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June 2008
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August 2008

neverending store moves

Dsc02446Dsc02447 Given the limited space we have, we're pretty much always moving things around as new items arrive and as we put items into the window.  This week, Sachi put the big antique planter in the window filled with Amber's recycled bags (they were an instant hit -- people stop in their tracks) so we had to rearrange a bit.  I'm trying the button bracelets on the "cake table" -- it's tiered like a cake plate.  Moving around tends to direct people's attention to things they hadn't seen before so that is always good -- we already sold some things that weren't selling.  At Little Luxuries it was common to move merchandise and have people ask, "oh, is this new?"  no, more likely it wasn't at all new, it just looked that way in a new location.  More of the pictures are in the photo album but here are a few. Independently,  Jen and Tom came up with the idea to have examples of craft party options on the cupboards (the new collection of people's hands with their creations).  I installed those last week -- pictures clothes-pinned onto green ribbon --  and Sachi made the cute garland of glitter letters, spelling out "craft party." Dsc02430Dsc02452

unhappy baby!

Dsc02449 Normally it is very hard to get Lily's unhappy face -- when she sees the camera, she is very interested and often smiles right away.  This isn't even the half of it -- her mouth turns down so much; I just haven't been able to catch it.  Here's one from this afternoon.

crazy for crowns

Dsc02435 Goodness but I am having fun!  I finished Susie's crown today.  Hers is "queen of flight  gathers feathers in dreams of night."  Kathy's skirt and crown are awaiting her at the store.  Next week I am cat sitting again and bringing all the crown-making supplies over for a week of sewing.  Of course, I have several other projects that I am bringing as well.  Dsc02440 Dsc02434

magnet picture frames...finally

Dsc02455 All I could think about for my "intention" during yoga last night was "magnet picture frames magnet picture frames."  Not exactly a meditative mantra.  So, a little gluing last night after dinner, a little drilling and eyelet setting this morning before work, a little magnet making at work.  It's easy to get overwhelmed with the entire project (paper is cut for about 100) -- how about just getting to work, Laura, and getting a few done, definitely better than nothing, especially since we are one sale away from empty nails on the wall.  I do tend to get carried away at the start of a project -- cutting pieces or other preparations for large quantities of products.  It gets me closer to the mass production mode, is more efficient for my style of working (do the same step for several pieces rather than several steps, and several supplies, for a single piece).  Still, that can lead to lots of starting and not a lot of finishing.  Against all odds, here's the first installation!  I'm having lots of fun playing with different combinations of papers, using up (not completely of course) my stock of wrapping papers, and making magnets to match.  My collection of papers is definitely biased toward certain color combinations but people seem to be enjoying them and finding some that match for their purposes anyway.  I still have to make magnets but I must say it was really effective to have this post already drafted -- that gave me the push to at least finish a batch of 2 dozen.  Still a lot more to go but it is progress.  Here's one finished one, which I'm really just including so I can show off that adorable girl!Dsc02456

Sunday Sunday

 I woke very early this morning -- went to the grocery store to get donuts for Dad and me (Mom is out of town), then stopped off to spend a little time on the porch with the cats, and then headed downtown (because I love to get my close loading zone parking space which is unenforced on Sundays).  WAY too early to be at work, even sitting at the computer playing mahjongg or sending emails.  I took a walk down State Street to the Union.  Guess I'll have to get up earlier to have the place all to myself.  Nonetheless, it was nice to walk around... I'm feeling nostalgic -- standing up there on the Tripp Commons deck, looking down on the chairs, I remember all those ballroom dances that I went to (I was obsessed during my grad school years but it has been ages since I've been out dancing.  Sigh.  I'd really like to spend a night salsa dancing soon). 

Hooray!  I get to see Lily soon.  I know it has only been a week, but I missed her.  Sachi called last night to check in.  I just got her message but didn't really feel like calling back.  I'm not sure about the usefulness of the vacationer calling the one who stayed at home.  I mean, it is nice to know you weren't forgotten, but her voice was WAY too cheerful.  I just turned off my phone and went to bed.  Anyway, she'll be at work on Monday so I can have a day off, such as it is -- I've got a fabric swatch delivery to make, as well as a mailing list database to set up.  Hopefully at least I will be able to sleep in, or maybe just read a book in bed.  I've been waking early with a mind that is buzzing -- which makes it impossible to go back to sleep and makes it very difficult to just lie in bed and do nothing.  Perhaps a little Diet Coke is in order today.  Today is a short day at the store at least.  I have small images to cut up for crown-making purposes.  Tonight I hope to spend time sewing some crowns.  I'd really like to make some for the store.  It was so much fun to make the first two -- very freeing because the assembly is kind of free form, just picking out assorted collage images and sewing them between the vinyl.  And yes, I did notice that I was avoiding the magnet picture frames.  I'm getting there.  Maybe at least today I can get some of the other things done that I was supposed to do while Sachi was away, such as framing my Capitol snippets.  They've just been sitting in a pile this whole week. 

