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December 2009
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February 2010

CHA cha cha... ooh la la

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(booth map, paper flowers at Anna Griffin, sweet pink bike at American Crafts, paper cakes at K & Company)

Well, I hardly know where to begin.  The Craft and Hobby Association (CHA) trade show in Anaheim, California was something else.  If you can imagine a fairly good-sized convention center, with rows and rows of booths, filled with craft supplies, projects, interesting displays and make n' takes, perhaps you can get some idea of the scale.  I don't have the precise figures, but I estimated the number of booths on our directory and came up with 600 vendors.  We were there for two days - Sunday and Monday.  On Sunday we walked up and down every single aisle.  Sachi took a workshop around lunchtime and learned to make three different books.  I kept walking and then when Sachi joined up with me, I sat down on the floor and sorted through papers while she walked the last few aisles.  The first day is mostly for scouting so we didn't write too many orders, just looked to see what there was to see.  And was there ever a lot! 

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(paper crown at Prima Marketing, paper flowers at Graphic 45, Vintaj booth, fun tree at Unity Stamp Co)

This is only our second year so we don't have a lot to compare it to but it is so great to see the creative projects that people are coming up with.   There is a huge range of people and products, starting from typical scrapbooking (though don't dismiss them because they are making some great patterns and textures, and also fun things to do with them as you will see in the pictures), "kitties and bunnies," mass produced craft supplies sold at Jo-Ann's and Michael's (I'm not knocking them, just trying to convey the range), Mod Podge, a life-size cardboard cut-out of Mark Montano (author of the Big Ass Book of Crafts), the REAL Mark Montano, plus tons of other craft-world superstars like the Crafty Chica, Tim Holtz, Claudine Hellmuth, authors of various fun crafty books (like the teacher for the felt necklace workshop that we took on Monday: Stefanie Girard, author of Sweater Surgery). 

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(fun tile frame and paperclip owl at Tim Holtz, Vintaj charm)

Pretty much every single booth has a "make n' take," a table filled with their products for you to sit down and try out.  Vintaj had great charms to stamp and decorate with inks, there was jewelry, paper flower pins, cards, all sorts of things to make.  You could spend the entire time just making stuff. 

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(7 Gypsies receipt holder and stack of letters, Girls' Paperie loveliness, nest & eggs at K & Co.)

And also being inspired by the great merchandising.  7 Gypsies had an awesome booth filled with vintage treasures and great inspiration, ditto for the Tim Holtz booth (I SO covet the pile of suitcases, and also the pink typewriter at the Girls' Paperie and the crown at Prima Marketing).     

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(paper cones at Graphic 45, paper medallions, paper roses at Cosmo Cricket, paper garlands at American Crafts)

I didn't quite exceed the weight limit, but our suitcases were much heavier on the return trip, thanks to all the catalogs that we picked up.  After our first day, I sat down and made a list of all the booths to return to and orders to place.  We paced ourselves a bit and have set some aside for future orders (in the summer when we are looking for a fresh burst of crafty goodness) but placed orders for at least a dozen brand new companies, as well as orders from some of our favorites.  Sachi filled her little notebook with ideas for new craft table activities and I emptied my closet of wool sweaters to felt and cut up into necklace pieces.  

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(bird silhouettes from K & Co, papers flower extravaganza at GCD Studios, Vintaj lovelies)

I'm thinking about a bird theme for the Mother's Day window and I was very inspired by the various paper projects, including fun bid silhouettes from K & Company, and sweet little birds under glass at Vintaj.

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(paper garlands and PINK! typewriter at Girls' Paperie, lovelies under glass at K & Company)

My personal favorite is from Jill Schwartz.  I've been coveting her jewelry since the first time I saw her booth at the New York Gift Show.  It's fabulous, but usually beyond my price range.  WELL, she is pairing with another company and has designed jewelry components for the rest of us.  Oh. my. goodness.  SO lovely!  The booth itself was a treat for the eyes - all sorts of trinkets piled in cake plates....  I pretty much ordered the whole line and can't wait for that to arrive in the store.  It will be fun to make jewelry with that and Vintaj pieces combined (Vintaj also had an amazing booth, naturally - the mind reels from all the options!).

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(yeah, that's right, these are all from Jill Schwartz!)

