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February 2009
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April 2009

a rainy day

but filled with lots of promise.  We got some boxes right away from FedEx and UPS so there are things to unpack, new projects to assemble, products to move around and display.  We got issue #2 of Where Women Create from Somerset.  I HOPE they will just end up making more books out of these (because my sister is going to be mad at me -- I told her she could wait to buy issue #1 and now it is sold out.  Don't worry, I will find her a copy... and feel like Scarlett at Tara when I do so.  There were several artists that we love in issue #1.... I know, I know, but I WILL find a copy!).  It's so fun to see people's studios, though sometimes I wish the people were more ordinary artists.  There's too much envy involved in seeing someone's studios with their printer's drawers and other fixtures that I wish for but can't afford.  But envy is not a pretty thing so I'll try not to dwell on that, or the fact that these artists have gained national recognition for their creations and their spaces....

I DID get to spend lots of time in my studio the last few days and have gotten far ahead on the list.  I hired someone to come and help me with sewing and I am feeling so much better about the list and what needs to be done.  It helped so much.  I might have been glowing on Sunday, I was so happy and relieved.  Of course, it might have been a fine thing to hire someone to clean my apartment, but I will see a return on this investment much more quickly - the more I can make for the store, the more I can sell.  It's always hard to know what the ceiling is on sales, but so far there is still that feeling that we would sell more of everyone's creations if only there were more in the store.  No pressure or anything.  Hurry hurry Laura, sew sew sew.  I have a dozen artist and knitter's pockets well on their way, and a dozen more that are much further along than I thought they would be this time last week.  Plus the start of crayon pockets and more aprons, oh, and some crowns.  I even got some filing done this morning.  Sachi will be happy.  I'm horrible at just creating "file piles" which are a little cumbersome.  Though still, if you ask me where something is, I have some ideas so it's not total chaos.  I even spent a little time last night at my apartment cleaning up some of the clutter.

This week is only one studio-cleaning session.  We have our Bone Folders' Guild meeting so there is show and tell to gather.  And the film festival starts this week!  I'm pretty excited for that.  There are so many great films to watch.  I have to exercise some restraint.  One time we watched three movies in a row.  That was too much.  I'm watching 5 movies in 4 days, including Handmade Nation.  Hooray!  Sachi and I are both looking forward to that.  I did get some more 2x2 photos taken for the blurb book but need to work on that some more.  Maybe tonight.  I do have to do more of the CD cataloging though; tomorrow morning is the plan though I should be going there two days a week.  I got my tax bill which was not as bad as I thought.  It's manageable, but I still need to work hard this month.  And yes, I'll start estimated tax payments this year so you don't have to hear about all of this again next year. 

On the whole, I THINK I can get caught up a bit this week. ... but I say that often and then find myself surprised that it's Friday.

a surprisingly busy day

Facebook 014 The weather man said a big storm was on the way, and the first hour was very quiet so we got out our projects and prepared to work.  I'm kind of addicted to these altered shirts - black & white or navy & white stripes are my favorite.  Sachi meanwhile cannot keep up with the embroidered onesies so she worked on those.  But then the customers kept coming in.  I figured everyone would be staying home, or just going to the grocery to stock up for the big storm, but it has been a steady day.  Well, not steady, people come in waves, but just when we start a project, more come in.  So, a nice surprise for the day.  The snow is just starting.

Tomorrow my mom is working for me.  I have to figure out my children's message for church in the morning, but then I am meeting Alison at the sewing studio (weather permitting).  I am REALLY happy about this new plan that I have; getting someone to help with the sewing has made me very happy.  Now I have big plans to add to the list of things to do.  It will at least be nice to get some knitter's pockets restocked soon.

A pair of women were quite thrilled to find ReMent. They specifically wanted the cupcakes.  First they were listing the ones they didn't want and inside I was thinking, oh now you'll get those.  But then they altered their approach... ending in a prolonged chant: "cup cake cup cake cup cake".... which paid off.  They got TWO boxes of cupcakes in a row (for those who have no idea what I am talking about, ReMent is little boxes of tiny plastic food; each box will hold one of several options, but there's no way to figure out exactly which one you will get).  They were very happy so that was fun (and balanced out the shoplifting we discovered only after the items went missing - bummer!). 

