Previous month:
August 2009
Next month:
October 2009

a night out and a chance to catch my breath


This was the sight that greeted me last night, arriving out in Spring Green to see a play at American Player's Theater.  The night was interrupted by a brief but intense storm (including hail -- thank goodness for their new shelters) but ended with stars and moonlight.  It was a lovely way to pause and savor the moment, which doesn't happen too often since my head is usually bent over the sewing/button machine...

And honestly.  It's almost October already?!  I'm not at all prepared and I've been really bad about blogging.  I used to read that in other people's blogs and think, "what's the big deal? just sit down and tell me what you've been up to."  ha ha ha.

September, although it has passed quickly, has been a little bit of a break in the mad rush.  Things were a little quieter at the store (same as last year) - people are going back to school, preparing for the changing seasons...  We have already exceeded the annual sales from 2009 so that feels great.  I've managed to catch up just a tiny tiny bit, although the list of things to make to restock the store is still quite long.  Well, at least I don't feel quite so frazzled as I did in August.  Which is good because there is a lot ahead of us. 

The Craftacular is the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  We are co-hosting the event so right now there's lots of paperwork and planning to be done.  Not to mention making stuff for our own booth.  We will have over 60 artists there and it promises to be a fun event.  Already a lot of our customers are marking their calendars.  It's exciting to be a part of a local & craft holiday event.


And even though it seems early, it is time to start thinking about the holidays.  But first I have to decide about a Halloween costume.  Who am I kidding, I always dress up as a fairy.  But I don't know if I should make something else for the adorable girl.  Speaking of, I have been working on her Blurb book for year two, reviewing the pictures and thinking about how much she's grown.  It's all good, but poignant too.  Here she is this morning in my parents' backyard.  I love hoodies with ears.

And, oh yeah, my parents are moving.  Only a few miles away but it means packing, making room for art supplies and furniture at my home...  I need to take pictures of the old house for a book project that I have in mind.  I need to clear room in my livingroom and make new cushions for the couch.  Brown zig-zag does NOT go with lime green and red flowers!  But I have been making progress and I feel like maybe it will only be a year before people can come over to my place, instead of two years that I initially thought.  There's still a lot going on; which will always be the case since the living room is also a studio.



We have had some craftivities going on at the store.  Last weekend we hosted a birthday party for a group of girls to make the mini coil-bound notebooks/journals. 


The craftivity for the month is the decoupage paper bracelet.  Because of the curved surface, the paper has to be cut into thin strips but it is fun to see the different colors that people come up with.

And a few of our other favorite things? 



New headbands from Oshkosh and from Chicago, German paper scraps, new cards from Appleton and Milwaukee, mosaic picture frames from Illinois.  The store is chock full right now as we gear up for Christmas and also unpack new arrivals that we found at Renegade in Chicago. 


a new window

Window 006

Well it was a busy Saturday in the morning, with Farmer's market, relatives visiting and much more.  Things got quieter in the afternoon and for some strange reason I was feeling energetic so I started installing a new window.  I was going to change them on Tuesday.  We got a new shipment of the silk ribbons, which I love a lot, so I wanted to put those in the window.  In all, I was trying for a more pretty/elegant look than the usual playful/colorful look.  We're featuring all sorts of lovelies: Dainty Daisies hand dyed slips and flowery headbands, vintage and reproduction millinery flowers, German paper scraps, journals, notecards, charms and pendants for jewelry-making including from Vintaj and Persimmons.  So much fun!

