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October 2009
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December 2009

spectacular Craftacular

Well, that's just what I've heard.  We had a busy holiday weekend at the store and I didn't get away but Sachi was busy over at the Masonic Center.  We certainly lucked out with the weather, and there were many people downtown as well for the Holiday Open House.  Several customers commented that they enjoyed the show and I am hearing good reports from friends and fellow artists and crafters.  It has certainly been satisfying to work on something that was so well-received... makes answering and writing those hundreds of emails all worthwhile.  I feel strongly that this is an important event for the Madison area so it was a pleasure to be able to co-host.  Now begins the cleaning-up, evaluation, planning... oh yeah, and getting ready for Christmas!  My long list of things to make is getting shorter, just as the time is getting shorter.  Certain things have already been crossed off - either I won't get to them or they are done.

feeling lucky

and thankful too.  Two years ago today I woke up at 6 am with the proverbial light bulb moment.  It's one of the rare moments that I can remember having such clarity of thought.  It had been a rough year.  Changes at my job had been in the works since the beginning of the year.  Other changes were going on in the lives of people around me and I was wrestling with that pesky "what am I going to do with the rest of my life?" question.  At the time, it really felt like a mid-life crisis.  Only time will tell if there is more to come.  And then on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I woke up early and my path was clear.  Even though it was something I always intended to do someday, I had been busy coming up with jobs to fill in the time, but when I woke up it was suddenly obvious.  We should open a store!  This was the moment. 

That Thanksgiving day I went to dinner at the house of a good friend.  Though I had discussed it with Sachi, that dinner was the first time that I really stated our intention out loud and in public, so I always look back on Thanksgiving as the anniversary of this store.

There followed a whirlwind.  I worked through Christmas and into the new year at my old job.  We met with the realtor (there wasn't any looking to do, this was the space I had my eye on for a while).  We cashed in stocks.  Sachi wrote the business plan, met with the banker, met with the lawyer and otherwise took care of all those pesky and important details, along with a newborn Lily.  It really seemed like the perfect moment.  A lot of people look back on the economy in the intervening time and say, "whoa, this was a tough time to start a business."  But I feel really lucky that we started when we did.  If we had waited even 6 months longer, the window would have been shut and then conditions REALLY would have been hard for starting a business. 

Anthology 002In January we signed our lease.  Here's how the space looked when we first took it over.  We papered the windows with various quotations about creativity as well as assorted magazine scraps - a nod to our usual college decorating styles.  Working late at night Sachi heard some women stop outside the door and read our description.  One of the women scoffed and said "I give it 6 months."  Thankfully, other people have been much more supportive and I feel lucky to have so many great friends and family members, not to mention customers who have been with me along this path. Just today a customer told me that I was really lucky to work in such a creative environment.  I agree.

Anthology 005

We will be open 2 years, come March 2010.  The store has filled in a lot since those early Pepto Bismol pink days.  We have over 40 artists represented at the store, as well as many items we love and craft supplies that are inspiring.  I can't count how many people have been inspired to go home and create something and for me, that is the answer to the "how am I going to make the world a better place?" question.

So, I am co-owner of a business I love, I spend my days in a colorful and creative setting, making stuff, moving things around.  I take a risk and open myself up to the possibility of criticism and crabby customers, but I also make new connections, hear compliments everyday and am part of an energizing and creating world.  And, oh yeah, I have an adorable niece!  Aren't I lucky!

Anthology2 001

December events

That's right, the holidays really are just around the corner!  Lots of people have been asking us about custom button bracelets and picture frames and I've been busy making custom photo charms.  It's a nice way to give someone something that's really personal.

We still have some birthday parties scheduled for the month but we've also set up a schedule of craftivities for December.  You are always welcome to work on another project if you give us at least three days' advanced notice to gather supplies and clear space.  Otherwise, drop in for any of the following:

December 1 - 9.

Decoupage mirror frame. $15.  Use our scraps of fabric to decorate a mirror frame.

Christmas Cards. $2 each.  Lots of rubber stamps, scrap papers, twinkling watercolors and more for you to decorate a card for someone for the holidays.

 December 10 - 17.

Stamped Charm Necklace. prices start at $6. Small flat brass pieces can be stamped with various text and then attached to a simple ribbon. 

Paper Stars. $2 each.  Cut paper and assemble simple, yet fun, paper stars for decorating packages or hanging on the tree.

 December 12, 11 am - 1 pm.

Jane's Paper Stars demo, with kits available for purchase.

Our paper star artist will be at the craft table with scissors and paper to show you how to make your own paper stars.

 December 18 - 24.

Photo Snippets. $10 - $25. Bring in your photos and use our punch, paper and double-sided tape to create a custom collage.

