell. Oh, and deal with year-end taxes. Sigh.









going to Cali

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I've been in a bit of a daze lately - this time of year is heavy on thinking at a time when I'm feeling too tired for thinking. On a good note, I'm ahead of schedule on my work with the accountant - we finished up W2s and 1099s last week. Now "all" that remains is the final prep to get everything ready for the tax preparer. These are the not so thrilling days of our lives. Additionally, Tuesday was inventory day so we were closed while we finished counting the whole store. It's not a particularly difficult task, just tedious, though more enjoyable because I like the things that I'm counting. It would be worse, for me, to inventory Home Depot. All of us discovered things we had forgotten about which revived my desire for more square footage, with some modification. I always think of more space in terms of more stuff, but it would also be nice to have more space so that I didn't have to cram all the stuff we have into this small space. There is quite a lot that just doesn't get as much space or attention as it should get. That said, post-inventory, I've finally gotten to the pre-Christmas clean-up which allows everyone and everything a little more breathing room.  We still have our Christmas sale table but I also made room for Valentine's cards and craft supplies. It is a little early for me, but I know it will here before I know it. We do have two at least two other card companies coming in and are waiting for the anatomical heart stamp as well. I've enjoyed finding some empty drawers, doing some consolidating and rearranging. I've also enjoyed the instant gratification from selling things that haven't been sold in a while, all because they got moved around. It's nice to give the place a little freshening. I've never been much for the hard sell so I've compensated by honing my talent for tweaking the arrangement of product in order to boost sales. It can be a very powerful tool which, in my opinion, not enough stores make use of.

And with all that talk about needing more space for the stuff that we have, it might seem incongruous to say that we are two days away from our first buying trip of the year. This trip will take us to Southern California to the Craft and Hobby Association trade show. Each buying trip has its own perks, but we are particularly looking forward to this one because it gives us a chance to see what is new in the crafting world and also provides a little refueling of our own creative juices.

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I haven't had time to do a lot of planning but we already have a list of some shops to check out in Long Beach, which is where we will be staying. My brother-in-law teases us about our busman's holidays and it might be true that I should find something else to do with my spare time, but I'm looking forward to seeing what other people are doing in the retail world, and also just strolling without my down coat on. I could even just sit on the beach and read a book, wouldn't that be exciting!

I think one of our favorite things about this show is not just finding new vendors and products but also the displays that all the vendors create. There is always a lot of inspiration... We are looking for some new craft table projects, but also some window display ideas, new things to make & sell.  I will have limited computer access so I'll probably just blog when we return, so I'll just leave you with pictures from the last time we went.

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first pics

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And just like that, the new year is off and running. Or, rather, we haven't stopped running. Christmas day hardly marks the end of anything as the week between Christmas and New Year's was still pretty busy with customers and browsers and visitors. It's even worse than a usual Saturday which always has an annoying contrast between being at work while everyone else is at their leisure. As a tired shopgirl who still has to inventory the whole store, I'm way past wanting a vacation.  The crabbiness level is high. Being off on Christmas day and New Year's day doesn't quite do the trick. Inventory is taking up most of my attention at the moment - it is usually the kind of task that is much much better in hindsight. Mostly I end up saying, "that wasn't so bad," but it take a lot of work to get to that stage. Plus it is end of year paperwork and tax time so there are various bookwork tasks to finish. At least the first meeting with the accountant was more productive than anticipated.

Just a few more days. and at least inventory will be done.

 

On New Year's Day we have our customary Japanese meal.

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And then, even though it doesn't seem to make sense since I was just saying how tired I was of work, I came down to work in the office for the whole day. Well, not "work." I do like to be in the shop with the doors locked and lights off. I've been anxious to get some Blurb work done. I managed to organize my thoughts and photos for my summary of 2012, as well as get a little further on the girl's book (which I am late with, as that is usually part of my Christmas presents). This year, I am including things she said and pictures she drew, as well as photographs, so it is turning into quite a project. In any event, that was my fun project for New Year's day.

I have continued to be lazy about other projects. Mostly I was thinking about my playing cards. So it was a bit of a rude awakening that my sister's consignment check outpaced mine for the month of December. To be fair, she has all those Wisconsin ornaments on her side, not to mention her diligence in making them. Also, my check is usually bigger than hers, mostly because I have many more things at the shop (having spent the 10 years prior making things that I thought would eventually sell at a shop). Meanwhile, however, she has been busy making things and thinking of new items to make and sell at the shop. And I've just been thinking about playing cards. Which, ultimately, could be a cool thing for the shop, but are a long way off from that. I gotta get to work!

Additionally, the workings of the store have gradually taken over more of my time this past year and I see a little lag in my consignment check compared to the year before, which is really more of an issue than what my sister is earning.

So, now, after a little rest, I'm back to thinking about restocking and making for the shop. There is some fine balance between restocking what has already sold and coming up with new things to sell. But I'm starting easy with some projects that were already started. Origami crane ornaments were probably the first thing I ever made for the shop, long before I knew I would have one. I had several cranes waiting in a box. I strung them together under the intent eyes of the cat that I was taking care of. I seem to have no projects that are cat-proof but you can imagine that this one was particularly interesting. Luckily all the cranes made it through intact.

Craes

And now begins the work of looking through the list of past solds, prioritizing the restocking... and also brainstorming some new projects. It's always amazing to look back on everything that I've sold over the almost five years - always a nice ego boost and intimidating to-do list at the same time. There were several things I let slide last year so I'll have to do better this year.

We will be leaving for the Craft & Hobby Association trade show in about a week. That is sure to provide new fodder for craft table projects andother projects. We are looking forward to seeing what's new in the craft realm.

Today I inventoried our backstock of Vintaj brass. Putting my hands on all those lovelies makes me anxious to make more necklaces. And I have a plan for some new earrings too. And we had a photo snippet craft party in the morning so that makes me think about snippets.  I have some blue sky snippets to finish up and would like to make some larger Madison ones, as well as maybe just play around some more with some larger pieces. I have a huge collection of photos from various places and I'm thinking about a more abstract snippet... less place specific... 

The party went really well. It's always fun to see how different people interpret the same project. The party host made one for her sewing room with images from magazines; and there were some very sweet baby collages, as well as a couple commemorating weddings.

Sat 003
So I guess it is true what they say about no rest for the ... wicked? weary?