Window 007

Window 005

Window 004

Window 009

Renegade Chicago was lots of fun

SO, yes, we left Mom to tend the store on Ironman Sunday.  Things were pretty busy and in hindsight, I should have called in Pamela.  But the few mistakes that we had to fix on Monday were a small price to pay for a day in Chicago.  And what a day.  The weather was almost perfect (though a little on the hot and sunny side for me -- no sunburn but a little heatstroke I think.  I should have had more to drink).  Renegade Handmade had over 300 booths set up in the middle of Division Street.  It was pretty amazing.  Fun, inspiring...  We found some new artists for the store, did a little personal shopping (I got a new necklaces with an acrylic seahorse on it - I don't know how everyone is doing these detailed acrylic pieces but they are super fun).  Sachi is the social one of the two of us so she made sure to stop and chat with many artists who we already carry in the store.  It was fun to see Emily and Andrea.  Now that Emily lives out of town, this was a good opportunity to meet up and get some of her creations for the store.  Maybe next year I will be more organized and try to place some orders for pick-up during Renegade.  As it is, we were reminded of some orders that we need to place.  I loved seeing all the different paper products; that's definitely one of my favorite categories.  Everyone has fun different alphabet prints that make me dream about an alphabet window someday.  I get a little overwhelmed with silk-screen shirts.  I love the idea, but I've yet to see a design that tips me over the edge into purchasing.  But there were a lot to look at and I think my eyes were glazing over a little bit at the end.  It was fun though to spend the day with my sister.  We stopped at Mitsuwa on the way home and stocked up on Japanese groceries.  My dad was especially pleased about the baked goods that we brought home from the Hippo Bakery -- Hippo!  That name makes me laugh.  What does it mean? If you eat these baked goods, you'll look like a Hippo?

a case for connection

OR, another reason why I love Facebook.  Seriously.  I know, I know, it's silly, but here's the story. 

Our parents are in the process of selling the house they've been living in since... hmm.... 1980?  I think I was in 5th grade.  They are wanting to move to a single-story house and down-size a bit.  I certainly don't want a house and wasn't feeling that emotional about the whole thing until a couple weeks ago.  I was at their house with Lily while the realtor was walking around measuring and assessing and I was starting to feel like a two-year old (apparently when I was around that age, when meeting a new neighbor, I hauled out all my toys, put them in the baby buggy and threw my body across the buggy.  "MINE!").  All of a sudden, it was all rather bittersweet, thoughts of no longer playing with Lily in the yard, not being in that place.  I know, I know, in the grand scheme of things, this is NOTHING.  My parents are not moving far away, everyone is still alive.  Nonetheless, combined with the list of things to do to prepare for the holidays here at the store,  the tiredness resulting from an amazingly busy summer at the store, having to pack and make room for stuff and studio at my house and leaving my childhood home - it was all leaving me feeling a little fragile.  And then, so fast, I've barely had time to catch my breath, an offer was made and accepted (on the house my parents want) and offer/counter offers were made and accepted (on my childhood house).  And just like that, it's done.  Another month maybe and that will be that. 

Ok, that was a long story, but there was a point. Mom came today and told me that they accepted the counter-offer and I was feeling a little teary.  Not that I have anything to do with it at all, but of course I don't think the buyer is the right fit for the house, I think the price was too low.... did I think I was ready to let go of this house?  Too late.  Anyway, I mentioned as such on Facebook and a Facebook friend (let's see, I think she was in Latin with me in high school but we haven't really been in touch in the meantime), mentions that a friend of hers was in a similar position and made a photo book about the house and all their memories.  Everything that was precious, they could take with them. And another Facebook friend reminds me that the location, the place, isn't really as critical as the people who are in it. Others who have been through this ahead of me and still others who have been through much worse give me comfort.

