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.


busy Sachi

oh my goodness, Sachi has been so productive this year! My sisterly competitive impulses are in high gear but it's going to be tough to catch up.  I do a little prep work at the end to get the files ready for the printers so she has been sending lots of things home with me. Tonight it is two new designs for science t-shirts and a new print inspired by the flight attendant on the Spirit Airline flight to Baltimore filled with women going to march. 

But since January 1, the list includes: a Madison cheesemas card, a gingerbread State Capitol card (easier to work on Xmas 2017 now than in the season when things are busy), her family holiday card, a Great Lakes tote bag/t-shirt design, her mining Valentine (I pick you), the shop holiday 2017 postcard and gift tag, "nevertheless, she persisted" t-shirt design, her map of U.S. protest signs, a card about cake, and two pieces of stitchery which we turned into postcards. She's inspiring but kind of intimidating to be related to.

 

 

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persisted

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That is going to be the word of the week, if not for quite a while, I can already tell. I am getting the same feeling that I did after the "nasty women" comment and we're still running with that. It is nice when people come in the store and compliment us on our speedy reaction, but just as likely that someone comes in and asks for a button we don't yet have. Last week Wednesday, I took the day off to go to Milwaukee but checked Facebook before I left and was tagged by at least two people about "nevertheless, she persisted." I tagged Sachi and then left my internet connection so I had no idea how the rest of the day went until I returned home to lots of comments and likes. As expected, Sachi went right to work and came up with three new buttons. And the on Sunday, I came to work to this note, plus an email about how we were running out of pussyhat buttons. Naturally there are many variations rumbling around in my head, though I will say that the length of "nevertheless" is posing a bit of a challenge. We'll see how Sachi does with the hand-lettering. 


inauguration/protest window

Ok, this post got totally lost in the shuffle. It has been a crazy few weeks. And hard not to feel overwhelmed with the constant onslaught of annoyance coming from the White House. But I just read a useful article separating the actions into two piles:  typical conservative assaults (that you would expect from anyone Republican) and the assaults that hit the heart of democracy itself. Not to undermine the typical conservative assaults because we pretty disagree with that whole party platform, not the least reason being that they seem to only preach small government/free market/local control without adhering to it. But perhaps we can find common ground and work across party lines as citizens concerned about the very nature of democracy if we spend more energy on the larger threats to democracy itself? Because if democracy is utterly done away with then we have no chance to work on the other issues that are party specific. Or is that wishful thinking.

In any event, as I mentioned, I am going to try a revised format for blog posts but found this post lingering around in the saved drafts folder. I will at least finish it. With the following updates: we were gone for the Women's March! We were sad to miss it in Madison. It sounds like quite a lively time at the shop. We sold about 1000 buttons in one day (very close to meeting the record from a Saturday in March in 2011) and had to send Mom in to bring back-up buttons. Funny story: you may recall that I had switched copy centers because of some passive-aggressive Trump-supporting comments that I got the last time I picked up buttons. Even though I wanted some last "I'm not quitting" rejoinder to their comments, I had taken the high road and just disappeared to the other copy shop. However, that copy shop is closest to our parents' house so a little part of me didn't mind that I was going to send Mom in to pick up a huge batch of Pussy Grabs Back and other buttons. True to Mom form, she goes in, chats with a new guy who is working there who compliments her on her last name and they end up all buddy-buddy. That is something that I admire so much about Mom, even though it means that everywhere we go, she ends up chatting for a long time with someone, but she has this curiosity and openness about everyone which they respond to. I should be better about that.

Anyway, Sachi and I were in Phoenix for a trade show but took a half-day to march there. It was lively and energizing, a reminder of the fun days of the Wisconsin Uprising. The energy and feeling of solidarity is always a gift. So, Phoenix was great but a little tiring. We were juggling work, protest, anxiety about not enough buttons at the shop and sight-seeing. But all worthwhile. We went to the Heard Museum which was inspiring. I had just read an article about how the U.S. needs a unified national identity - the author was complaining that we are too bogged down in multiculturalism. But, of course, the good old days of national unity involved taking First Nation children away from their families to school them in the ways of White America. So that's no good. Clearly there are many aspects of a diverse (and immigrant) past which deserve to be a part of our national identity. Well, anyway, the trip to the Heard Museum just made me stop second-guessing my multicultural liberalism.


And, of course, we are still making buttons. The new designs just keep coming. We are grateful to Emily in Texas for the inspiration and supply and Sachi and I have both been coming up with new designs, though never fast enough to keep up with new indignities. We were inspired by the signs that everyone had at the protest and I've been enjoying Instagram hashtags which allow me peeks at other protests. I am particularly looking forward to the Science March.