Paper Garlands. $5 each. Use assorted papers and ribbons to make holiday garlands.  Bring in last year's cards and make a card garland

 December 26-31.

New Year's Resolutions Button Bracelets.  $14. Make a button bracelet with words for the coming year.


Once upon a time, it was 2027.... I think that was back in May of 2008 - the number of lifetime pageviews for this blog.  Now, I know, lots of those pageviews are infintesimal as someone is on their way to somewhere else, and it counts people who visit more than once on each of their visits and each of their page clicks.  Still, we're up to 45,467 for this blog.  Amazing!  Thanks so much to everyone for stopping in!

Laura & Sachi hard at work

S&l 001S&l 003Well, at least there is something to show for it. Between getting ready for the holidays at Anthology, restocking from summer, and the Craftacular, we've both been busy making making making.  We are enjoying the quality and ease of ICE resin, which you can purchase from Anthology if you'd like to try some yourself.  S&l 005I know it seems like splitting hairs but it does seem clearer than what we were using before.  There have been several custom photo charm commissions so I've been busy with those, but also mixing up enough resin each batch to make some others, including this sweet double-sided circle featuring the adorable girl on her second birthday.  I know, there are more than two candles but I needed the light and the time provided by more.  Of course I had to put it in with a cluster of charms because I am addicted to the silk ribbons. 

S&l 007S&l 006Sachi has been making bottlecap bead pendants for our Craftacular table.  I can't believe after all this organizing, that it is less than 2 weeks away.  As much as I am committed to the event, it will be nice when I don't have to answer quite so many emails every day.  We both finally restocked our terrace chair frames and Madison photo snippets, and I made a batch of button bracelets.

S&l 002

S&l 004I cleared off my coffee table long enough to finish a batch of magnet picture frames, and managed to find all the tools in my parents' basement so now there's a full drawer.  I had really let those dwindle...  

And I made a batch of the glass pendants - a nice simple way to make a collaged necklace, which is about all that I have time for.  I have good intentions of making some more detailed collages. Someday. So, slowly, slowly, things are getting checked off the list.  It's a good thing.

i'm sure there would be pictures...

If I hadn't left my camera at my parents' house a few days ago.  To make a long story short, somehow I've ended up carrying only the bare minimum around with me for the last couple days.  Usually there's a larger tote with the yoga clothes, fig newtons for the adorable girl, camera, sunglasses, calendar, etc.  But for the last couple days I've just had my keys and my wallet.  I'm not at all a minimalist so I'm not sure why the situation is going on as long as it is.  There have been several occasions that I've wished for my camera.  Wait, was this going to be a short story?  The short story is that there are no pictures with this post.  I really don't like blog posts without pictures and if you are of the same mind, you might as well just stop reading now.  But I thought I should say something.  I've been so negligent lately.  That's what I get for thinking badly of people who can't post often to their blogs.  Karma, I tell you, it gets you sooner than you think it will.

So, where was I?  The month of November has been much more pleasant than October.  Not only does that make me happier personally (it was really depressing to think that the next nice weather we would have would be sometime in April), but that makes the store busier.  People are starting their holiday shopping but they are also just out and about enjoying the sunshine and the fall colors.  There are still some leaves clinging to the trees, though I am also enjoying the emerging bare branches. There's something so poetic about bare branches silhouetted against the sky.

My parents' have made the move to their new house so I've been helping a little with that, though I need to spend a lot more time unpacking some boxes.  I tend to hang my artwork within a few days of moving so I was glad when Mom went ahead last week and started hanging things up, even though there will be some painting done sometime down the line.  I think everyone is getting settled into new places and new routines and all in all, it feels totally right.  I am really glad for a Facebook friend's suggestion that I take pictures of the old house.  I had several photo sessions and it was a good way to work through my emotions and to say farewell.

I finally had a chance to take care of some paperwork, including cleaning out my email sent messages box last week.  I do periodically find those messages useful so it's something that I might not do for 8 months. It was an interesting reminder of everything that went on this year.  A good first step in the Christmas-letter-writing process, which really should begin soon.  I remember times when I used to everything written and addressed before Thanksgiving and would just sit around waiting a week or two until it wasn't too early to send them.  It will probably be a January project this year, though I must be careful not to expect too many things for January.  We will be gone for a week to southern California for the craft & hobby trade show, as well as some beach vacation time.  And I'm always busier than I think I'm going to be, and consequently get less work done.

I enjoyed an inspiring night out to see Carmen with Mom, and then this week, a last-minute outing for Flamenco Vivo, which was a really great performance.  Dance with live music is a treat for me, and there were a few moments when I was busily figuring out how I could modify an awesome flamenco dress into something for myself.  Perhaps that will be my treat for my 40th birthday party.  I thought I'd make everyone wear polka dots, or would that be too dizzying?