And ooh... this is a bad discovery.  Ian's pizza is open at 11 every day so I can grab a slice of pizza before my work day begins.  Usually Sundays are a little strange, food-wise.  As I drive in, I stop for a bagel with chive cream cheese at Bagel's Forever, consuming that around 9 am.  But then the store opens and all I do is make little forays into the fridge and nibble, a banana, some "dry crunchies" (our family phrase for crackers, chex mix, etc).  An apple, MAYBE a little protein... but ok, yes, it's not a pretty sight.  Then dinner at my parents, to which I arrive crabby and hungry, again, not a pretty sight.  But now perhaps I can have a slice of Mediterranean pizza with olive tapenade, roasted red peppers and fresh motz cheese...  and a Diet Coke of course.  It used to be that Saturday was my pizza slice day at LL, but we are too busy here on Saturdays and my pizza always got cold.  Oh, this will be a nice way to start my 11th day of work.

kudos... gotta love it

Let's see... this would be my tenth day of working without a day off.  I've  been sitting a little more and not doing as much.  But today was a good day -- nice and busy in the morning, Ann's new tunes and Pamela to keep me company.  She reassures me that the energy and enthusiasm of customers is not in my imagination.  And, this afternoon (just as I was fading and wishing I could lock the door and get an ice cream cone), this email arrives...  so sweet!  It makes me very happy.  Hooray! I am making the world a better place in my own little way.  Thanks to everyone who is happy to be in the store!

>Subject: Love your store!

>Hello Laura,
>I just wanted to write you a quick email to tell you how wonderful I think
>your store is (I was the really excited shaking girl).  I was so excited to
>see all of the wonderful things in your store...I could have spent all day
>in there.  As a college student absorbed in studying and applying to grad
>schools, it was really refreshing to be reminded about how much I enjoy >book/paper arts.  Thank you for the inspiration and I wish you and your  >business the best.

ooohh... packages...

One of many fun things about retail -- it is a little like Christmas any day with the UPS or FedEx guy comes through the door.  Today we got a new book: A Charming Exchange.  Ooohh..  I just love charm bracelets!  And how cool would that be to swap charms among a group of friends!  Because what I really needed was more projects.  The book is filled with great jewelry-making and assemblage ideas -- ouch! my head hurts it's so overwhelmed with ideas.

one bad apple...or maybe two..or three

A quiet day at the store, and I'm still feeling a little tired from the big Maxwell weekend... tired enough that the people passing without stopping and the occasional lackluster response is wearing on me a bit as I near the end of my day.  Plus I read a not so great internet review of someone's visit to our store -- thank goodness for my supportive and consoling friends and their sarcastic comments. 

I'm wondering about the unthinking comments I made about other people's stores & creations and pondering karma.  And thinking about putting positive energy into the world and yet feeling a little tired and whiny.  But I promise that won't be the theme of this post.  On a tangent, last night someone came in and picked out paper for buttons, including "Dalai Rocks," paid and then said he'd be back before I closed in a half an hour.  He didn't come back and I still had to bicycle home and run errands.   I left them in a bag on the door with a note, "Dalai rocks and others, Hope karma gets this to the person who paid for it."  Is that so Midwestern and naive?  Well, he hasn't called to complain so I hope they got to the right person.  I mean, how bad would that be to steal someone else's buttons they made after an amazing weekend with the Dalai Lama?  Now THAT is bad karma.  Surely no one would be so daring to tempt fate that way.

Anyway, where was I?  Whining just a little bit. Presumably people aren't being malicious, but I can hear what they are saying and it puzzles me a little bit.  Well, I know that not everyone will "get" this store, but still.  The low point was Sunday when a customer sighed in disgust when I told her the price of my photo snippets unframed; she just tossed the piece down on the counter which was not where she picked it up from.  But what was that lesson from my former boss?  DON'T TAKE IT PERSONALLY.  Goodness but that's a hard one to follow through on.  We put ourselves in a particularly vulnerable position here -- not just selling things that we picked out, but selling things that we created.  There's a reason I never tried the art fair rounds.  Good thing there's that little notebook to refer to.  Which I highly recommend to everyone.  It reminds me of a professor who once told me that everyone should have a "warm fuzzy" file -- where you put copies of all your letters of recommendations and other pieces of paper that tell you how great you are.  Where is that file?  Well, at least I have my notebook.   So I can just open it up and, voila!  "Congratulations.  This is such a precious place.  It feels happy just being here."  And I took a page from Sachi and recited the whole spiel for someone who was puzzled and trying to categorize us, "is this a scrapbooking store, or what?"  I might have given her the short answer, but I didn't and by the end, she walked around the whole place and told her friend that the store was darling.  So there.  Marvelous world...  Our blog page views for the last three days have exceeded the average, despite that one mediocre review...  And just as I was composing this and resolving not to be so whiny, in comes a very appreciative customer -- just what I needed.  We've had a long conversation and she's given me some good ideas of future craft projects: decoupage boxes (how fun would that be as a holiday project? decorate your own box to give gifts in?) and a scarf decorated with ribbons -- she sewed such scarves at Galleries Lafayette... where, of course, the French are much more accustomed to having a hand in creating their gifts, so she says.  And she told me about a New Yorker cartoon with a husband saying, "I'm glad you're an artist, otherwise I couldn't stand this mess."  Ha ha.  Always nice to have a laugh.  But it's so true.  I had time to clean up the office a bit today but my apartment is a whole 'nother matter.  And what am I doing tonight?  Not cleaning, that's for sure.

