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September 2008
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November 2008

still working on a project unrelated to Anthology...

Well, who's to say what is and isn't related?  It's not magnet picture frames, that's for sure.  The sewn journal pages are coming together really well.  I'm reasonably happy with the collaged cover and yesterday I sewed the pages into the cover.  Pain in the butt!  I don't know how those bookmakers do it.  I'd much rather alter a book.  But there are 6 more of these to go... Sigh.  Darn my enthusiasm for starting new projects. Still, it is really cool and I am very happy with it.  Now all that remains is transferring the text that I wrote on Tuesday (on the computer) into handwritten, rubberstamped and stickered text in the book.  Page by page I'm getting there but it will take a while.  Still, I am so very pleased with the result.  I'd love to make a whole series of imaginary travel guides.  This one, and three others, are for France, but maybe the fairy books will be for fairyland... and how cool would it be to make one with my Japanese pictures?  Because, sure, I've got time for all that.  ha ha ha.

buying locally and reducing our cardboard footprint

Despite the number of cardboard boxes that we (mostly Sachi) flatten and put in the recycle bin, and despite the fact that I only have LL to compare to (which operates at a whole 'nother level), I feel very pleased with how Anthology has minimized what we throw away or even recycle.

By getting stock from local artists, much of what we have in store didn't have to be packaged to survive a long trip from overseas.  Some people even bring things in bags or containers that they take back with them to reuse.  Yesterday's shipment of Martha Stewart holiday craft items, while it brought many exciting items, was a reminder of unpacking days of the past -- one big cardboard box contains several little boxes, which contain groupings of product wrapped in plastic and then individually wrapped in plastic.  Oh, and the air spaces in the big box are filled with packing peanuts/plastic bubble wrap/shredded paper/wadded up paper.  If you've never worked in retail, you might have no idea of the volume of packaging waste but, trust me, it's a lot.  Of course we still have things that arrive in such a manner, but I love that they are balanced out by our local artists.

And then on the outgoing side, we just got another batch of paper handled shopping bags to reuse.  We just attach our store postcard and send people on their way with random store bags.  Well, we use more bags than friends & acquaintances could provide so we had to purchase some.  And of course, I'd prefer to save the money and spend it on product instead of packaging, but it is less a matter of money than it is a matter of the environment.  And I am happy to at least have my closet of bags mostly cleared out.  I know, it's a small thing, but if only big things make you happy then you usually have to wait longer.

nothing like a deadline...

to provide that much-needed kick in the pants.  Susie asked me today if she could bring my sewn journal to Milwaukee as part of a class she is teaching in mid November.  Sure, no problem, just let me actually SEW the pages...  At least I got started with the gesso for the covers.  I think now it is time to focus a little more on each individual book.  The mass production approach works to a point, but now I need to make sure I don't go too far on the sewing/collaging/rubber stamping/embellishing of each page.  And also, there's no way that I will be able to get any completed by mid November at this rate -- sewing a little here on one, stamping a little there on another.  So, from 7 journals to 1...  there, that looks much more manageable.  I've spent the morning sewing the cover and will spend the afternoon seeing if I can finish the pages... really looking at the order of the pages and how the book flows as a whole, and trying to figure out if there's anything in the way of text that is needed.  I still can't decide how anyone would use this book -- would anyone actually write on the pages if I left some blank spaces, or would no one else write on these pages so I should just go ahead and fill them up?

It's a perfect day to spend in the studio -- cold and blustery outside...  good motivation for ironing just to stay warm.  I do have headbands and knitter's pockets and aprons up there as well.  We'll just see how far I get.  I get two days off this week - Mom is working at the store for me tomorrow... well, working, or chasing after Lily, we'll see what really happens.  But it is nice to have this big chunk of time to work in the studio on fabric things.  After the long day of rearranging the store yesterday, a break is nice.

busy windy day

Well, I woke early this morning, anxious to finish rearranging the fixtures in the store.  We brought them from Jen's store yesterday --  I feel like a vulture but I promise to give them a good home.  I wasn't sure exactly where everything would go so there was a bit of shoving to do this morning to get everything into place.  I think I got downtown around 8 a.m. -- which meant I got my favorite parking spot.  Though it was a cold and blustery day, there were a lot of people out.  Everyone seems really drawn to Sachi's window with the assortment of onesies.  We sold a lot on Saturday -- the typewriter text was very popular, and the British flashcards are doing well too.  Almost every 15 minutes this morning someone was peering in the window hopefully or pulling at the door.  Sorry, but we don't open 'til noon and I really had to work to get things presentable by then. 

