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February 2015
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April 2015

more monoprints

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If I didn't have to come into work, I might completely give in to my new obsession with Gelli® plate printing. SO. Much. Fun. and I feel like I'm only touching the tip of the iceberg. Of course, I'm left with the quandry of what to do with the pages once they are printed so that has tempered my enthusiasm somewhat. But I'm thinking it would be totally cool to print pages for a journal (leaving some white space, as hard as that is for me) and then use the journal for a travel journal or something. I have an idea that a person could make some prints that would stand on their own but so far mine have mostly been relegated to the pile of paper to use in collages and backgrounds. Still, it's a pretty great pile, if I do say so myself.

For now, I've been focused on printing on book pages to cut up and make into flowers for our door stop. I had to do some tweaking so I just *had* to print some more.

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 For that project I've been focusing on succulent colors of mostly aquas and greens with some purples thrown in, but I have to say that the Gelli® prints I've liked the most are the ones with some pop of contrasting color (which you should either apply in two separate coats or with judicious brayering or drying time so as to avoid creating mud colors): coral and aqua for example, or red with anything.

I am particularly fond of the "ghost print." That's the second print pulled from the plate, when much of the paint has already printed on the first piece of paper. But there are interesting things happening with the leftover bits of paint. In fact, those prints would be perfect for journal pages now that I think of it since there is more white space left...  Of course, a person has to create first prints in order to get to the second print stage.

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And if there is any advice that I have, it would be to have a lot of space available and a lot of paper for printing. I'm usually working on about 12 pieces of paper at once, printing a first layer, and then continuing to add layers (sometimes not even covering the whole piece of paper but putting a little bit of new color in the corner or along the edge). Really, this process is perfectly suited to the kind of layering that I like to do in my collages and background painting. There's some degree of complexity that isn't necessarily obvious, but I still think it adds to the overall piece. And if you aren't happy with something, just keep going! (of course, this gets back to my chronic problem of knowing exactly what to stop... and ideally stopping before that point not regretfully after).

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Meanwhile, a customer expressed some puzzlement over what to do with her Gelli® plate now that she had one so I've invited her to bring her plate to a printing session. Unfortunately, it is only a group activity if everyone has one so for now we don't really have plans for a workshop, which is just to say that I am just going to keep teasing you with pictures of projects. I'm sorry. But I can't help myself. I'm quite pleased with my 2x2 book (inside) which was made with paper that I painted and also Gelli® printed, then collaged over.

 

oh, and you should see what Pinterest has to offer on the matter....

I would also like to note, per company direction, that they have given me permission to use their trademark for these purposes of discussing the work that I do with said trademarked product. All other uses of the trademark must be reviewed prior to usage.


spring things

 
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Whew... I was feeling somewhat guilty about my blog-slacking but then I checked our numbers and I see that we've been pretty busy with customers - 20% up for the year so far, which is especially astounding considering that I never expect anyone to come out during January and February. Still, you should get to see of what is keeping us busy...

I know it is only March but I'm already starting to obsess about the National Stationery Show in May. This is by far our favorite show: two card-collecting, paper-loving sisters roaming aisle after aisle of paper goods...  So. Much. Fun.

But, yes it is a little ways away and there is post-holiday restocking to be done. I could not resist some new sheets of wrapping paper, ferns, mushrooms and sweet origami animals,

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and we did get some new note cards, including the very popular unicorn card. I kind of want that as a tattoo.

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In the non-paper realm: more knee socks, new key tags with a mix of messages (from "eat well travel often" to "make today your bitch"), and lovely wooden doilies that would make sweet springy table decoration.

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Anthology was part of the March Night Lights at the Central Library, a combination art opening, craft time and cocktail hour on the first Friday of the month. We had two tables of non-stop paper succulent making. And it turns out that cocktails and a hot glue gun can mix.

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And since I was having so much fun with the paper succulents - made from Gelli® Plate (trademark used with permission and not to be used elsewhere without prior permission - sorry, somewhere there is a lawyer who made someone else send me the email directing me to say that every time I mention the Gelli® Plate. I'm tempted to direct them to Lewis Hyde but will nonetheless comply with their request) printed pages and unprinted book pages, I decided it was time to redo our doorstop flower pot so I created an assortment of flowers to fill the pot. I'm quite pleased with the final arrangement, as well as how well my outfit matched.