I feel like the store needs a good dusting and rearranging.  Perhaps next week I will catch my breath enough to work on that. Sachi already installed the next window and we are looking forward to the film festival.  Then after that, she has plans for a cute Easter window including sock monsters and sock monkeys!  A little Anthology twist on the Easter bunny.  Of course, we have Lisa's fun felted bunnies, and eggs, and Emily's crocheted bowls.  Should be a nice springy window. 

it's not a sweatshop

I PROMISE.  But last night, I was near tears while upstairs in the sewing studio, looking around at all the sewing that had to be done.  To be fair, it had been a rather long day - the night before I was sewing until about 11 pm; then working all day, having popcorn for dinner, attending a church meeting, and the going straight back upstairs to the sewing room and sewing until 10:30.  The popcorn for dinner is probably the biggest culprit of my feelings, but I think spending a little money for a little help is worth it for my sanity. 

I'm almost out of knitter's pockets and am low on artist pockets.  The artist pockets were a hit with the touring Broadway company, who used them for make-up brushes.  And I wanted to make some little crayon pockets as well.  Except the last batch of artist pockets was made from already sewn strips and now I have to start back at square one.  That was teary moment.  Well, it's my own fault, because I don't just gather the fabric for one knitter's pocket, I gather the fabric for a dozen, and then I wonder why I feel overwhelmed.  But it's more efficient, and quite satisfying when you suddenly finish up a dozen.  And, oh yeah, there are aprons to be made as well.  Not to mention I really need some time to figure out my terrace chair baby onesie idea. 

There are many things that have sold in one year that took me years to make  -  looks like I have to speed up the restock process.  And as efficient as I am trying to be, I think this might be beyond one person's ability.  I think it will be worth it to hire some help and keep my head slightly higher above water. This week has been kind of crazy with two baby quilts to finish up, and all those other sewing projects waiting in line. 

Basically, if you can imagine this, most of my quilts, aprons and headbands take strips of fabric that are 5" x 20" long.  Out of a third of a yard, I get four of these strips, plus two little strips that are about 2" x 20."  It's hard to convey the MASS of fabric, but there have been a lot of quilts over the years, and a lot of headbands.  The banister upstairs is piled high with strips of fabric.  There is a huge pile of batik strips of varying widths which ultimately need to be sewn to form a square 20" x 20" in order for me to make knitter's pockets.  Ditto for the headband fabric, which gets made into artist pockets.  Forget I mentioned the crayon pockets.  I'll get to those eventually, but not soon.  There are some design issues that I have to work out.

Anyway, I did some thinking about it and contacted some of my sewing friends - and they are up for it!  Hooray.  I have to go to the studio and get organized so that someone else can sew, but, seriously, this is a good thing.

a VERY busy Saturday

Phew!  That was quite a day.  We had a birthday party in the morning and a card-making party in the afternoon.  And a party to attend after work.  It was a lovely spring day, for Wisconsin, and lots of people were out enjoying the sunshine.  Pictures speak louder than words, right?  Here are all the products from the two parties.
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altered shirts and a skirt

Blog 070 Ahh.. a perfect way to rejuvenate the wardrobe without spending lots of money!  I've been enjoying my first altered shirt and made these for the store.  A very productive Sunday all in all.  My wrist hurts a little bit from the stitching and I need to learn to use a thimble, but other than that...

Now I have to find more of my own shirts to alter.   I'm going to make some of the fabric circles into sets of patches for people to buy and iron onto their own shirts.  Just as soon as I get back to the studio to get more fabric pieces.

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DSC05551Ok, that was really only one day of really warm weather.  Still, the sun is shining, people are definitely emerging.  This weekend is WIAA boys basketball... historically a weekend of a freak snowstorm.  But perhaps we'll avoid it this year?  For our part, we are doing what we can to bring spring to Wisconsin.  The decorated candleholders were a fun way to use the paper flowers that we brought back from the CHA.  This weekend we have two parties scheduled for Saturday.  The Easter eggs are in so they can be decorated.  They look nice with twinkling watercolors, and paper flowers too.  You can paint on the paper flowers and add more detail.  Here are the two girls from last weekend.  So fun to see them working on a project at the table.  Sachi made one that was completely covered with butterfly cut-outs.  Oh, and I should make one using little scraps of fabric!  My nest necklace sold already so I made another one last night.  I have really been enjoying the jewelry-making.  A few people have come in to stamp out text.  It's a fun project.

The store is nice and full.  And the flowers and balloons from our birthday weekend are adding a nice touch of color.  A special shout-out to Jen, Ann, Bev & Denis and Mom for the flowers; and to Dad for the cookies.

