Phew. Finally. My sister is home from her vacation, the outdoor Farmer's Market has begun, the sunshine is out, the grass is green, even the flowers are poking their heads out again. It's been a long winter. People are definitely emerging from hibernation and we've had some lively sunny days - just a hint of the late spring/early summer idyll that Madison becomes. The Farmer's Market started up around the Capitol Square on Saturday, though we were mostly excited about the number of food carts to choose from for our lunch, also amazed by the many crafters at the top of State Street: lots of fine creations and produce to be had on Saturday mornings! But if you can't get downtown on Saturday, don't worry, we have plenty of Wisconsin and Madison prints and gifts for you to choose from. Our basic Wisconsin pint has been a fast-seller and we've gotten a good early reponse from our custom Madison map pint and rocks glasses. I realize I've said this before, but I'm feeling happy with the assortment of regionally-themed items we've put together.
Although I'm overcompensating for the work that we're doing at the library by not getting much work done at the shop (particularly when my sister was gone and not around to propel my competitive spirit), I did spend time making some more Wisconsin charm necklaces. I really need to sit down and stamp some more latitude/longitude necklaces but haven't been in the mood to wield the heavy hammer. I am working at home on another batch of magnet picture frames. I've more or less wrapped up the wrangling of paper that was going on in my livingroom and have the space cleared to get some creating done.
In other Wisconsin/souvenir news, we are starting to receive postcards for our postcard show in May. This is our first time hosting this show and I was starting to get nervous that Sachi and I would have to fill the window with our own cards, but we're starting to get some submissions. I have gotten a sneak peek at Alison's submission, which she says have got her thinking about a series, and am super excited to get more of her charming illustrations. I like the idea of this new tradition. Sachi has been making more Gocco prints and will have some of these to help fill the window as well.
We are, to some extent, awaiting our trip to the Stationery Show in New York in May - to see what we will see in the way of new products and trends.This might be our all-time favorite show: a chance for two paper-loving sisters to walk aisles and aisles of paper goods. We are already receiving many announcements/invitations from vendors who will be there - fun and lovely things arriving in the mail each day!
But we did receive more tobacco lath wall pieces, cut out letter books, dictionary page prints with inspiring text. And, yes, more t-shirts are on their way. I really thought there would be a lull in late winter so I was cautious about ordering but sales have continued strong, leaving us a little depleted. But I've been told that everyone is printing for us and should be shipping this week. Fingers crossed. And, yes, I did get more Totoro items. I know, I know, they are about as far from a hand- and locally-made item as you can get, but if you could hear peoples' reactions, and the reminiscing of teenagers who look fondly back on the days of watching the movie, you might not be able to resist either.
Perhaps the most exciting product news to me is that my pestering email to Amos Paul Kennedy Jr. was returned with a phone call and two boxes of prints for me to pick from. No pressure or anything, but stop in soon for the best selection...
I love the various messages that he prints, but am also totally in awe of his artistry, particularly the ones with so many layers. You really have to spend time looking at them to take it all in.
Our time at the Bubbler is winding down, so we are frantically working on the last of our installations. I suppose this is pretty indicative of the process itself: two months from thought to product. I'm hoping I can have the wall behind the librarians for an exhibit into the next maker-in-residence's session.
Ultimately, I am cutting the batik paper into 2" squares and then sewing them together into quilt-like blocks. I'm having fun seeing the pieces come together and also challenging myself to go outside my usual color palate. I'm finding that the batik paper gets more interesting with more contrast of color and am putting together colors I wouldn't ever normally combine (like splashes of orange or red on sheets of mostly blue and green).
Sachi has been installing more cut-outs and other paper decorations; she most recently installed a wedding card garland up on the third floor, which is the site of some upcoming weddings - and how fun would that be?! I've been enjoying the response to the "take what you need" flyer, and appreciate that at least a few people are willing to take the high road.
We've been enjoying the fruits of other people's labors: stopping in to the Bubbler often reveals little surprises that have been left there - I am currently marveling over the paper diorama that someone made up.
I also got a last-minute suggestion from a librarian friend which is too excellent not to follow-through on. I told her no more good ideas after this one. But in the meantime, have gotten distracted from my final two weeks of Bubbler timeline to work on a set of photo snippets of pictures of the library. Is that too self-conscious or something? At least it isn't just photo snippets of installations that we've done. I spent yesterday morning before the library opened taking pictures around the place.
I realize that everyone is attracted to people in pictures, but I'm really just not a people person. I feel like I am intruding upon other people's lives to take their pictures and am not extroverted enough to approach them, engage in conversation and get permission. SO, while people are very much a component of the library, this will be a collage about the space itself. It has been a while since I've worked on a photo snippet with my own photos and so I had to readjust my thinking. Taking pictures that will stand on their own as a 4x7 is very different from taking pictures that will stand on their own as 1x1. But there is definitely plenty of material to work with. I refrained from rearranging books even though I would have loved to make a color-themed photo snippet collage that had a shelf of books arranged in rainbow order. Anyway, I did get a few artful pictures of the library so that was fun, and printed out a couple hundred which I will be cutting into squares in the next few days. Now I just have to go back to the library and figure out where I will put the installation.
I have an extrovert friend who says that we introverts exaggerate the direness of our situation and perhaps also use it as an excuse to get our way a wee bit more than is seemly, or to excuse ourselves from too many things. Still, I maintain that my normal state of rest is at home in my pjs working on an art project at my coffee table. Alone. So it is a constant but happy surprise to me when I am rewarded for being outside of my comfort zone. Which pretty much happens all the time at the store. And is, in fact, the very definition of my everyday shopgirl life. I'm pretty sure that shopgirl was not among my suggested careers on my Myers-Briggs test. I have this nagging worry that what I consider suitable interaction is not enough for some people - that I should be more chatty, more cheerful, ask more questions - that I appear aloof or cold, "terse but efficient" was a phrase used by a friend to describe her neighborhood barista - that sounded like me. Then again, I basically deliver the kind of customer service that I like myself, present and polite but not intrusive. So, anyway, all of this is just to say that, as in my friendships, it takes a while sometimes for a relationship to be built. But trust me, I AM paying attention and listening and responding. Like the customer who has been so vocal about liking anything squirrel and has now wriggled her way into my brain when I'm on buying trips and happen to see something squirrel. Or the customer who has shown such appreciation for my batik paper, repeatedly asking if we are going to sell it at the store - so much so that I even though I have reservations about what a person could do with batik paper (seeing as it is now saturated with wax and would be hard to write on/glue down), I gave her all the scraps that I've been generating in this project. Ordinarily, those scraps would be added to the boxes of collage papers that I've been sifting through. However, in that process, I have been aware of just how many papers I have and the lack of necessity to add to them. I was rewarded for my gift with a thank-you of cheese and chocolate (which pretty much can't get any better) and am now feeling quite pleased with myself for my efforts to counteract my general tendency to sit at home in my pjs alone.
But now that things are starting to warm up, at least there are temptations beyond the living room. I so enjoy living in Wisconsin (despite the long winter) - this moment of greening as the grass suddenly seems greener on your side of the fence, as the trees shift from grey and lines of branches to bursts of acid green and deep red, as the first hardy flowers start to appear even if the nights are still getting cold. Makes my eyes happy.