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February 2010
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April 2010

spring garlands

The promise of warmer weather this week is making me a little giddy.  But I probably shouldn't have stopped wearing the knee-his just yet.  It was a little cold at the bus stop this morning.  But isn't it lovely, these little tastes of spring that are starting to appear?  Buds on branches, birds chirping away, the few brave flowers that won't wait until after Mother's Day (apparently here in Wisconsin you aren't supposed to put the plants out until then - which implies the potential of an overnight frost anytime before mid-May... yep, spring comes slowly here).  Still there's a rumor of almost 70 degrees later this week so that should help things green up a little bit more.  

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Unfortunately we are no green thumbs here at Anthology, but we'll do our part to bring color and spring back to your days.  There are plenty of supplies to help the process along and we've filled the craft table with a fun assortment of new arrivals from our travels in January.  One thing that was particularly fun at the Craft & Hobby Association trade show was the way people displayed their products.  A lot of booths made fun garlands with an assortment of papers, flowers, tags.  It was a nice step out of the box of traditional garlands that are all the same shape/size/substance. 

We've got kits to get you started, but the fun thing is that you can simply use the mini clothespins and attach your own photos and travel mementos and notes to a ribbon.  I like them for displaying recently received notes and postcards, as well as to feature an ever-changing exhibit of photographs.  But it is also interesting to add an assortment of textures and colors.  The starter kit includes ribbon and clothespins, fabric scraps, floral papers, paper flowers, chipboard shapes of butterflies and birds and flowers, punched paper shapes, as well as other doodads for embellishment.  Using a mix of gluing, threading, sewing and clothespins, you can create a fun garland to decorate your home or office.  You can buy the kits and sit at our table to make your garland (costs an additional $5 to use our glue, scissors, sparkling watercolors, glitter, etc) or simply take the ingredients home with you.  Looks like the weekend might be rainy so this could be a fun indoor activity to bring spring to the house (so much more fun than spring cleaning!).  I've only just gotten started on mine - the kit includes 3 yards of ribbon so there's lots of room to add all sorts of goodies.Garland 004

enamel zeal

Friday 006I feel the need to work on my vocabulary.  Most posts start with either "goodness" or "love" in their title.  I need to diversify here.  The fact remains that this IS goodness and it IS love.  and it IS charm too, another word I realize I am overusing.

These enamel pieces come to us from an artist in Duluth.  We sell them individually (they would be great in a bracelet or other jewelry piece... and, oh! maybe with a silk ribbon?!) but I also made a batch up into earrings and these fun necklaces. 

Enamel 002Now that we have the nice little earring display (purchased online from Urban Outfitters, which has a great selection of such jewelry display pieces), I want to keep it filled with earrings.  For some reason, that is something that we tend to be lacking.  All the stars have aligned now - our new shipment of Vintaj included earring hooks so I could quickly make a bunch of lovely enamel earrings.  I bought a few matching enamel pieces the first time around but now I have lots to choose from.  I just made some simple earrings but I also have ideas for more intricate ones.  Enamel 001

Well, I made a few that are more intricate. I couldn't make a matching set, it was much more fun to mix it up a little bit.  The colors and theme coordinate but the left ear won't precisely match the right ear. I made this heart & lock set in red, plus a key & lock set in green and a moon & star set in blues.  They could be sweet as little necklace clusters too, come to think of it.  Hm. 

Buying this enamel is a very fun activity because the artist brings in bunches and bunches and you just get to pick what you want.  I kind of got carried away in my purchasing but I have happily sold several already so hopefully my sister won't be so annoyed with me when she returns from her weekend away.  The colors are so gorgeous though!  I stayed up late last night, trying out various color combinations.  Enamel 003

Being me, I can't just have a single piece on a necklace (though that would be nice too) - I really like the clusters of a few pieces with a little variety of color.  A very fun project indeed.  I'm working up to May when we will have various supplies at the craft table to make your own charming necklaces and bracelets.  Still awaiting the arrival of the Jill Schwartz pieces but it should all be a fun assortment. I like the way the Vintaj works with the enamel.  Honestly, this addiction with Vintaj is kind of funny because I've always considered myself a silver girl.  I used to be such a stickler! no gold at all. and no mixing either.  But I've seen some really great pieces made with a mix of metals so maybe, just maybe, I will make the leap.


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In January when we went to California, we got to do a little shopping and there were some stores that we went into that smelled so wonderful.  I traced the scent back to these lovelies and am super excited to bring them to Anthology.  I don't like it when stores have an overpowering scent, but I do like it when there's a little bit more than just the smell of Mod Podge and E6000 tinging the atmosphere.  We got mini soaps and candles in tins, lip balm and solid parfum (including one called "I Made You A Mix Tape" which I simply couldn't resist).  I love the packaging design - sweet florals, cupcakes, sweet birds mixed with text in a way that is so appealing to me.  I think they will be nice little Easter basket and Mother's day goodies.

aw shucks...

Vintaj 001The first thing I found this morning while going through my run of email-Facebook-blog checking, was a note from Jess at Vintaj, telling me that she featured Anthology in their fun blog.  And of course I had to read the comments.  There is the danger of too much knowledge, even though I am willing to accept that I have my faults, it is sometimes painful to read or hear them - people who are disinterested in the store, don't get it, etc. etc.  At the same time, that is part of the risk that we take, posting things online, opening up a store and not hiding in a cave.  And some of my own growth comes from being able to accept the criticism and disinterest, not as a personal attack, but just more proof of this wonderfully diverse world that we live in.  That said, I couldn't help but read the comments section of the blog, and have to confess that it is GREAT to start out the day with comments like these:

"This is TOTALLY the best store ever! I discovered it on a trip to Madison with my kids within a month after they opened. It is like a secret little jewel on State Street (which is the best place to be in Madison!). I want an Anthology store where I live. I never miss a chance to go there, and I never walk away empty handed, and my head is so swirling with ideas. Wonderful! Enjoy the day!"