So, I'm still feeling a little emotional about the whole thing.  But my mind is also racing with ideas about a house book.  A blurb book?  Hmm... but an altered book would be totally awesome.  The advntage of the blurb book is that I could make a copy for other people, but there are so many cool altered book options that I can tell that is the way to go.  Nothing like a new project to make me feel better!  And now that I have my sewing machine at my house, I can work on it until late in the night (sorry downstairs neighbors) and include some sewn pages.  So now, besides packing, I get to take photos of the house, and also gather old photos, think about text, paper, paint.  This is going to be a good project.  And maybe I would have thought of it eventually but I'm really glad to have something positive to be thinking about instead of wallowing in what cannot be changed.  So, where was I?  Are you on Facebook yet?  I have friends who say, oh, I don't have anything to say, I don't have any time, I can't even keep in touch with the people I WANT to keep in touch with, let alone those random people from high school who will track me down.  And sure, being open to possibility means that you might run into some people who are boring or annoying or who post political views that make you really aggravated, but who knows where the next big idea for your art or mental health is going to come from.  It seems like such a little thing but then there are so many ways that you can give and receive little gifts.  It's worth it to be daring!

projects projects projects

Friday 002Let's see, where to begin?   First, the craftivity for the month of September: decoupage wooden bracelets.  There are a variety of shapes to choose from.  Here's the sample that I made.  I painted twinkling watercolors on the inside and edge and then used tiny strips of various papers, adhered with diamond glaze.  I still have mixed feelings about mod podge with paper.  Often when I use it, it leads to a residual sticky feeling.  Right now I like using diamond glaze better for the jewelry projects.  And yes, we have that for sale, as well as crystal lacquer, which is what we use for the scrabble tile necklaces.  I've also been trying to make some headway on the list of things to make for Christmas.  There's a lot to do.  I really need to focus on making paper cranes since those are almost gone; though this week I've been working on making batik fabric rolls, headbands and glass pendants.  I'm moving my sewing room from my parents' house to my house so there's lots of chaos but there's a little space now.  I could actually grab 20 minutes and do some sewing a few times.  I think it will work out better for getting work done, just as soon as everything is all set up.  In the meantime, the coffee table is filled with jewelry-making supplies.  The adorable girl came over last night and stepped in the door, "WOW!" she said as she surveyed all the things to get into...  We didn't stay long.

We had a group of women come in yesterday and work on photo snippets.  There's been a little lull now that summer vacation is coming to an end, but the college students are definitely back in town and starting to stop in for apartment/dorm-decorating ideas.  I've spent some time rearranging the store, getting our new charms into cupcake tins and trying to figure out how to display the silk ribbons.  The colors are so lovely.  Oh, and I organized the area behind the cash register a little bit.  It was getting rather chaotic, but now we have drawers with labels, and desk accessories!  Very fun.  Now I have to tackle the office.  Sigh.

newsletter: fall 2009

We hope you enjoyed a lovely summer! 

After a few days in Door County, Point Beach and the Dells we are fired up and ready to craft!

Turn to page 48 in the current issue of Brava magazine and you’ll see a picture of us at our craft table (Sachi is wearing one of Rebecca's sweaters and an Orangy Porangy skirt). When asked to provide a fascinating fact about Anthology we thought it was pretty amazing that since we opened our customers have made over 8,000 buttons for a buck! That’s not even counting all the bracelets and picture frames people have created using family photos.

Laura and I are busy cutting, pasting, sewing and button-making in preparation for the holiday season as well as the 5th Annual Holiday Craftacular, to be held on Saturday, November 28th, two days after Thanksgiving and two blocks from Anthology at the Madison Masonic Center (301 Wisconsin Avenue). We have been busy poring over applications from talented artists making aprons, baby gifts, coasters, handbags, headbands, jewelry, journals, magnets, picture frames, soaps, screen-printed tees and much much more. Many of the items are cleverly crafted from recycled materials such as vintage fabrics, buttons, sweaters and storybooks.

NEW at Anthology:

Soldered pendants from Persimmons up in Manitowoc that feature vintage fabric, needlework and encyclopedia illustrations

Hand-dyed silk ribbon in a rainbow of colors, perfect for creating your own charm necklace

Sparkling and elegant beaded and sequined headbands

Hand-dyed slips in rich jewel tones

Baby onesies with British sayings (a soccer ball labeled “football,” a red swirled “lolly”)

Also onesies with various camera models--Polaroid and Rollie.