In all, I'd say it was a very successful trip. After two days at the show, we had three full days to explore southern California.  With the exception of one day with rain, the weather gods cooperated and gave us sunshine and 60s.  We spent time on the beach in Venice and Malibu, and got to see the great exhibit of lamps at LACMA, eat cupcakes at Frosted, meet up with friends, do some shopping, and enjoy the company of the adorable girl.  I was ready to come up, though not quite ready to come back to work, but Sachi and I are both excited and refreshed (at least in terms of crafty inspiration) and ready to start unpacking boxes (as soon as they arrive) and start some new projects.



Valentine goodness

Valentine 017Valentine 007Oh, remember those days of shoebox mailboxes?  Those are some fond memories....  Meanwhile, at Anthology, we've got a nice array of goodies for your Valentine card-making and gifting needs - paper, cards, ornaments like sweet sailor Valentines from Persimmons. 

The anatomical heart stamp is a popular one for card-making but we have many others to choose from, as well as stamp pads, blank notes to stamp, and various paper packs for card-decorating and collaging.  Valentine 010Valentine 013Valentine 014Valentine 011

Rebecca brought us a new batch of her sweaters, and the "Wisconsin Loves Me" onesie is a good gift for the babes.  Plus there are Valentine ornaments from Jane and Pamela, and plenty of sheets of paper to choose from.Valentine 008Valentine 012Valentine 015

At the craft table, we've got supplies for you to make your own Valentine's ($2 each).  We've also got supplies for you to make Valentine fortune cookies ($3 each) out of fabric from Laura's quilting collection.  You get to pick two pieces of fabric to cut and iron into fortune cookies and tuck a little love note inside.  They are a fun variation on the Valentine card theme.  And how fun would a whole bowl of those be as party favors?!  Valentine 009





felt love

DSC09634  Sachi and I had a chance to take a workshop from the author of Sweater Surgery, Stefanie Girard.  SO much fun!  I know lots of people have been making fun things with wool sweaters from the thrift stores; felting them, cutting them, stitching, etc, but this was my first chance to do so myself.DSC09632  We started out with some basic techniques and learned out to make fun little pinwheel pieces, as well as to use the Sizzix on felt to cut fun shapes.  I stuck with imitating the class sample, though picking out my own colors, while Sachi was super creative and made this fun necklace of red swirls and a cascade of leaves.  Now I want sweaters!  I hear they are getting hard to come by but I would love to have these necklaces as a craft table project so I'm going to have to start scrounging.  I did find one sweater at a thrift store out here, and am already thinking about the ones in my closet that I don't wear anymore... and kicking myself for giving up the ones that I have over the years.  That blue/purple one from the Gap would have been so nice to cut up!  Sigh.  It was fun to take a little break from CHA and sit down to work on this project.  It's so rare that I get to work on a craft project with Sachi so that was fun too.  As always, it's great to see what everyone else in class is doing - everyone puts their own unique spin on things.  Someone else made a great bouquet of felted wool flowers.DSC09633   And as soon as I can find enough wool sweaters, such projects will be coming to a craft table near you!

so much fun....

It's the end of day one out here in Southern California.  Well, day two, to be precise, but yesterday was just spent traveling and recuperating from the traveling.  The adorable girl did a good job but didn't get much sleep; hopefully she is making up for that right now, otherwise I'll be up in the wee hours of the morning when she wakes up (I said I'd take responsibility for entertaining her if she wakes up early, considering that our quiet time turned into a late nap which still hasn't ended at 10 pm California time).  We enjoyed a fun dinner with our former coworkers who are now transplanted to southern CA.  And yesterday we strolled in the still slightly waterlogged Belmont Shore district (sandbags everywhere) and had a cupcake at the CUPCAKERY... How I love that word!

