Already 9 days into the new year... Sigh. As is the case every year, I persist in the delusion that things will "quiet down" after Christmas. The deep freeze should have been enough to slow things down and while that works for customers walking on State Street, that does not work for the IRS. Yeah, that's right, I brought up TAXES. There's an avalanche of things that need to get done for all my year-end bookwork. That definitely lands among my least favorite tasks of this job. While it is really tempting for me to spend a lot of time summarizing the sales for the year, looking for trends, thinking about new vendors, the reality is that I must also spend time making sure all my notes are in order for the accountant and tax preparer. And then there's that little matter of inventory. Ugh.
"Is willing to accept that she creates her own reality except for some of the parts where she can't help but wonder what the hell she was thinking." Story People by Brian Andreas
There are a great many people who come into the store and say, "I sure would hate to inventory this place." And they are basically right. It's not that it is a difficult task, just rather tedious and drawn-out. So, just when we make it through the holidays and take a deep breath, maybe rest for a day, we get started on counting. We've been working our way through all the drawers and nooks and crannies in the office (doing a little cleaning and organizing as I go, but also making a list of more that needs to be done). Sunday will be the grand finale, when we call in all the part-timers (Mom is off the hook this year) and spend the day counting on the sales floor. Yes, we will be closed that day: January 12th. As a customer kindly pointed out, at least we get to count pretty things.
In addition to all the year-end stuff, despite any reluctance to think about the next holiday (seems too early, doesn't it?), it IS time for us to get our orders in for Valentine's Day. We learned the unhappy news yesterday that Archiver's is closing so we quickly rushed out to get paper for our upcoming workshops at the libraries (Valentine-themed for Sachi's three in February and travel-themed for mine in March). I know some people who just didn't get into the whole scrapbooking thing, but I think they were missing out. I have bought some great papers for collage and book pages and I will really miss the amazing selection they have. I feel the need to think about what possible projects I might have in the next four years and go back once again (already been there twice since I learned the news). We're putting together paper packs and craft kits for Valentine's Day, and we also ordered some mini notecards and envelopes so the kiddos can craft their own Valentine's for school. They DO still do that, don't they? I have such fond memories of decorating my shoebox in elementary school.... Sachi's also placing orders for some new individual Valentine's and we are preparing the craft table for a card-making extravaganza starting in February.
Although this is generally the very slow time of year that does not warrant any buying at all, we are replenishing some of our t-shirt stock. Still waiting for the Wi/Mn hugging t-shirt to come back but we did get our Represent shirt, Easy Breezy Beersy and the Wisconsin bicycle. Most other items won't be restocked until later in spring.
We are off to a good start as far as creative endeavors/resolutions. I still have a variety of new projects in mind and some very vague ideas, but I did sign up for PhotoShop so I am looking forward to doing more with my Madison photographs, maybe making some new prints and notecards for the shop. After her screenprinting class in the fall, Sachi is raring to go. She finally hauled out the Gocco printer she's had for ages, and has been printing like mad for the past two nights. This is her first design, I'm sure she has many more to come. I have some ideas myself - the question is whether I can transmit them from my brain to paper. We'll see - I've had limited success with such endeavors in the past. At home I had a flurry of picking-up which resulted in a more cluttered studio but a clean-up living room and entryway... which I have promptly re-cluttered. I'm trying to get a better handle on all the paper I have: magazines and catalogs for collage, also school notes and ephemera from my past. I had a morbid thought that if I suddenly got hit by a car, my place would be pure hell on my mom and sister to clean out so I'm going to try and wrangle some of that paper. Anyway, the result is a lot of piles in my livingroom right now. But I'm making progress. I did come across a box of childhood artwork, including the card for my mom which I distinctly remember thinking was the most beautiful thing I'd ever made. And I came across some drawings of mine from when I was 4 and a half. Not that I was a child prodigy, but when I saw them, I thought, "hey, I could draw!" I think because my sister is so totally amazing at drawing, I always left that realm to her, but that is something that I would like to explore more - in my own, overly simplified way. Which is to say that maybe, just maybe, I will be able to generate something that will end up being a Gocco print. We'll see.
In the process of cleaning up, I came across my pile of crochet and knitting and almost dove back into that, except I couldn't remember how to cast on. Clearly I need some refresher lessons. And so, instead of getting distracted by something else, I returned to my book of painted pages. After my book arts holiday meeting, I had lots of suggestions and thoughts to mull over. I'm going to end up creating a set of four books and then make a box to house them. The big pile of pages was just getting unwieldy, particularly given my inexpert binding skills. I had a grand idea of trying all sorts of different binding but decided that the cool thing about the spine is the edge of the painted pages and they don't really need any distraction or further embellishment. So I'm going with the simple coptic stitch, using six needles near the center of the spine (there are some smaller pages that are centered in the book so I can't have stitching along the whole length of the spine). The book is a little wiggly, but I have made improvements from the first two books that I bound - always satisfying to see improvement. Now I have to make covers for the other three books so I'm back to drawing with the compass and ruler. I think I will use different color thread for each book and will just adjust the placement of the sewing stations on each book so that there's no imagining that each book will be identical to the next one. I'm just not that good with measuring and precision.
On a small note, I taught my niece how to make yarn pom poms - I remember making them obsessively when I was in 5th grade. She picked out about four colors of yarn to mix in and I just let it go. I'm learning. Twice now she has started doing something that I would personally NOT do; once I tried to overrule her and ended up with a tantrum on my hands, and the next time I decided to avoid the tantrum (thinking that I would end up saying "I told you so") only to realize that her original plan was much more awesome than mine was going to be. SO, now I just let her do her thing - which is what art is supposed to be about anyway, I know. When I made pom poms as a kid, I definitely only used one color and was so compulsive about matching that I surely wouldn't have put together the yarns that she did. Yet her pom poms turned out totally awesome. She had to trim some yarns because they were "frisky" but she ended up making several, and even taught her BaPoh (our Dad) how to make them.