95% Recycled Tote Bags with bold graphics and cute sayings (“Paper or Plastic? NEITHER,” “I {heart} Paris” and “Adopt a Kitty”)

Rubber Stamps featuring Dracula, jack o' lanterns, monkeys, lions, birds and squirrels on bicycles

Day of the Dead figurines (we won't put them all out 'til October)

2010 Wall Calendars featuring the work of our favorite collage artists

Coming Soon:

Nikki McClure's 2010 Calendar (she's the artist who cuts intricate images from black construction paper)

Re-ment mini foods: introducing Grandma’s European Kitchen

Encaustic wooden photo blocks depicting classic Fisher Price toys, as well as Instamatic cameras, sprinkled donuts and sewing notions.

120 recycled book journals (Dr. Seuss, scientific and medical textbooks, cookbooks, Nancy Drew mysteries, Golden Books for children)

For our current craft table project you can pick out a wooden bangle and decoupage it with our decorative papers for $9. For the holidays you will be able to pick out a bangle and accompanying paper pack--it’s the perfect gift for a middle- or high schooler (although us 30-somethings were having a lot of fun making them, too!).

Be sure to mark your calendar for the Holiday Craftacular (Nov 28) and give us a call if you'd like to schedule a craft party with friends.

Laura & Sachi Komai

218 State Street
Madison, Wisconsin 53703

inspire -- create -- celebrate

September?! seriously?

I mean, really, I cannot believe it is already September.  Luckily my birthday is at the end of August so I usually count September as a month for celebrating as well.  Still, all these children are going back to school and Lily will be turning two (which makes me feel nostalgic for all the other children I've taken care of starting when they were two.  Now they are in high school and college and Lily will be there soon enough!) 

In the retail world, September means Christmas, placing orders, planning windows, making lists and checking them twice.  It's a little different for us because most of our items do not come on a slow boat from China.  We can put in our requests to our various consignment artists, but many of them are also gearing up for the fall/holiday season of craft fairs.  Meanwhile my own list of things to make is quite long on its own.  How nice to have so many projects to choose from and to be in demand: origami crane ornaments, scrap paper packs, magnet picture frames, magnets, button bracelets, mini notebooks, Madison snippets, aprons, knitter's pockets, fabric rolls, necklaces, notecards, fabric pennants.  And I would like to come up with some sort of Christmas ornament something or other.  At least I've finished the altered book for the Wisconsin Book Festival, and for next year's exhibit at Overture.  Now I need to come up with a project to work on for the Madison Area Open Art Studios.  Oh, and work on the journal swap.  I can't remember what book I'm supposed to work on next.

But this is all just more of the same old same old.  I'm really writing this post so I can show you the progress that I made on cleaning up my studio.  Ultimately, all this has to be packed and moved but I wanted the packing to be nice and organized so I spent a lot of time upstairs at my parents' house last night, sorting fabric into top priority piles that have to be moved with the sewing machine to my house, and other things that can be packed and moved to the sewing room that will ultimately be at my parents.  The realtor is taking pictures and listing the house on Friday so I have a couple more evenings to pack and clean up.  The studio is a funny shape to photograph, but, especially for you fabric people, I have to share the shelves of fabric.  Who knows what their arrangement will be in their new home, but I certainly have been fortunate to have the space.  Each cubby fits a quarter-yard-wide piece of fabric, sorted by color, of course.  And as for the rest of the studio, mmm..... no pictures.  There are still piles and then piles that got put away so no other view is that indicative of my studio space.Fabric 

I fantasize about the studios in Where Women Create - with high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling shelves or cool vintage type drawers or card catalogs but that is not on the cards for me anytime soon.

Still, here's the result of last night's work.  Ta da! Notice the clear floor.  It doesn't usually look that way.  And, you can't see it, but the banister is completely cleared off.  Usually there's a wall of fabric hanging from it.  Goodness, but I uncovered a lot of projects last night!