Oh, I bet you really wanted to hear about CHA.   The Craft and Hobby Association has put together a great show once again.  My feet are aching but we walked the entire show today, including time for Sachi to take a bookmaking class and for me to make a fun necklace at one of the many make n' takes that are available.  Our minds are reeling.  Not only are there great products to order and bring home to Madison, but every booth has really fun samples and ideas for projects.  Sachi has filled a notebook with ideas... so much fun!  She is anxious to get home and make paper flowers, garlands, and more, and to make paper packs from fun French papers and charming necklaces.  We are making our list now of orders to place tomorrow and we are also looking forward to a workshop making a felt flower necklace.  There are so many great products!  I love to see all the things that people are doing with textures and colors, interesting vintage designs...  I'm sure the goodies will be trickling in over the course of the next month or so and it will be fun to make new things and rearrange the store to make room for more.  The most exciting thing, for me anyway?  For ages I have been drooling over the jewelry designs of Jill Schwartz.  We see her fabulous booths at the New York Gift Show when we used to travel there for our previous life.  They were always so gorgeous!  But they never really worked for that life, and they are a still a little out of reach for this life.  But you should see what she has done.  Total genius!  She's designed charms for the rest of us and now we can all buy charms and links and other jewelry notions and make our own little lovelies.  Sweet vintage-inspired ribbon flowers, sparklies, keys, crystals and other trinkets.  The funny thing is that when we went to the Cupcakery (let's face it, who wouldn't say that word again if they could?), the woman who boxed up our cupcakes was wearing a necklace with a cool bird charm and it was very very close to the bird that we'll get in.  Hooray.  These will look really great paired with Vintaj brass (who, yes of course, has an awesome booth filled with great inspiration).  We are thinking ahead to a Mother's Day window filled with bird and branch lovelies, and won't some vintage-inspired charms be a nice thing to make into a necklace or pendant for Mom?

Madison Magazine

Looks like everyone is getting ready for Valentine's Day. A few weeks ago, Shayna from Madison Magazine stopped in to pick up some goodies for a photo shoot.  There's a great array of reds and pinks (LOVE that color combination), including ties and cards from Anthology.  Check it out here: Romantic Madison Gift Guide. Thanks Madison Magazine!

on the road

Let's see.... I think August was the last time that I was gone from the store for more than two days in a row (and even two days in a row is a rarity).  And Sachi?  Maybe July?  So, we're definitely ready to take a little vacation!  We're going to southern California for the Craft & Hobby Association trade show.  Hooray for craft supplies! We are eager to see what new projects and products are out there, and to try some for ourselves.  The craft world is pretty fun because pretty much every vendor has "make n' takes" where you can try out their products.  Last year we had lots of fun with Vintaj brass and we are eager to see what they've got, along with all the other vendors.  We'll be at the show for a few days, and then taking a vacation time with the adorable girl and my brother-in-law.  We are looking forward to catching up with friends who live in the area, seeing the beach and the ocean, wearing one less layer of clothing.  I'm bringing some knitting and some books to read. 

SO, Anthology will be closed on Sunday and Monday (the 24th and 25th).  Pamela and Mom will be running the store on reduced hours from Tuesday through Friday, open from noon to 5.  We'll be back on Saturday the 30th.  I'm sure it will take a little while for our orders to come in, but that should make for a fun spring.

I'm not sure of the internet accessibility while we are away so you might not be hearing from me, but I'm sure I will have lots to report once we get back!

winter wonderland?

Valentine 002 Of course, I'm sure that it is more wonderful since we'll be leaving soon, but Sunday morning was so pretty.  I took a little time to walk along the lakeshore path and enjoy the frosty branches.  I can hardly believe how many people were already out on the ice so early on Sunday morning.  That is a dedicated group of fishermen!  There was a dense fog Saturday night and in the morning, which resulted in some amazing crystals on the branches. 

I love winter.  Seriously, I do.  I would miss it if I didn't have it, the cold, the snow, the bare branches.  Of course, it could be a little shorter than it is here in Wisconsin...

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In about a week, Sachi and I are going with my brother-in-law and the adorable girl to CALIFORNIA!  The Craft & Hobby Association is having its bi-annual trade show so we'll be walking up and down aisles past tables and shelves filled with craft supplies.  Yeah, it's a rough life, but someone's gotta do it.  Sachi and I will work for a couple days and then we get a couple days at the beach.  Hooray!  I need to do laundry and pack.  Eek!  At the moment, I don't really have any art project that can easily travel and am not sure what the internet access situation will be.... whoa... could it be that I will just be focusing on the moment?!  Now there's a novel idea.  I'd better at least go get some books from the library.  I have gotten back into knitting this week so that's one possibility, though knitting in Wisconsin in winter seems more appropriate.