In all though, I think the new additions work well.  It didn't occur to me to take pictures -- I was really just rushing around trying to get things in place.  I'll add to the album later this week.  I didn't think I was so sentimental, but it makes me really happy to have the Thymes cabinet (held Thymes products at the LL of 214 State, stayed there for Epoch).  Just a little bit of my old life at LL....  The vanity is a bright coral orange with a huge round mirror and it adds a great spark of color along the blue wall.  Like the vintage doors, it's a little piece of Jen in our store which makes me happy.  She has such a great sense of style.  I feel sad for her that this venture didn't work out, but I am enough of an optimist to believe that everything happens for a reason and that even better things are in store for her.  Now that Thanksgiving is just around the corner, I am reminded that it will be the one-year anniversary of my decision to begin this adventure.  A year ago today life was very difficult and stressful, I was questioning what path I was on, what I was going to do for the rest of my life, how I would make the world a better place... blah blah blah -- how much changes in year!

My brother-in-law (he did most of the work) and my dad came last night to help move the furniture.  Even my dad commented that the vanity was nice and bright.  The traffic pattern is slightly altered so we'll have to see if that will work.  I cut off one route to the cash register and several times today I had to turnabout and approach a different way.  I'm not sure about feng shui and mirrors -- there's something good or bad about them, though if today is any indication, the placement of the mirror is fine.  And I'll have to get some more lights.  But having extra counter space was really convenient for packing of purchases.  I'm getting a little nervous about the holidays -- I feel like I've gotten out of practice from the height of busyness at Little Luxuries.  There's a certain rhythm and pacing necessary to help lots of customers, to package things efficiently, etc.  On Saturday we had a couple moments of real busyness that were a bit of a stretch for Sachi and I.  At least when people have to wait it's still not nearly as long as waiting in line at the grocery store, and there are more interesting things to look at than gossip magazines.  I know, it is not a bad problem to have...  Still, I'll definitely have to clear our space behind the register for packaging and Sachi and I will have to choreograph our movements a little.

Downtown is so lively.  It's great.  This weekend there have been several performances at the Overture Center and at the Orpheum.  Atlas did a fabulous job as the red knight in Through the Looking Glass.  People were coming into the store after the matinee and before the evening performances.  And there was Farmer's Market as usual and homecoming weekend as well.  Sometimes that means other people don't come downtown because they want to avoid the crowds, but Saturday was a good day.  We also got deliveries from several consignees recently -- Emily, Andrea, Naomi, Lisa, Dee, and Dainty Daisies.  Rebecca's altered vintage sweaters have generated lots of interest as well.  There are a few more on the way which is always fun.  It seems like the store has quite a lot to offer.  We've already sold some of the craft books I got from the new publishers so that makes me happy.  Instant gratification is a good thing.  I'm excited about the new things and happy that our consignees are preparing for Christmas since I sure am not.  I have no idea about any ornaments to make and will be pretty busy just keeping up with magnet picture frames.  I'll have to see if anything comes to mind but so far it's all a blank.  No, no, don't give me any ideas.  I have more to do than I have time for as it is but thanks for thinking of me.

new book works

Mom and her writing group are coming in next Friday for a craft table activity.  They are going to make comb-bound notebooks in the 8x11 size.  We haven't quite figured out all the details (whether they will share paper between themselves or just bring in their own paper) but I made up a sample last night. 