In addition to being busier with customers, many of our artists have brought deliveries for the holiday season: storybook coasters from Naomi, bottlecap necklaces from Emily, hand-dyed slips from Michelle, felted critters from Lisa, sock monsters from the other Emily, felted baskets from Donna, mirrors from Jen, notecards from Alisson. Not to mention other shipments like more fun notecards, recycled book journals, Christmas wrapping paper... LOTS of stuff to find space for!  The office is a little crazy, despite two attempts to enforce some order.  And I need more drawer space. That's a chronic condition.  I did spend time this week and rearrange the store.  There have already been sales of some of the moved items so it feels like the moves have already been rewarded.  Now that we have a little table of Christmas items (don't worry, we won't play Christmas music until after Thanksgiving!) that means things have to crunch even more.  

Sachi and I have been diligently restocking as well. Sachi made another batch of resin pendants with some new images: books, shells, pears.  We are having lots of fun putting the pendants on the silk ribbons.  Well, I just love the silk ribbons no matter what; I like the color and charm and their flexibility - I've been having lots of fun with the ones that I made myself, trying a different grouping of ribbons with every outfit.  Sachi has also been making her Madison photo snippets and button bracelets.  For me, this week has been a terrace chair extravanga: button frames, bracelets, photo snippets.  Not to mention that we've had a lot of commissions for custom photo charms so I've had plenty of opportunities to play with ICE resin. 

I'm also working on a 2x2 book swap for the guild that I'm a member of.  I'm making several editions of a mini Alice in Wonderland book because I'm hoping to persuade other people to swap with me.  Now that I've finished up the blurb 2x2 book, I see how many fellow artists' books I don't have in my collection...  And, oh yeah, speaking of blurb, I'm working on Lily's second year book.  It might not be done in time for Christmas at the rate I am going, but it has been fun to work on that.  She has changed so much over the last year! It's pretty amazing.  I find now that I am an aunt, mentions of aunts/nieces/nephews resonate more with me - I'll find myself thinking, 'oh, that will be me in 20 years' when someone talks about taking their niece on a college visit.  

And what else?  Oh yeah, the CRAFTACULAR!  Coming soon!  The volume of emails has definitely dropped off so that's a good thing.  It was a pretty time-consuming task there for a while but now most of the details are worked out.  We're getting a flyer printed for the day of, there were posters and postcards to distribute.  I'm pretty excited about it, even though I probably won't get to see the results of the work.  It's the Saturday just after Thanksgiving and hopefully the weather will be fantastic and lots of people will come downtown for the holiday open house and Mom and Pamela and I will be so busy at the store that we won't be able to stop over and see Sachi and Deandra and Jen and Naomi and Jermoe and everyone else.  There was already a nice write-up in the Sunday 77 Square section of the newspaper and certainly a lot of people that I've talked to have been excited about it. 

The time has just been flying by.  Every Friday, Sachi and I marvel that yet another week is gone.  But things are good and busy and happy, even if the list of things to do doesn't really get any shorter no matter how much I accomplish.  On Facebook, people have been posting things they are thankful for, in honor of the upcoming holiday.  A friend started posting a list each day, which has been a fun challenge.  There's so much that lists quickly gets long.

is it too early?

Gift tags 003 To talk about the holidays?  I know, it seems a little early perhaps?  But the Craftacular is only 22 days away so it's all coming up rather quickly.  I'm not ready to listen to Christmas music.  Well, I am always ready, but I won't play it during store hours.  I went to a lovely holiday open house at The Century House, and the next several weekends are filled with art and craft fair shopping possibilities.  My work for the Craftacular is wrapping up, or at least not as intense as it was before, so I can focus on making things for our Craftacular booth, as well as for the store for the holidays.  Sachi is done teaching the bookmaking class for UW-Continuing Ed.  Now there's the pile of things that we've been putting off.  This morning I dealt with the file cabinet.  Next on the list is possible consignees, receiving and entering consignee deliveries, cleaning the office, magnet picture frames, button bracelets, cupcake aprons and artist pockets.

We did set up a little Christmas corner in the store.  We'll be getting more things from our artists but there are donut and bottlecap ornaments, scrap paper packs, cards, glitter, rubber stamps, German paper scraps... at least you can start your Christmas card making if you are so inclined.

Gift tags 001The craftivity for November is gift tags so the table is chock full of supplies as usual.  I'm especially fond of the different colors and textures of glitter.  Today a group came in and decorated tags - three tags for $5.