buttons. of course

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Well, if there's one thing Donald Trump is good for, it is button sales. Our dad still says we should write a thank-you note to Scott Walker for all our buttons. I refuse to do so. and likewise for Donald. I have many qualms about the current political climate, particularly as it relates to the well-being of our customers and general economic inequality in this country, but for the short term, we are enjoying the little burst of energy that comes from needing to make buttons to respond to the situation. The March for Science last weekend brought a flurry of science button making. I have enjoyed seeing the various marches all over the country, mostly from Instagram hashtags like #marchforscience #womensmarch. More importantly, I am glad to see people using social media post-march to encourage the next steps: calling representatives, voting, running for office, etc. I know there are some who would dismiss protest and march as a waste of time and even though I can see ways that the Wisconsin protests of 2011 did not have the desired effect, I see rising involvement and engagement that gives me hope. So, yes, we're still making buttons.


book page flowers at the library

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I did a little more Gelli printing on book pages this week in preparation for next week's book page flower workshop at Lakeview library. Gelli printing always seems like something that takes a bit to get into - the first several pages are kind of duds, but you can always print more on top of them, plus they are just going to be cut up. I think that contrasting colors actually work better, as long as you don't brayer them to mud. But maybe flower petals should not be so contrasting. The flower structure and construction is pretty simple but I love the look of the flowers that come from various book pages. I do like the look of painted paper so thought I'd make more of that. Since it has been a rainy week, that has given me time to do more printing. Plus, I need to refresh the flowers in our door stop.  A perfect spring activity.


Komai sister productivity/creativity

Well, I am a long way from catching up to my sister but I made a little dent last night. I have several projects rolling around in my head but fear that my skills are not up to the task so we'll see where that actually takes me. In the meantime, I'm watercolor doodling and mulling over... well, I don't know what it will be. In addition to the limitations of my skills, I am limited somewhat by printing capabilities. My new resolution for this year is to finally figure out how to get custom wrapping paper printed, and also to maybe deal with the Madison washi tape that has been on the back burner. We'll see how far I get. My challenge right now is balancing my desire for unlimited colors with what works for printing technology.

In the meantime, I spent last night on my second-ever screen printing sessions. Lesley Anne Numbers is wrapping up her artist residency at the Bubbler and wow, did she go all out. She hosted many different workshops, coordinated the massive two-deck tarot project and generated so many prints of her own that she had a table of prints she was giving away. I'm blown away by her talent and generosity. Last night was the last screen printing open studio. For a workshop I took earlier, Lesley let us use her screens to print so I went expecting to do that, only to find empty screens and start from scratch instructions. What I thought would be a short sampling of screen printing turned into a three hour affair, starting from trying to figure out what I would make and all the steps in between leading up to printing on paper. Luckily I had done some graphic design work for the shop so I had some material to draw upon, and I didn't get bogged down trying to think of some object to draw which would come up short of my expectations. When all else fails, go with text! I could have spent three hours just trying to make up my mind so I'm happy that things worked out with respect to narrowing the field of ideas. My niece asked me to make her a Princess Bubblegum t-shirt so this is the legwork towards that end. I didn't have a shirt with me so I printed on paper (went a little crazy with printing because I didn't want to waste ink, only to find out that I could scoop the ink back into its container - definitely not something that I try with acrylic paint, but maybe that's just because it is too hard to put paint back into a tube). And I might just end up sending the design to our local screenprinter to make shirts. My biggest challenge as always is to figure out how to simply use line and shape to delineate space, given how much I rely on color to do that job. And no, a multi-screen printing did not even cross my mind - or, rather, it did, but I dismissed it immediately for my lack of skill set in that arena. Just lining up the paper/screen/design precisely seems beyond me. Lesley and I have a long back and forth about screen printing vs. offset printing - my Capitalism and desire for efficiency usually tip the scales to offset printing in my world, not the least reason being that it frees me up to work on the zillion other ideas that I'm thinking about. But I do see the merits of screen printing and certainly love the look of ink sitting on top of paper, not to mention the satisfaction of the process so I am willing to concede those points to Lesley. But, yes, I'll probably make some offset printed postcards of this image.

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I don't know if you are familiar with the TV show Adventure Time. A friend's husband casually mentioned it once and I watch it with Lily. There are some parts of it that I wouldn't really consider family-friendly but there are some really sweet moments that have endeared it to me. Not to mention that I identify strongly with Princess Bubblegum as both princess and scientist. Anyway, the quote is from Princess Bubblegum.

 

Meanwhile, Sachi has sent a series of images off to the various printers (offset and screen printing). One of her latest is her version of the Madison flag. I mean, what more is there to say? Look at all those little drawings! I love the way she put various lake objects in the two blue triangles that are supposed to represent the lakes. This image will also be available as a print... and, yes, I should make a postcard of this one also.

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Besides her Madison flag, Sachi has a few other projects in the works. My mom tells the story of how it seemed like Sachi was taken a while to learn to walk but Mom once caught her practicing in the driveway when no one was looking. Like that, I feel like I tend to see the very beginning of a project and then all of a sudden it is completed. It is a mark of her talent, but also her hidden practicing and work - she makes it look easy but I know there is more to it than that.

