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November 2015
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January 2016

wishing you the merriest

Ha, so much for good intentions. Already a month has gone by since the last post. Perhaps you are following us on Instagram or Facebook for more regular updates? But, of course, there is more text and more thoughts to go with all that is going on.

Let's see, where were we? I think my big revelation this year was in September when I realized that I wasn't letting myself do enough frivolous creating (I was counting creating for the shop as my creating but the constraints of "will it sell? will customers like it? does it have Madison in it?" were somewhat limiting). Since then, with very little effort, I am back up to speed: working on a set of 80 color swatches and a set of 15 sewn crowns. Plus more walnut shell boats and 2" x 2" books. In the midst of holiday busyness, it has been fun to spend my evenings painting and otherwise playing.

 

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As always, I was inspired by the gathering of fellow book artists, where we trade 2" x 2" books, stories and inspiration. I'm always so keyed up after these parties that I go home and immediately start thinking of new projects. For a change, this year, I just went home and reveled in my growing collection. I do so love the way everyone's artistry comes through, even in a small book.

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I'm taking a little break from the kindergarten art classroom but did have a moderately successful last day. The week prior we had a new student - without warning, so no chance to get her caught up on a project the kids had been working on for several weeks which required days of paint drying in between. She got paper and markers for drawing but I thought about it all that week and thought maybe I could offer to cut paper snowflakes with her while the teacher directed the other kids on their final step of their project. I really don't want to be a nosy busybody or whatever but I approached the teacher with my idea and it seemed like it could all be done, while still being helpful with the rest of the class. I made up some samples so had a brief session of papercutting.

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The teacher expressed some hesitation since she usually cuts snowflakes with older kids so I modified the plan (from a sixth-folded paper to a quarter-folded paper (fewer layers to cut through) and braced myself to make further simplifications. I have already seen there is a range of ability in the class - I seriously forget certain manual dexterity issues (like being able to use scissors, namely). The new girl was very intrigued by the idea of cutting folded paper and must have done some of this before as she immediately grasped the concept of cutting out only half a shape at the fold. Other kids were intrigued too and joined in but it didn't get too out of hand so I think I was mostly helpful. At the end of class, the new girl informed me: "We had fun today." Can't wait to see what projects we work on in the new year.

And as for that holiday busyness? Seems like it is busier than ever. We've had a strong end to a great year and are ever so thankful for the many people who have made the effort to shop at Anthology. We particularly love the idea of so much Anthology goodness being opened Christmas morning.... or at dinner parties, host families, solstice gatherings or whatever other holidays you might be celebrating.

Besides helping customers, a big focus for me this time of year is merchandising - constantly moving and assessing product placement, making sure that the best selling items (and the ones we have most of ) are in the best positions, not to mention restocking what ends up being 10 days worth of Saturday-level sales. I kept thinking I was done: rearranging all the small paper goods, the window, the coloring books, and then something else would come along. The final rearrange was a long-overdue organization of all our blank and lined notebooks and journals. We've really expanded the collection and had not done so in an organized fashion. Now this librarian's daughter is happier. In the back of my mind is the thought of inventory - that's the second Sunday of January, when we lock the doors and spend the day counting everything in the shop for the accountant and the tax man. Not a particularly fun day but mostly tedious. At least this year we finally have plenty of staff - which has also made this holiday season much nicer. I have really had to work on my delegating and managing skills but I've made progress since my early poor performance evaluation at my last job.

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Other holiday happiness? Getting mail, of course. I particularly love this trend of using a bunch of vintage stamps on the envelope. It would be so fun to have a little story/theme going on.

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We did manage to sneak away to Chicago for a sisterly outing - Renegade Craft Fair and the One of A Kind Show and Sale. Of course we had to stop at Mitsuwa to stock up on Japanese paper goods and food. The bookstore has really added to their assortment of stationery and gift items. It's always cute to see how happy our dad is when we bring him back a treat from Pastry House Hippo. Sachi got lots of inspiration for new designs and we spent most of the drive telling each other what projects we should work on. She came home and immediately came up with this new onesie design (based not on the trip but on a package she was recycling).

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I made another set of customer comment cards for our holiday ad campaign and have had fun revisiting those. I feel such a sense of gratitude and privilege to have Anthology and all of its awesome customers.

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 We hope you are enjoying a happy holiday season and have a happy, creative new year!