Interesting things are happening in the world of books.  It's a simple little thing, but Nancy brought in a book for show n' tell -- how about not making all the pages the same size? Hmm.  Similar work is being done by many, including DJ Pettit -- all sorts of interesting sizes and shapes of pages, not even the same type of paper from one page to the next.  Also, inspired by ex libris anonymous, making journals with old book pages interspersed with journal paper.  Anyway, the sample book that I made for my mom includes pieces of plain white paper for writing or drawing, but also pages from books, scrapbook paper, etc.  Because of my altered book works, I am generating a lot of ripped out book pages so it will be nice to have another purpose for them.  And of course, I just have a huge collection of papers. 

The other motivation is that I've always had trouble with blank journal pages.  They are always intriguing to me, so full of possibility, but ultimately paralyzing because I don't know where to begin.  I am having much more luck lately starting with a page that has some pattern, or a little bit of text to get me started on my journaling. 

SO, those envelope journals that I had to make more of?  I think they are going to morph into this new form of book.  I am calling them scrap books.  Get it?  Scraps of paper, book pages, maps, quotations from my collection, all bound together.  I think it will be fun.. at least one new project for the store in time for the holidays.

handmade kids at Anthology

Windows_002 Sachi's latest window is getting a lot of attention as people pass by.  It is filled with cute kids' items from many local artists: typewriter text tees and onesies from Maureen in Madison, storybook bracelets and frames from Naomi in Madison, sock monsters from Emily in Madison, embroidered onesies from Sachi, sock monkey kits and cards from Dee in Hayward.  We also have onesies -- with appliqued ties and fun British flashcard images, sweet baby brag books, bibs... and doesn't everyone need a plushy croissant or baguette?

As I peruse the blogs of various crafters it is striking how many are women in their late 20s and 30s.  If the number of onesies, baby bibs & shoes & hats are any indication, many are juggling being a mom with the desire to create fun and wondergul things.  They are creating a world and a work for themselves that gives them some flexibility as well as creativity and I think it is pretty great.  As only an auntie, I have to say a huge hats off to all those crafty moms.  I have no idea how anything gets done in this world!  Some days it is all I can do to chase after the girl on the run (that's right, she's walking now).  Art supplies and babies are a challenging mix.

Anthology in print!!!

Windows_001 This just in!  The November issue of Madison Magazine featuring Anthology!

Thanks to Madison Magazine Style Editor Shayna Miller.  She has the Window Shopping blog and we first met her in our work at Little Luxuries.  She covers the Madison shopping scene and we've talked to her occasionally about the store, including when we first opened.  We were really excited to be contacted for this article and to be able to share the Anthology story.

In this time of economic uncertainty and worries about politics and war and too many other things to list in one little post, it is our great pleasure to generate energy towards all that we love in the world.  Celebrating the beauty of nature through art, inspiring creativity in others, sharing our own creative endeavors... it truly is a dream come true.

(getting to spend time almost every day with Lily is also a dream come true - by now you probably know that she is my sister Sachi's daughter and I am (just) the overly proud auntie -- there was a small error in the article that mixed up which of us was which).

some thought might be required

So I actually got back to working on the covers for my sewn journal pages last night.  The canvas needs a layer of gesso before I do some collaging.  The work was very simple but it was fun to be working on something besides magnet picture frames.  After spending time cleaning two other studios this week, I was jealous of all the projects being worked on.  Not to mention reminded of how cool the sewn journals are after seeing some finished results.  So I treated myself last night.  Well, the gesso layer isn't that interesting, but it's a necessary step before doing some more collaging, which is what I really enjoy.  I'm hoping tonight to sew the pieces of covers together so that I can begin with the collaging.  It will be nice to have a finished product to have at the store, even though I don't really expect to sell these -- the amount of time that goes into them is prohibitive (my general formula for figuring out a price of an item is $10/hour for labor, plus cost of supplies --  certain things very quickly exceed a price that someone would actually pay for them).  Maybe someday I will come up with a smaller version that will work for the store.  But first I should finish these.  I have no idea what the next Bone Folders' exhibit will be, but I think this will be a good project for such purposes.