And not to keep singing the same song, but I LOVE MY CROWN.  I showed Kathy's to Susie and she was very impressed... and now I get to make one for Susie.  My mind is racing with possibilities... something about crows, or sticks, or found objects, or France...  Hmm.  She made this fabulous shibori tissue paper that I would wear as a dress if I could pull it off.  The color is so amazing.  Anyway, she gave me a piece to include in the crown -- I think I'll use that for the trim instead of tulle.  There some rough color direction provided by that, but still, many directions to go.  I ran across a tiny picture of a woman holding a crow in her hand a few nights ago.  I'll have to find where I put that.  And then maybe one of my pictures of heart rocks from the CA trip.  So many possibilities....  I can't wait to wear my crown and apron, and to see Kathy and Susie wearing theirs.  I would so love a room full of people wearing this crowns.  What a fabulous party that would be.  The workshop is one month away and I've started gathering way more supplies and collage images than one could possibly use in a four-day workshop -- one more pile for the living room.  I am so looking forward to this!  It was a year ago in April that I had my last Valley Ridge workshop so I'm overdue for a creative retreat and recharge.  Of course, I did that to myself and didn't sign up for more (because one a year is about all the stimulation and inspiration I can handle -- I already have more projects than I can handle).  And speaking of, I'd better get to work.  I finally have enough button bracelets made for a few weeks' worth of backstock so I can move onto something else.  Which I will do any minute now.

Monday morning.. for real

"I am delighted that even at my great age ideas come to me, the pursuit of which would require another lifetime." Johann Von Goethe

Ahh... quotations, a great fall back when one hasn't gotten organized enough to take pictures and transfer them to the right computer.  I ought to take some pictures though, considering the rearranging in the store.  I think it is looking nice and full.  Sachi is away on vacation so I am here by my lonesome today, on a Monday which is my usual day off.  After three days of Maxwell, I think I'll take it easy today.  I already miss Lily.  Emily came in and brought more recycled goodies -- mosaic frames, bottlecap necklaces (already sold one this afternoon) and more magnets.  She gave me a really great idea for button bracelets -- each button with a different color Union Terrace chair!  I love it!  Good thing I already planned to go to the Union on Wednesday to take more pictures.  I'd like to make some UW photo snippets but will take lots of terrace chair pics too.  I have a feeling I'll owe Emily dinner for that suggestion -- I think it will be a good seller. 

I have about six projects that I rotate between -- Capitol snippets to frame, D R E A M big and washi paper button bracelets (and then I THINK I can take a little break because I'll have back stock built up in button bracelets), filing catalogs, searching online for software for the antique organizing project (one of many side jobs that I've been doing lately -- setting up mailing databases, cat sitting, studio cleaning -- all things I enjoy so that's good), staring at my crown (oh, does that not count as a project?), enjoying the new music from Ann, assembling envelope journals... I'm sure there's more but I do have the whole week ahead of me.  I am hoping that if I keep saying this, I will make it true:  I really need to make magnet picture frames!  I am in the process of rearranging my living room/studio so there's lots of chaos at home which doesn't lend itself to magnet frame production.  Tonight: bike home, run errands (photocopy and fabric), get my cat sitting directions, sew Kathy's skirt? and that's probably about all I should expect so, no magnet frames tonight.  Sigh.

Did I say I love my crown?  I am so excited about it.  I have to make more.  They are pretty time-consuming but also art-full... so I can't exactly shift into mass production mode, but I will have to have some for the store.  I am finding them quite charming.  I am toying with more of a DIY kit-like set-up, but I'm not ready to let go of adding all the embellishments myself -- for a change it's not a control issue, I'm just having fun.  I still have to finish her fairy skirt but hopefully Kathy will be happy with the results.  I am really looking forward to August when I get to wear my crown and apron!  I might have to wear my crown on my birthday at work as well. 

a long hot day at the button machine

Well, it is only the afternoon of Saturday but I've explained the button-making process several times, often yelling over the band playing nearby (which was an improvement over piccolo man from last week).  The highlight was a group of Chinese boys, who pretty much made buttons and communicated with me through pantomime, and picked kind of funny designs, like lacey paper.. .they were clearly most interested in the machine and the process.  But there was a moment there were all these little hands waving dollar bills at me and speaking in Chinese.  Slightly surreal.