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February 2017
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April 2017

Bubbler fun

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Treated myself to a little break from working on the computer and went to a workshop at the Bubbler last week. So much fun! I know this is going to sound silly, but I was so focused on the bookmaking part of the workshop that it didn't really sink in that there would be screen printing (even though it was Lesley Numbers). What a treat to walk in and see such cool screens awaiting our use!

First of all, Lesley Numbers is the artist in residence and she has so much planned! I was inspired just walking into the room and I highly recommend that you make time for a visit. I have never gotten to see such a large collection of her prints in one place and it was quite a treat.

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We got to print paper with various screens and then Katharine DeLamater  (also of Polka Press) taught us a simple book structure which we made using one of our printed papers. And, yes, I confirmed that I am horrible at bookmaking. I just never quite get all the folds precise enough for nice square edges. But I'm going to be adding tabs and stickers and washi tape, so you won't even notice.

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There are many other activities planned for Lesley's residency. I am particularly looking forward to the exhibit of Tarot cards and am enjoying the tarot card readings. But check out all the things that Polka Press has planned at their studio as well!

 


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collaging

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Hard to believe but I've actually had some time for collaging! Of course, that means the living room is even more disarray than usual - as there is one ongoing project of sorting through general collage materials (in four  bins, sorted by color) and now two extra boxes of the more precious collage materials that I usually take to workshops. I'm working my way up to just dumping the boxes of general collage materials. But not there yet. Definitely I could spend less time sorting through things... that said, sorting is part of the creative process. 

We are in the middle of a big software conversion at the shop so most of my attention has been on spreadsheets. Not very thrilling. I'm feeling rather anxious about making sure the transition is mostly painless for everyone else. Still, there's much to learn and much to do. It has been nice to go home at night (where there is no internet connection and thus no ability to do anything related to the spreadsheets) and just collage. Last night I hauled out the paints and added some texture. I'm working in three books at once - the three that I started at the Kelly Kilmer workshops last October. I have this idea of actually filling in the rest of the pages so of course I started in on everything at once. Up to a point, it is fine to work on several different pages in these early stages of just filling in, more or less assembly line fashion, but soon it will be time to focus in on just a few pages and add the detail work. 


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I'm eager to play more with Sharpie paint pens and add more texture and drawing, though that's still something I don't have enough experience with to know for sure it will be successful. I feel like sometimes I get so attached to making things match - pattern or color - when there are times that adding a contrasting element would be of more interest. Maybe working on so many pages at once will force me to practice and experiment a little more.


my turn

I can't believe how productive Sachi has been in 2017 already. But I'm happy to say that some of the projects I've been working on, which are taking much longer than I thought they would, are nearing completion. And as an extra, one of the projects, the Madison photo snippets, has just turned into part of my wedding present to some dear friends, and, I think, something which will be available for customization. We've had a couple businesses come in asking about custom pieces for people who have weddings at their venue and we didn't have much to offer, though Sachi went through many different options including some brainstorming about photo snippets which I was overhearing while eating my lunch. I didn't make all the connections though until today when it suddenly occurred to me how I could make some modifications to the piece I'm working on (which is going to be a rectangle and which is waiting for spring for a few other pictures to fill out the color assortment). In the meantime, voila! Amy and Kimberly's Madison photo snippet! Text may be customized.Amykimberly


protest prints, expanded upon

Oh, good grief! There is no end in sight! But, yes, you can be assured that we are still making buttons. and prints. and t-shirts. Buttons are certainly easiest for us because we can type them up overnight in response to whatever happens to be going on. But we have also been making more prints. Sachi has still been busy creating new designs but we are also particularly fond of the In Our America print from NWGSDPDX. We have them in store, but they are also available for free download here. We love the ways that sales of this print are supporting non profit organizations from our donations to the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County to the $10,000 (!!) that the founders donated to Lutheran Community Services NW Emergency Housing Fund. We are reminded of the Wisconsin protest days when the highest point of the moment was the level of creativity that people were called to. We are inspired by the ways that people are called to speak out and stand up.

 

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International Day of/without Women

 

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March 8 is the day! Next Wednesday. What will you be doing to celebrate? How do you acknowledge the work of women in your life and around the world? Doesn't it always seem like these things need more than a day or a month? Shouldn't every day be all things? There have been rumblings for a while about a strike and we've been thinking about this a lot - indeed, we had practice for this moment during the Wisconsin protests of 2011 - the picture above was taken back then. (love that graphic!). At that time, our business was so new - I suppose we could have gone on strike against ourselves for not paying ourselves enough.

What does it mean for us as business owners? What does our labor mean? or protest? or strike? For that matter, surrounded as we are by so many hard-working and amazing women, well, frankly, I am well aware of how everything would just grind to a halt if women weren't working. That is as well the case if women weren't shopping. And I realize that I might be spending a lot of time thinking of efficacy and efficiency, but, particularly in light of the way Scott Walker's tenure just drags on and on, the way actions we take are twisted and used as weapons against us, I think a lot about how I can maximize the good and counter-effect of my work in the world. I understand you can't spend all your time second-guessing your actions or trying to judge them based on possible outcomes or misinterpretations (or, for that matter, criticism from people who are apparently working out of a completely different "reality") but I have to make my choices based on... it is not a matter of what I am comfortable with, I don't mind being uncomfortable. But I do have some sense of caution, that my action be grounded in being true to myself.