"This looks just like my studio. In my DREAMS!
It looks so inviting and cozy I just want to jump through my computer.

Charm bracelets are my favorite and Laura’s designs got my heart going.
Who needs coffee in the morning when I got My Vintaj going on."

Isn't that nice?  The girls at Vintaj are really the sweetest and it seems appropriate to have this conversation right now since both Sachi and I have spent the last couple nights making charming bracelets and necklaces.  We just got a new shipment from Vintaj so there are plenty of bird charms and wire (Sachi's been making sweet little nests and really been wanting more birds to go along with them).Etsy 001

Easter baskets

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Oh, this is such a nice time of year.  The grass is starting to green up, the trees are budding, even some flowers are blooming.  And at the store, many new spring lovelies are arriving almost every day, including these great baskets from Emily.  She crochets these from thrift store sheets and other fabrics.  They'd be good to hold all sorts of odds n' ends, and the fun colors make us think of Easter eggs.

could it be?

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The branches are still mostly bare, but I can sense just a smidgen more fullness.  I washed my heavy winter coat and have transitioned to the spring/fall coats.  There are still moments when my nose or toes or fingers feel quite chilled and I probably shouldn't stop wearing all the layers, but signs are all around that spring is starting to arrive.

At Anthology, you can feel it in the filling of the shelves, as the items we ordered in January are starting to arrive.  Just like the branches, it feels like there is blooming underway.  Hopefully the lovelies that we've been gathering will start to ferment in your mind and start your very own blooming.

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It also feels like everyone is starting to emerge from hibernation.  Even if a few brisk mornings throw us off, there are definite signs of spring.  We've been busy this past week with several different craft parties and I can tell that people are already starting to think about what they might make over spring break.  If you need a dose of color or inspiration, we have lots to share with you. Many of our artists have brought in new creations; Sachi and Laura are hard at work making new items, and there are new arrivals almost every day.  We hope to see you soon!


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I'm inspired by Emily Kircher who is taking "before" pictures of her crochet rugs.  If it were up to me, I would make postcards of those fun images -- those balls of recycled thrift store fabrics are very appealing to me!  Anyway, here's a "before" of mine, though more like a picture from the middle of the process.  I have a huge pile of ironing that I have slowly (not without complaining) been making my way through.  I washed about 5 loads of batik fabrics -- some to make into batik fabric packs for the store, some to sew into a wedding present quilt.  I realized last night, around 10 pm, that while the wedding is not until the fall, my appointment with the machine quilter is in May so eek!  gotta get to work!  I spent an enjoyable hour or so, picking out the fabric from among those that are already washed, ironed, and cut into 5" wide bands.  That's probably my favorite step in the whole process.  I will either cut those into strips to make into smaller striped sections or checkerboard sections, or I will cut them into triangles to sew together.  While I've been on a checkerboard kick lately, I am feeling some nostalgia for all the triangle quilts that I used to make.  We'll see what the bride and groom-to-be have to say.


Well, we've had a busy couple days here at the shop.  Friday we had a group of 10 girls come in for a birthday party.  They all made buttons to decorate picture frames and to pin on their jackets.  Saturday morning, another group of 10, this time grown-up, coming in for another button-making session.  It was a bridal shower, which, to be honest, is about the most fun type of bridal shower I can imagine.  But then I'm not one for playing games.  A few hours later, another party arrived - this time 7 girls for a 10 year-old birthday party.  They made the decoupage fabric mirrors.  It's always so fun to see the different results (and the different approaches).  You know how you run into a teacher from elementary school twenty or thirty years later and they aren't at all surprised at what you are up to? Some of those personality traits are evident pretty early on...the perfectionist, the patient, the precise...and their opposites as well).  Here they are with their mirrors.  You can't really tell, but that royal blue one in the front row is an ocean scene with some seagrass and fish.


ooh la la!

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We just got a delivery from the fab Kim of Persimmons in Manitowoc.  She's a very amazing and productive artist; she casually mentioned to me that she had 200 pendants at home waiting to be soldered... I love her style.  There's something funky and charming about it that is very appealing to me.   One of her latest directions is to add these little bits of seam tape - I love the way they totally change the look of a necklace!

I first met Kim via mutual friends on Facebook and finally got to see her shop in person last August when I went to Friday 002Friday 001Lake Michigan for a little summer getaway.  It's a pretty incredible and inspiring space.  She has since reconfigured a bit and is focusing more on classes and her own artwork, but if you can arrange a visit, I'd totally recommend it.  We like to stock up on game pieces and other collage ephemera when we visit.

Today we were fortunate that she was able to come to Madison and bring us a whole bunch of goodies to pick from.  We are happy to have some new and charming necklaces of hers, as well as some fun bracelets.

AND, check out these great soldered pendants!  She's using all sorts of fun words.  I'm such a sucker for text.  I got quite carried away.


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It's true, we do.  There's so much to love about it, too.  In the crafting world, oodles of papers and patterns to inspire.  We indulged our passion for pretty papers, and all sorts of cuteness (Re-Ment has long been a favorite and we are happy that our customers agree with us).  Thursday 006Sachi has filled the window with a fun assortment, and there is more on the way.  I folded paper cranes for Sachi to attach to a branch and I love the way they look.  I might have to make some of those for my house.  Our mom used to make an Easter egg tree and I think some folded paper cranes would be a nice addition.  We have a great assortment of origami papers to choose from, including some that are made from the sketches of an artist -- so clever and unique!
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