I'm working on the Facebook-making project.  I made things for two people and am now on the third.  I'm making a mini altered book just using assorted scraps of paper.  I think the text I add will be words from random envelopes and ads and books.  AND it's a small book so I can also photograph it for the blurb book that I am working on for the book arts group that I belong to.  I still have to make up my mind what to make for Hollis and Anne and Andrea... though Andrea's has to have something cupcake related, I think.  I rearranged the store a bit yesterday and added more pictures to our albums.  I've been really behind on that.  The problem is that the store doesn't read very well in pictures -- it's all just a jumble.  What am I saying?  It's really better in person so we hope you've stopped in recently.  It's amazing to look back at the pictures from a year ago -- we've definitely added a lot.

I did a little sewing this week but kind of skipped around from project to project so I didn't get far on anything.  I got carried away picking out fabrics for more pennants.  Headbands are progressing though so I should have a new batch of those soon.  Oh, and the altered shirts are going to be cool!  I'm making an altered skirt for Sachi and I have to make up my mind what fabric to use.  There are so many choices!  Several people have asked about books about altering clothing.  We have one but I went to Borders last night to see what else is out there.  It's tricky.  I didn't really find what I wanted.  I'll have to keep looking.  But that duoble-sided iron-on is a fabulous invention.  You can just pick any fabric you want and make a patch to iron on to a piece of clothing.  I was going to make some patches for the store so people can do what they want.  Add that to the list.  Oh, and I'm happy because I got someone else to start a blurb book.  It's such a fun project.


catching my breath

It's like summer!  The Orpheum has its tables out, the street musicians are otu in full force; there's a feeling of liveliness.  The weather has been fabulous and all of us Wisconsinites emerge blinking from our little caves.  The mood was positively jubilant over the weekend.  We had a slow week before, which I did need for catching up... It's so tricky - even one slow day and its hard not to worry about the economy, your life choices, etc.  Luckily Sachi and I seem to take turns worrying so the other one can be calm and reassuring.  The wonderful days (of weather and sales) have helped set a more sunny tone.

And I think things have stopped spinning.  Well, they've slowed down a bit.  Saturday was like this: get balloons, pick up dad, get air in the car tires, drop off the balloons at the store, attend funeral, go to work.  But the day ended so nicely with our birthday celebration (with plenty of cake).  It was such a treat that people came out or sent their good wishes.

Sunday after our birthday celebrations... that was a rough day.  It didn't help that someone called my quilts (their prices) "steep" and wondered if we needed another person to make quilts because she would make quilts for THAT price.  I tried to explain that half the price goes to paying our rent but I shouldn't have even tried.  Just smile and nod, Laura.  It's too bad I'm not a drinker because I wonder if Sundays would be nicer if I had a cocktail before work, maybe just a 'sconnie mosa (champagne, sparkling Door County cranberry wine and OJ) with brunch?  Sundays are generally quiet days but filled with people wandering around, coming into the store but not even really LOOKING.  Not quiet enough to work on a project or warrant being closed, not busy enough to keep my energy up on the sixth day of working.  We had a nice dinner at Samba with its impressive salad bar and array of meats.  You'd think I'd know this by now, but I think I am a flank steak kind of girl.  Is that gauche?

And, oh, there's a fun project on Facebook.  Ok, so you offer to make something for the first five people who sign up.  In return, those five people have to offer to make something for five people.  It doesn't necessarily end up being a one-for-one exchange (I missed out on Jennifer White's offer) but now I have people to make things for, which is always fun.  Somehow it is always easier when you have someone in mind.  So, in addition to getting the second baby quilt to the machine quilter, finishing up my taxes, making button bracelets & flower necklaces & Vintaj brass necklaces, etc. etc.  I made a pendant for Emily and a beaded necklace for Pamela.  Now I have to think of something to make for Anne, Hollis, Susie and Andrea.  That's right, that's 6 people.  I have a hard time saying no.  You can make whatever you want to make and there's no guarentee that the recipient will like it.  It can be a CD, a collage, a cupcake (I added that last one).  Isn't it fun?  I love the idea of people participating in a creative relay.  Hmm... what should I make?  Somehow it seems like cheating to select from my available options -- should be something NEW. 

I'm debating about whether to organize CDs tomorrow morning.  I really ought to because I have to earn money for the tax bill.  Tonight I hope to keep the momentum going and do some sewing.  I have an idea for some new onesies and I have altered shirts and skirts to make, headbands, oh and some more fabric pennants for the store... which Emily calls, what?  bunting?  I've heard the word before but in a completely different context (from my birdwatcher mom).  Anyway, they have been fun to hang in the store window and I think they will be nice to have for sale for the summer.  Also I think I need to make one for someone's birthday that is coming up soon.  I got a bunch of striped shirts from Saver's and am anxious to make some fabric cut outs to add to them.  And, oh, I was thinking about making some fabric patches just to sell in the store in packets -- then people could alter their own clothes.  Play play play.  The pile of scraps is rather out of control so I should really spend some time cleaning upstairs but I think I deserve to play tonight.