What else?  January is flying by just like all the other months.  I am close to caught-up on all the year-end paperwork, including various tax things for the business.  My own will have to wait for a little bit (anyway, I can't get far until the tax preparer has done the biz work).  As long as I don't look too far ahead, the store is pretty well stocked.  There is much work to be done to get ready for summer and Sachi is resolved to have stockpiles in place.  We'll see how far I get involved in that particular project.  I did make lots of terrace chair buttons today to be made into picture frames.  That's one item that we were just barely keeping up with for most of last year.  It would be nice to be a little ahead of the game (you know it's bad when inside you sigh tiredly when someone purchases a frame, "I have to make more of those again!?"). 

I feel like I've been bouncing around without a lot of focus this month.  There are so many different directions to go in.  At home I am working on mini 2x2 Alice in Wonderland books as part of an exchange for the guild that I am a member of.  I'm cutting lots of paper into 2x2 pieces and punching holes.  The structure isn't very complicated but I am quite fond of the text that I wrote (some I wrote myself, some excerpts from the book).  New projects include: Vintaj bracelets and pendants, making something with the yummy resin flowers that arrived, restocking things that sold last year, trying to come up with new things to make and new projects for the craft table.  It's all a little paused, waiting to see what is in store for us on this buying trip.  There is sure to be new projects, new supplies, new ideas.  The mind reels....

haven't any words

the water washed away everything
but the chance to begin again

so we came from cities & towns,
from long golden fields
& we stood side by side
until we made a bridge to dry land,

back to a place
we have promised to hold safe
for each other's children,

back to a place
called America

(this was written by Brian Andreas after Hurricane Katrina, but I think it reads just as well and currently if you say that the earth shook everything away and we returned to back to a place called the world).

What is there to say, really? Everyone knows by now that there was an earthquake in Haiti.  The quantity of words and images seems overwhelming and yet totally inadequate.  Everyone has their favorite links to follow, their own little ways of helping and acting in a situation where it is easy to feel helpless and powerless.  I saw that JP Morgan Chase has pledged a million dollars in aid; it's probably pocket change to them and I am hopeful that everyone is able to be generous with more than just their pocket change.  I really don't have any more words to share on the subject.  My comfort has been to fall back on the words of Brian Andreas, who seems to speak to me in pretty much any situation:

"There are days I drop words of comfort on myself like falling rain & remember it is enough to be taken care of by myself. "

"In my dream, the angel shrugged & said, If we fail this time, it will be a failure of imagination & then she placed the world gently in the palm of my hand."

I am feeling sad.  The sorrow is almost unbearable if you think about YOUR mother, YOUR child, YOUR home, and how that is being repeated over and over again.  I am feeling hopeful - that's the naive optimist in me, that even while this event has changed many lives for the worse, there is time and attention and the resources that can have just as great, if not greater, an effect in the opposite direction.

I like what Anahata Katkin had to say: "Please take two minutes to imagine in your mind every person in Haiti with at least water and food and a moment of calm. And a simple tether of invisible company to those who are still trapped. This will go just as far as donations..."

I have also appreciated the introduction to Adventures in Life, a blog kept by two Americans in Haiti: "From a point in our walk, we could see the entire valley below harboring Port-au-Prince, the harbor and the ocean beyond. The fresh air and the fragrant life of the countryside were healing, and helped restore my hope that Haiti has not lost everything. Haiti will persevere, live, grow, rebuild, heal. Because that is what Haitians do."

etsy love

Etsy 002Maybe it's a love/hate thing.  I do love, honest I do.  It gets a little annoying when people come into our store and say, "Oh yeah, this is like etsy," as if that is the gold standard by which everything should be judged, and as if there is nothing original about what we are doing.  And it can be a little overwhelming to sift through everything that is there, but there's something democratic about that, and I like it.  On idle Sunday afternoons, one of my favorite activities is to search for random things like "Alice in Wonderland" "blue skies" or "dinner parties."  And then, of course, don't forget about the amazing SUPPLIES you can find.  Most of Sachi's Christmas present was found on etsy - little cabachons, bezels, beads that were so much fun to put together.  I could spend a week just looking at bezels and cabachons.  Etsy 001

Here's our latest treat from the world of etsy.  I love these resin flowers and have been eyeing them for a while.  They look like frosting flowers to me but they will be good for rings, pendants, bracelets...  I'm having trouble focusing.  The bright colors are a perfect antidote to winter weather!  The purples and blues in this picture are my favorite colors - I could enlarge this picture and put it in my house.