 

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We received copies of Resist! the 40-page publication featuring mostly women's comics and graphics in reaction to the Trump presidency. It is super cool. We still have copies left so you can stop in and pick up your free copy while they last. I'm leaning a bit on the people around me. Taking comfort from yoga class last night when my teacher said her mentor told them "Everyone will need your heart in these days." I am so in love with all the people who are dedicating their hearts to a vision of the world that is what I consider divine - loving/connecting/creating. I'm spending a little more time than usual on Instagram, enjoying the pictures of #womensmarch and #pussyhatproject. #stonewall. #sciencemarch. #dresslikeawoman. and on and on.I love all the knitting and sewing.

A woman I greatly admire had a wonderful comment on FB:  "When I hear public radio or others say he will become our leader, I shake my head and change the channel. He will not. He will be the President at least for some time. But he can only be our Leader if we follow him, and I will not. I will not follow him in the paths of divisiveness, racism, misogyny, taunting the differently abled, favoring the privileged, putting his own wellbeing above all others, being totally self absorbed." and I'm taking comfort from the almost 3 million more people who voted for Hillary.

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My big preoccupation pre inauguration was the inauguration protest window. I've been mulling it over for a while, gathering all the pieces. You'd think after almost a decade of installing windows, I would have a better idea of how things will all come together but I don't really know until I'm in the midst of the work. That makes the time beforehand a little nervewracking. Lucky for me, I got an unexpected delivery of Kennedy Prints which is the icing on the cake, and a perfect touch to pull the window together and keep the focus a little bigger. The rest of the window is rather small - you have to come in close to really appreciate it, but people on FB helped me with a lot of great animal puns. In all, I'm pleased with how it all came together.

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There really feels like so much to say. And so few opportunities to really speak to those in power making the decisions that affect us (seemingly more than affect themselves). Would Paul Ryan even read my window if he happened to walk by? Would equating him to Trump have any positive effect? I suppose not. I would really love to know what action is effective not just satisfying to one's ego or feeling of vindication. I'm trying to find some balance between protest and action, between being aware of all that is going on and protecting myself from the paralysis that comes from being overwhelmed, somewhat cautious about where I expend my energy. I recall, time and again, how I spend a lot of energy on what-ifs that never occur, or worst-case scenarios painted in a broad brush which end up applying only to a few. Specifically, I'm remembering a time when there were some armed robberies occurring downtown. We put safeguards in place, ran though various imagined outcomes, and I spent about a week bracing myself with every person who walked through the door. It's stressful, and exhausting, and it also kept me from getting other important work done. And all of this is not to diminish the need for protest but hope that we can all find ways to get energy from our protest to fuel us for the long work that lies ahead. Hope you are taking care of yourselves! 


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week in review

but actually, I think I am going to try something new. Don't you just hate it when you go to a blog and the most recent post is really old? I feel like I'm falling behind. And of course, falling behind just makes me feel like I have more work to do to catch up and the task just gets bigger and bigger. In my defense, I will mention that we are working on a website (sometime in 2017) which will be integrated with our cash register software and will thus enable us to do more mail order for those of you far away. So there IS work being done. 

But I've also decided I am going to try a little variation on the theme and just post a picture a week. There are more photos on our Instagram and Facebook accounts, and you can always see new arrivals most quickly that way, but I will try to use this space to show off some of the highlights.

 

This week:

 

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Yes, that's right, we're going all out on pussyhats. I was actually in the middle of  a different t-shirt design which involved me cutting and pasting a hat onto the head of Miss Forward. When I pasted, as is so often the case, the hat was extra large and clearly outsized for the image, but then I thought, hmm... I kind of like that on its own. SO, the pussyhat print was born. We have it in print and t-shirt and postcard and button format, and will soon be getting it in a rubber stamp. I'm pretty excited. I like not just the speed with which it came together but the happenstance of the event. We are in awe of all the knitters and sewers and crocheters around this country. Seriously. I love the transformation of something so mean and demeaning into something that has connected people. I mean, just the stories of people around the country who weren't able to march connecting with people who were marching but couldn't knit/sew. The little ways that people can say, here I am, I stand with you. Of course, as a crafter, I like that there was tangible project to work on; it is always satisfying for us to come into work and vent our frustration on the button machine and I expect similar feelings while people were knitting. But not just anger or frustration, also a sense of generosity and connection. Because THAT is what we need more of.