Looking at the first three books I made, I can tell they need some more work.  I'm not sure what exactly.  More sewing on the pages?  Different content?  Some rubber stamping?  They aren't as good as the next batch of four that I started.  And then there's the whole matter of text.  I'm not really sure that someone would use this as a journal.  Maybe I should write some text? a story? and otherwise fill up the pages some more.  There's always that problem I have of going one step too far -- never realizing when to stop until after it is too late.  Up to this point, I've been working mostly assembly-line fashion on all of the journals at once but I think I'm going to have to spend some time with each book and figure out what more is needed. without going too far.  Of course, when that time will be is another matter.  I had visions of working on them at the store but I don't think that will happen until January or so.  I brought them home so they might be my nighttime treat for a few weeks here.


I can't help it.  I'm so addicted to checking the stats for this blog.  I check several times more than is healthy in a day.  That's our number of individual page views so far.  Hooray!  Thanks for reading!

revisiting the list

button bracelets
groovy buttons
envelope journals
knitter's pockets
magnet picture frames
French photo snippets

Not THE list, just the short one from a few weeks ago.  Drat...  there's more there than I remembered.  I did some more sewing tonight and yesterday so I am making progress on headbands (which weren't even on the list) and knitter's pockets.  Oh, and finished another apron too.  Also not on the list.  Ah, I see the trouble.  Who can stick to a list anyway?  The good thing about working on so many things at once is that after a long time of no apparent progress, all of a sudden, things are getting done.  The aprons are a prime example.  I think I had about 16 of them that I started at the same time.  So it has been a long time of gathering, ruffling, hemming....  and now, finally, they are reaching completion.  Why is it so much more fun to start new projects than finish old ones?

This week promises to be just as busy as last week.  I have something almost every night of the week.  I'm looking forward to seeing Atlas in Through the Looking Glass, the play at the Overture Center.  Pamela is back in town so we'll have dinner... and I've officially started the countdown to the new James Bond movie, even though it's still about a month away.  Not as much as Viggo, but I do (heart) Daniel Craig.

I really need to get going on magnet picture frames.  I have this idea that if I keep writing it down here, I will make it come true.  I'm sure if I spent as much time working on them as I did writing about them, they'd all be done by now.  The glue step is next which isn't so fun... clearly there's a little procrastination going on.  It would also be good to finish the French photo snippets that have been sitting on the back table at the store.  At least customers are enjoying the sneak peek into unfinished projects and are getting inspiration to make their own photo snippets.  Sachi tells me our upstairs neighbor went a little crazy with the square punch and is cutting up lots of pics.  I love it!  I'm so glad we got the Fiskars punch in, even if it was a little late.  We'll have to be better stocked next time we start a project with a special tool.

We've had an assortment of inquiries for craft parties so there are various supplies to gather and planning to be done.  What I really need to do is clean the office!  It's a disaster.  There are all sorts of pieces of projects, good intentions, etc. etc.  I think maybe that will be tomorrow's chore in the morning.  Our accountant said she'd stop by to pick up some paperwork sometime and it would be really nice if it wasn't such a mess back there.  In the meantime, the big project today was rearranging the store again.  Sachi was eager to install the next window, though I was able to get her to wait until after lunch.  She gets all wrapped up in the project and then I find myself grumpy at 2 pm, waiting for a lunch break.  The window went together very quickly.  It has been really nice to just have one window that we can take turns installing.  The two windows at Little Luxuries were quite a bigger project.  Anyway, as Sachi installed the window, she created holes and piles of merchandise out on the sales floor.  I'm also starting to think about the fixtures that will be arriving shortly so I started shifting things around.  I think we can squeeze it all in, but we'll have to put a piece of furniture in the window from now on.  There's no other room.  But it is good that we don't have basement space because then I'd just have to clean that out as well as the office.  Though the back table is still heaped with merchandise that needs a home, it's gradually coming together.

Sachi and I are trying to lecture ourselves about not getting out of control on our January buying trip.  I'm so excited!  I can't wait to see what there is, find some new products for the store, learn about new creative endeavors... maybe get some ideas for creations to sell.  My brother-in-law says we have to find the next button machine.  Not an actual button machine, just the next project that will be as well-received.  Hmmm.... what could it be?