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On Wednesday, Mom and I went to Milwaukee to see the Ebony Fashion Fair exhibit, an inspiring collection of high fashion. I don't know if I am not paying as much attention as I was in the 80s and 90s, and I hate to sound like a grumpy old lady, but I feel like fashion was more... something... back in the old days. Interesting? Beautiful? I don't know. Something seems missing. We also wandered around the Third Ward, admiring the Anthropologie windows, walking along the river, shopping at Broadway Paper, eating at the public market. There's a cute new store to the south of the Third Ward called Hometown Established. They have a nice collection of local artists and I treated myself to a new necklace. It is inspiring me to get back to jewelry-making, though the first priority was restocking the Wisconsin love necklaces. But maybe I'll have time to play around a bit, too.

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Sachi has two new t-shirt designs at the screenprinters, and I've just sent off my first design. I have one more in the works. We're having a bit of a challenge with restocking some other t-shirts so it has been good for me to divert my energy more creatively (from fretting about lack of stock) to generating stock ourselves.

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Oh, and I also redid the window. Added a bit more yellow and orange to brighten things up seeing as we have a ways to go until Mother Nature will do the trick. But at least the temps have warmed up and I can see that spring is on its way.

 


trying

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I know, things have been quiet. I promise that I will follow this post with an update on all the new arrivals and crafty goings on. But I have been silent this past week on a matter which, of all things, needs less silence, not more. I'll be honest, it has been a challenging time to be a Wisconsinite and a Madisonian. The death of an unarmed teenager at the hands of a police officer here in Madison has generated sorrow and anger and frustration. But this event was predated by at least a year by a report that showed Dane County and Wisconsin among the worst in the nation for various measures of African-American quality of life. So I've already had a year of feeling tired and overwhelmed, of getting annoyed with myself for those emotions (because, yes, I realize that's nothing compared to the African-Americans who live the life), of getting frustrated by my inability to see some effective course of action in my own personal life, let alone for the city as a whole, of getting impatient with what seems like too much talking and focus-grouping and not enough solutions. So, there's that. No small thing.

Which is further compounded by daily reports of Scott Walker shenanigans: his horrible budget, the signing of the "right to work" bill which revealed once again the gap between what he says and what he does, the speculation and polling of national media on his chances of making it to the White House (please, oh, please, NO).

I'll admit that I've spent a little bit too much time on the what-ifs, which in my ideal world, manage to wrap up all the inequity and injustice and resolve it... with only a few teensy modifications to the way the world currently is. But, really, what if all the money spent on the military went to education and science and art? what if corporations paid their taxes and didn't spend any money on lobbying? Can't I just transfer all that money to the pockets of employees and to the budgets of schools? And then can schools have classes of ... oh, say, 12 kids? and teachers could have the time and resources they would need to help every single child reach his or her potential? And then can employees earn more than a 1:300something ratio of their hourly pay to their CEO hourly pay and be able to afford food and clothing and shelter for themselves and their families? Wouldn't that just be a lovely way for things to be? Yet I can't help thinking of the ways of corporations and politicians and feel rather discouraged about the way wealth is distributed in the world. Not to mention the specifics ways that Walker is setting up this state for a lengthy period of lessened prosperity, which, I feel, only exacerbates the antagonism that the GOP has manipulated so well - simmering resentments against race, or class, or privilege. Not to mention some panicked feeling related to scarcity - as if one must fight, at all costs, to protect what is "theirs" (never minding that what one possesses is so much dependent upon what one receives). All of which makes me feel that matters of liberty and justice for all are a long long way off. And every once in a while I go to the National Priorities Project and watch the money spent on war add up. Sigh.

In the meantime, some work clearly needs to be done. I know this is a little thing, but I keep thinking about veterans coming back from WWII and some of them getting to take advantage of the GI Bill and go to school and get home loans and car loans, and some of them not. As I said, it is a little thing, an injustice probably magnified in many other ways, but I find myself thinking about my family history, the ways that even modest wealth was accumulated and then transmitted from generation to generation, the ways that has not been a path open to so many in this supposed land of liberty and justice for all.

These are things I've been thinking about since the report of last year (which most African-Americans would say came as no surprise, thus revealing the blinders so many of us live with), along with the realization that my life is somehow terribly segregated despite any good liberal/Christian theories of diversity and desegregation. But how exactly to go about this work in a way that is meaningful? that is not overbearing or presumptive? That is true to the journey that I am on as a business owner and artist and community member? In reality, there are an overwhelming number of options, made more overwhelming by the amount of time that running this business requires. And yet, I am starting to see a clearer path for myself - which is a useful improvement from feeling completely overwhelmed and helpless. So, I've made a small amount of progress in the course of the past week, perhaps nothing big or revolutionary to be congratulated for but as a person of action, I much prefer having some course set ahead of me than thinking I need to do more hand-wringing or, heaven forbid, go to focus groups.