And who am I? Well, I'm a Capitalist. There, I said it. I say this often, I know, but I don't think everyone realizes all the implications. It means that we made this choice to participate in a system which, though we believe has many flaws, we also believe is how we can be effective. We use the system to achieve our goals, our goals of facilitating creativity in ourselves and our customers and our vendors. We act upon our belief in Capitalism by marshaling the money that we make for good - as we send it back into the community, as we direct it towards other businesses and non-profits. I'm definitely not the kind of person who can live off the grid. I like the things that money buys and I really believe that it has power to accomplish good things. In that respect then, I feel like we have more power and effect by participating in the system, not by absenting ourselves from it.  I am well aware that other people feel differently and there are calls to bring Capitalism to its knees through a general strike but I simply wouldn't have opened a store if I didn't have this underlying belief in the good that Capitalism can do. So, yes, we will be open on March 8. 

However, in honor of the work that women do, in recognition that so many women are denied their full humanity - their ability to create, their ability to participate, to learn, to grow, to shape the world in wonderful ways, we are going to be donating the day's sales to two organizations who work locally with women.

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In all honesty, there are so many organizations and people doing really great work out there, finding ways to help women reach their full potential, it is hard to choose. We have some of our usual organizations that we donate to which focus mostly on young women but we decided to help organizations that help women at particularly difficult points in their life. The first organization is Domestic Abuse Intervention Services.  We are impressed by their dedication to safety, hope, justice and peace for domestic abuse survivors (mainly, but not exclusively, women) and their families. At this moment in time when there is such a culture of fear and threat, we appreciate their work to overcome violence perpetuated on others. The second organization is the Backyard Women's Mosaic Project, which provides safety and creativity and opportunity for women to discover and develop artistic skills as they return to their families and community from incarceration. The way this country has squandered the human capital of so many people is really a great loss to us as a nation, to our communities and to families. At this moment when it seems like only certain people are allowed the success and rights that are supposedly granted to all, when so many forces are acting to divide and separate us, we appreciate their work to instill a sense of creativity and connection.

On a tangential note: not to be a hammer looking at all problems in terms of hammers/nails, but the lack of response from Congresspeople is rather annoying and stumping. Ron Johnson took out a restraining order? Most aren't even holding sessions open to the public?  There seems to be a very limited idea of who their constituents are and what is being asked of them. Anyway, here's my thought. In addition to postcards or potatoes or phone calls; is there a way we can wield our power as consumers more? Would calls or contact with businesses in districts lend more weight to the matter? On the one hand, I object to the power that businesses have to shape legislators' minds; on the other hand, why should Ron Johnson only hear from businesses who want lower taxes? What about the businesses who understand that paying taxes is the price they willingly pay? You know, the Bill Penzey's of the world? There are more of us than just us and him.  SO I guess what I am saying is don't be shy about sharing your stories and moving your money. If you are a business owner, definitely write to your legislators from that perspective; if you are a customer, there are gentle and friendly ways to communicate to businesses your concerns. What would that start to look like? If, for example, all the farmers who rely on migrant labor started contacting Paul Ryan? If outdoor recreation businesses started contacting senators about the EPA? Well, these are just thoughts rumbling around in my head and you can tell I come to them from my Capitalist bent. But I firmly believe that we as a nation, as communities, and businesses, profit from things that are being overlooked and undermined by this administration. Talk of a general strike centers around bringing the economy to its knees, but what about making it work for what we want to see of this country?

And you? How will you celebrate? and speak and act and organize? how will you give thanks? We totally understand if part of your action includes not participating in Capitalism on March 8. We have our eye on some new spring dresses from our next door neighbors at Serrv, who are working to empower women around the world, and some loans through Kiva and some Madison community investment organization that I wrote down on a little slip of paper and now can't find. 

And, of course, we will have buttons. Someone kindly gave me a heads' up this Saturday. She called to ask if we had buttons, feeling that she cannot go on strike (at least most women have some sense of their indispensability I hope) but wants to support and represent on Wednesday. Made this one up special:

 

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we have a website!

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Is it weird to announce that in a blog? Well, even though I have been a little neglectful of late, I do appreciate the role that this blog has so we'll definitely be keeping it. Some things require a little more than FB or Instagram have space for, or a little more mobility/responsiveness than a website has. But, yes, there's an online store. Not exactly earth-shattering, but it seems appropriate that we go live here in March, almost exactly 9 years from when we opened our doors. We are in the process of moving our inventory over to a new software system and I have therefore been reminded, daily, that this store has something like 16,500 items. Of those, about 48 are up on our website. This is going to take a while. I am trying not to get too stressed out so I took some time to look at pictures of Anthology when we first opened. Things have certainly filled in a lot since we first opened; I expect a similar trajectory for our website. All of which is to ask for your patience.

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There were several reasons that we decided to open a brick and mortar store instead of a website; all of those reasons pretty much hold true: we think it is better to see things in person, to the point that we don't think we can adequately portray the entirety of Anthology online; we like the immediacy of interacting with people, the randomness and serendipity that comes from people who just happen to walk in off the street; and as artists we certainly know that the products a person generates aren't necessarily so unchanging that we can stock multiples on a website. Much of what we have is more or less one of kind and doesn't readily translate to an online store. Did I qualify this enough? I mentioned on Facebook that we were getting a website and specifically told everyone not to get excited, and then had someone come into the shop that day to tell me she was so excited, and had several people comment similarly. The pressure!  Anyway, in service of putting more Anthology goodness out into the world, helping people carry more of it with them when they are not in our space, here we go..... www.anthologymadison.com

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kind of like a box of chocolates

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Our order of wooden stamp blocks arrived this week. They look so tempting and wonderful! I had a lot of fun picking them out when we were in Phoenix - there's something hard to beat about seeing everything in person and making your pile of lovelies. I've used them with melted wax for batik printing but they are also great for printing on fabric and paper.  I have pretty much given up on sewing clothing because I just don't have the patience for it, but it would be fun to have a skirt with these stamps on the hem. Repeating a single pattern makes for lots of interesting possibilities. I've even had some customers use them for stamping on clay.