I was supposed to help my mom paint but she had someone else help with the edges.  I was over there last night painting this lovely shade of raspberry.  And I know Jen doesn't want to read this but it makes me feel like painting my apartment.  I don't have many unpainted walls though.  Still, I was thinking maybe I could add another color to my bedroom or living room - leave three walls as they are and just paint one?  Ah well.  Probably not any time soon.  Still, that raspberry color was so delicious. 

What else?  We are not at all Irish that I know of, but my dad invited me over for corned beef and cabbage tonight for dinner.  An old high school friend is in town so she's coming over for dinner tomorrow night (which meant cleaning last night).  I was very productive on Monday and managed to take lots of little book pictures for the latest blurb project, as well as working on taxes and painting and sewing headbands.  I do have to do a batch of epoxy necklaces.  I printed and cut the pictures this morning and "just" have to do the epoxy now.  And take some pictures for you.  There are lots of new things in the store.  I've done some rearranging but probably should do some more, and dusting too.  Emily brought in a huge batch of map necklaces so that is fun.  I can't make up my mind about which place I want.  Two girls had lots of fun decorating eggs on the weekend.  I just love seeing people working on projects at the table.  Peter took a commemorative photo of our store for a birthday present and took an inventory of pictures so we should be getting some more soon.  Many of our artists brought in new items just before (or after) this weekend so the store is full of goodies. Oh, and Lisa brought some great felted bunnies and eggs for Easter.  They are very colorful and fun.

does it feel like a rollercoaster?

I remember in college studying about different schools of zen thought.  One holds that you should aim for a calm and even-keel, the other holds that you cannot experience the highs if you don't experience the lows.  I'm simplifying of course.  But it sounds so much more peaceful to live the first way, doesn't it?  I'm sure there was a college paper that I wrote on that premise.  And yet...  I wonder how this blog reads to someone who isn't me.  Life sometimes feels very much like a rollercoaster. But everyone has their slow/boring/tired/stressed days, right?  Thankfully this isn't one of them.  I decided last night that "overwrought" best describes my average mood of late.  That, and tired.  But I am hearing from lots of people that the month has been difficult, and much of my feeling is just vicarious (big car repairs, two people with lung cancer, one lost a father, one had three stints put in... I could go on) so I can't really complain.  My anxieties, will there be enough cake? too much cake?  what will my tax bill be? will I meet that deadline?  will the pictures turn out all right?.. they are all petty in comparison.

It's sunny but cold and it's that yucky time of year when it isn't even cold and pretty with snow, it's just all grey and muddy and will be that way for another 6 weeks.  Did I say that I was in a better mood today?  I am, honest.  Last night I was reading Isthmus and read about the Afro Cuban All Stars and decided a treat was in order.  So, tonight, a night out, maybe a little dancing.  It's a good thing.  I do have to do a batch of epoxy necklaces, blurb book design and photography, maybe some button bracelets today, as well as plastic flower and Vintaj jewelry.  The jewelry projects have definitely been a fun part of the week.  The store is cleaned (except for the office) and ready for the party; I've run most of the errands and just have to get balloons tomorrow morning.  I finished the top of another quilt so I'm just waiting for two quilts to be machine-quilted so I can finish up those commissions.  I even vacuumed the apartment!  Now to put away the laundry.  And yes, taxes are almost done too.  And I will be able to wrap up the CD cataloging in time to pay my tax bill so that's all good.  I've been having lots of fun at night with projects even though I pay for it with groggy mornings.

So, it's Friday.  Two more days of work ahead of me but I get a nice relaxing Sunday morning by myself (the last three have not been), a birthday party on Saturday, a feast at Samba on Sunday night, and good music tonight.  Happy weekend!

another late night

Bird neck 002 Hmm... still adjusting to this time change. I love that it is still light out when we close the store at 7.  But mornings have been really rough.  This week I've been staying up late working on various necklace.  I do so love Vintaj brass!  Here's the necklace that I made last night.  There are three stamped metal pieces that say "some day" "into blue skies" "fly away."  Plus one of the lovely little ceramic bird beads that we have.  I copied the nest, imperfectly from a friend who took a class.  It's pretty clever - you just string the pearls on as part of the nest wire.  The new piece from Vintaj is a branch which I really wanted to use.  It was a bit of a challenge but I really like the finished look.  Normally I'm a silver girl, but the look of this brass is unique and very appealing to me.Bird neck 003 Bird neck 001