After we opened Anthology, although our Mother had always been really good about not eating at chain restaurants, I felt a strengthened commitment to buying local, a commitment which requires a fair amount of effort and thought to adhere to. I can see that diversification requires a similar commitment and level of work. And actually, I have been thinking about this with respect to Native American work as well. It seems nowadays that there are a lot of hipster creations that borrow on Native American imagery, borrow, and profit, from it. Are there ways to appreciate and include without appropriating? Well, anyway, these are the assortment of thoughts going through my head, as well as a memory of our uncle coming to visit and commenting that what he liked about living in San Francisco was the sheer diversity of people. And the lack of diversity in my daily life translates to a lack of diversity in our customer demographics and in our vendor pool as well. Clearly some things to work on.

In the midst of all of this, I went to my niece's elementary school for the kindergarten and 1st grade music concert. Pretty cute. I always love dropping her off at school on Monday mornings because there is such a variety, not the least of which the sweetness of seeing dads bring their kids to school in the morning. But the colorful creations in the art classes and the variety of children was inspiring as well.

And then we got a reorder of these cards and even though I am not exactly the kind of person to go around saying this to random strangers, this is really what I want for everyone - to be appreciated for their magical and amazing selves, their preciousness. I still have to work on remembering and acting upon that.

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work underway

 All right, where was I? Sachi and her husband are away on a belated birthday trip so I'm left alone tending shop AND the girl. It's only Tuesday and I'm already caving under pressure. Thank goodness our parents are in town so Mom is helping carry the load. Oh, and Culver's is for dinner tomorrow night. My brain is going in a zillion different directions: thinking about getting the girl to the bus on time and when to do the laundry, wondering what's going on in the Capitol and how I can have any effect (tweaking my letter to the Representatives, stopping in to register my opposition to the bill, trying to cheer up someone who came from Ripon...), not to mention all the usual business of restocking and finding new products and rearranging.

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Saturday was a protest up at the Capitol for the "right to work" bill which is on a faster-than-ever track. Frankly, it does feel rather inevitable that Walker will sign it into law, never mind that he said while campaigning that this wasn't a priority issue. It's discouraging and it is easy to feel powerless and voiceless, but I still believe that it is important to register one's dissent. The way Walker is, he definitely takes silence as assent. At least there will be a public record, right? As is often the case, action feels good, so we have our buttons (though sadly many of them have not expired from their initial debut four years ago) and I spent the weekend working with a graphic designer/union member to tweak his design for a new print for the shop. Coming soon:

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Having been at the protests 4 years ago, it is really maddening to see how they are twisted and portrayed as something so threatening - it is as if this nation gives more credence to the threat of exercising of one's first amendment rights than of one's second amendment rights, or at least certain segments of this nation do.  But that's another example where I feel it is best to counter with some evidence to the contrary. I mean, look at that woman with her cute cat ear hat? Is she really a threat?!

and besides politics?

More than usual, it seems there are a zillion things going on in my head - all the different PhotoShop card/print/shirt ideas are compounded by muddled ideas of a project for Friday. I'll be tending the craft table at The Bubbler's Night Light (8 - 11 pm March 6) so I've been working on prototypes for that and got totally carried away so now there's this big collage/paper flower something or other going on. Although people can, of course, make anything they want, I was going to start with paper succulents as the theme so I've been gathering greens and thinking about shapes. I decided to fill a huge gold frame with paper flowers like those succulent walls that I think are so cool. Except that wasn't quite working on so I've been trying to figure out how else to fill the frame. I came up with a little quotation/collage work in PhotoShop yesterday and had that printed, along with some of my own photographs which may also make it into the project. All of this is to say that I don't quite know what I am doing and it is all due on Friday. But I'm having fun using the Gelli plate to print on scrap paper and making various papers for the petals.

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We received new Sachi cards and new Laura cards so our spinner of Wisconsin and Madison cards should be nice and full for the tourist season. I'm feeling a little less behind my sister...

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And as far as store arrivals go, it has been a mostly quiet week. We did get more letterpress Madison and Wisconsin note cards, drink local beer t-shirts, Made Locally onesies, and more of the great bird magnets including these new ones.

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I'm planning to spend all of tomorrow printing on the Gelli Plate and making more papers for succulents. As usual, I'm sure I will generate more than I need, but I'll be having fun.