 

Oh, and then I think I forgot to mention the other big news: the two Komai sisters' application to exhibit in the third floor of the Central Library was accepted! I have to admit I was having a lot of insecurity over whether our application would be up to snuff of the Art world. I know that my sister has the credentials at least, but I didn't send the best possible images (because I didn't want to take the pieces out of their frames) and I felt that I had to kind of push the round peg of Anthology into the square hole of an art exhibit. So, anyway, that will be something to look for next year, which is perfectly timed as that coincides with our 10th anniversary. The title of the show is Line and Color are Sisters, and will be a Komai sister compare/contrast. I don't know if we've ever had a show with just the two of us and I am looking forward to putting it together. There are definitely ways that I can see that Sachi has had an influence on my work so I think it will be fun to have a side by side comparison.


Sachi's work in progress

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Immediately after Sachi told me she thought she was all done with her flurry of drawing, she told me she just had her Madison flag to finish up. We've been getting lots of requests for a Madison flag but of course she added the Sachi spin to it. It is chock full of little icons! There are a few details yet to finish up (like the gold Capitol in the middle), but I love the way she put lake-related icons on the two blue triangles that are supposed to represent the two lakes. And, don't worry, she covered more than just the isthmus in the diagonal line that runs through. Look for this design soon! I think tote bag was the initial plan but I think I persuaded her to make a print and t-shirt... and maybe also stickers.

 


tarot preoccupation

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Little did Lesley Numbers know what she was starting when she asked for tarot cards. First of all, she ended up getting such a great response that she gathered cards from 150 artists for two tarot decks. They are on exhibit at the Central Library and they are super cool. You can also check out #bubblertarot on Instagram for a sneak peek. 

 

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I ended up making two for the exhibit at the Central Library and decided to continue to pursue the theme in my fill-in-art-journals endeavor (I have three quarter-finished books from my art workshop last October which I've been wanting to work on). I also made a couple samples for the April Night Light event. We'll have an assortment of supplies so you can stop in and collage your own tarot card. I found I really enjoyed picking a card, reading about its meaning, and then translating that into collage - kind of helped me work through the meaning in a more visual way (I guess that's what everyone is talking about with artist journals though I've somehow never really managed to follow through with one).

 

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The office is in disarray and new products are starting to arrive and I haven't fully cleaned up from the holidays AND I got some new fixtures so I have to find space for all of that. Which somehow led me to the distraction of clearing out 8 inches of shelf space (everything counts, right?) and going through some old magazines for collage imagery. I found a stack of Victoria magazines - remember those? They were of great inspiration to me for a time, so it is interesting to revisit them and see the things that still call me and what no longer does. As is often the case, only about 10% of the magazine ends up in the collage pile so I am both distracted and cleaning up. But I think I'm making some progress towards winnowing my collage stash, moving the rest of my studio over to my place (from our parents' basement), finding room for all the things that were displaced when I put the new fixtures in. Maybe in a week or two, the fog will start to clear from my brain. This spring has ended up being much busier than usual. Normally the cold weather means time to catch up on things that slid during the holidays but instead I started the big new project of software overhaul. We are slowly learning our way around the new system. We've had our old software for over 10 years (which is ages in the software realm) so there is a lot of learning to do. But we're getting closer. 

And I spent Sunday morning assembling the first furniture piece. Eventually we are adding a second cash register so I have to make space for that. I do want to get some cute repurposed dressers to replace some on the sales floor but I just needed something functional with lots of cubbies. But, of course, that caused an avalanche of moving. I have a chronic complaint about retailers that they don't do enough with merchandising to really maximize their sales. As someone who might not be the best salesperson, I compensate by focusing attention on product placement. Besides windows, one of the easiest sales tools is rearranging, and, really, should be done more often. So I decided to practice what I preach and did a big/little overhaul. Switching the socks and accessories for all the little paper goods seems like a small task, but even I didn't realize how many small paper goods I had crammed on the two round tiered tables. Now they have a little more space. Round tables are my nemesis but I think I managed to get things looking all right. I do like the socks arrayed in a circle - now I just have to watch and make sure the sales stay strong. 

 

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As I said, maybe in a week or two, all the dust will start to settle, though then it will be time to plan for our trip to the National Stationery Show...


job listing

Part-time Sales Associate

We are an independent paper and gift shop located in the heart of downtown Madison on State Street. We feature works by over 100 local and regional artists, as well as craft supplies for customers who are inspired to create. We are known for our Wisconsin-themed gifts, large selection of greeting cards and paper goods, as well as our political posters and pins.

We are looking for a reliable part-time sales associate and key holder to help customers and perform tasks that keep our shop running smoothly. Ideal candidate could commit to working through Jan 2018.
 
Duties include:
Greeting & helping customers, learning & operating our cash register, educating yourself & our shoppers about our products, straightening and restocking displays, light dusting and cleaning, following instructions on unpacking and pricing new arrivals, making buttons, stamping bags, assembling jewelry, opening &/or closing the shop during your shift, working on your own.

Qualifications:
Friendly, helpful and polite, interested in talking to every customer. Self-motivated & able to accomplish multiple tasks with minimal supervision. Able to work 10-20 hours/week, evenings and weekends, Typical shift might be 4-5 hours until 7:15PM. Please note extended summer hours when a shift will be until 9:15PM Friday and/or Saturday. Experience handling money & basic retail tasks is preferred, but not absolutely necessary.

Our ideal candidate enjoys interacting with a wide variety of people, learns quickly and works independently.

Please drop off your resume at our shop (218 State Street) or e-mail it to Anthology@tds.net

Thank you!


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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