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May 2010

taking flight, gifts for grads

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Speaking of time flying...  UW-Madison graduation is coming up quickly, followed by the high school graduations in June.  It is not so far in the past for me - this time of year still conjures up such a sense of excitement and possibility and terror...  I had a momentary panicked flash-forward, envisioning Katie and Jamie graduating from high school, even though they are still 2- and 4- years old in my mind, jumping up and down in excitement when I arrived to their house for an afternoon of babysitting.  I think there are a few more years before the reality of their graduation occurs, and still more years before that reality sets in (after all, there's yet another Jamie who remains 2 in my mind, even though he's long gone to college).

For those who are about to set out into a new part of their lives, we have plenty of gift suggestions.  There are goodies made here in Madison, mementos to take out into the world: journals with vintage UW yearbook images by Amy, button terrace frames and photo snippets made right here at Anthology.

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Personally, I've always loved the idea of journals as graduation gifts and we have more recycled book journals on their way, as well as the inspiring images of PapaYa!  Or perhaps a grad might be interested in coming in for an altered books workshop, a chance to make an altered address book to use as a journal for the adventures to come.  Or perhaps a passport case, handmade in L.A. of recycled materials.Fleur 003

And just in case you were feeling that this store is too girly (I'll admit that after years of giving socks to my Dad, at his request, I find it much easier to find presents for girls), we are happy to have a fresh batch of the fabulous ties handmade in New York.  The bicycle ties are always popular, but I'd really love to see a shark tie appear in court someday.Fleur 008

a token of nests left behind

Nest 002Maybe it's the weekend's foggy weather, but I've got San Francisco on my mind.   When Anthology was just a gleam in two sisters' eyes, I spent an enjoyable week visiting my uncle in San Francisco, taking pictures of the angels in the Oakland Cemetery, meeting with Goo and C & E, seeing Robear's amazing chandelier collection (ever thought of having a chandelier over your kitchen sink or bathroom? he has), shuffling sheets of paper at Flax, filling in my altered travel journal, getting my "bitter sweet" t-shirt from Scharfenberger at the Ferry Plaza market, visiting inspiring shops like Nest and Castle in the Air and various paper stores.  After patiently touring me around the city, listening to me talk shop (literally - complimenting other people's shops, complaining about my current shop job), one memorable luncheon my uncle said to me, "I think it's time that you open your own store.  Now."  Even though this was something I've been talking about for several years, this was a big push.  In our family, his corporate experience makes him the business expert and such words from him carry a little more weight than other friends and family (not that their support and encouragement wasn't critical but they were less aggressive about telling me what to do).

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Of course, I think it was another year before everything conspired to make me take the leap, but my uncle certainly started the teetering.  It's been on my mind as I have been gathering products for the graduation and Mother's Day window - thinking about birds and nests, flight and safety, memories of things we leave behind on the journeys that we take and things that hatch after careful tending. 

There's something about simple repetitive tasks that lend themselves to such meditations.  Over the weekend, in addition to winding yarn, I've been winding wire and making the sweet little wire bird's nests that we are incorporating into jewelry.  Sachi's planning a little tutorial over Mother's Day weekend so you can come in and make your own that Saturday.  She's been making necklaces and earrings; I've been enjoying the pairing of stamped charms with the sweet Vintaj bird charms and nests.  One of my favorites remains Sachi's little series of drawings - stones, twigs, birds... and nests of course.  There's something comforting about a nest, but there's also this tinge of nostalgia for all the moments that have passed.  Nest 004

a perfect knitting weekend

Knit 001 I know, April showers bring May flowers, and apparently we needed the rain.  I am enjoying the various colors of greens in the leaves starting to emerge, but a rainy morning sure makes it hard to get out of bed and go to work.  Luckily, there are some yummy colors awaiting me at the shop.  Pamela brought in her ball winder and swift to help the process along so we spent an enjoyable Saturday winding many of the yarns.  The colors are so gorgeous.  I still think I'd like to learn to crochet because it seems like it would be fun to make granny squares out of some of these ribbons and yarns.

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In the meantime, I decided to knit up a couple samples.  One ball of yarn won't make a sweater but I don't have the attention span to knit that anyway.  A nice narrow decorative scarf is just about my pace - two nights worth of movie-watching and then all that remains is to attach some colorful fringe.  Here's a close-up.  I'm using size 11 needles.  I love the feel of rayon as I knit and really enjoyed the many different colors.  Sometimes when I knit with a multi-colored yarn, it feels like it takes a while for the yarn to change from one color to the next and I end up feeling a little disappointed.  Not so with this one!

needleworks by Sachi

Friday 011 I don't quite know how she has the patience, but Sachi has been stitching away...  In addition to the popular cheese curd and cheesehead onesies, she's been getting carried away thinking of designs for the tea towels and aprons that we just received.  Here's the first design, which makes me nostalgic for those days of cooking cakes with light bulbs.  I guess there's still an Easy Bake Oven out there, except it is a microwave?  Somehow the design just doesn't look as charming as the one we grew up with.

it's all about the ribbon

well, not ALL... but mostly.  It's a little hard to focus on other things...  The table is full with hand-dyed yarns and ribbons that we received this week.  I've been slowly winding them out of skeins into more usable forms so we can cut yardage for everyone.  I'm totally in love with the ric rac.

Ribbon 003I've had a few late nights at home, watching good movies ("Departures" was the best of the lot this week) and winding, winding, winding.  Last night after a meeting, Pastor Tisha said to me, "just reading your status updates, I think, she sure is having a lot of fun with her life."  It's true.  There is something very satisfying about working with my hands on such a simple task.  There's a clear beginning and end, a definite improvement that I created.  Not to mention the enjoyment of watching the lovely colors slip through my fingers.  There's something meditative, and, dare I say it, kind of Zen about the whole thing.  Still, it will be good when Pamela brings in the ball winder and swift.

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I started thinking about things to do with all this ribbon.  When I ordered it, my first thought was about knitting.  And yes, a skein would be a gorgeous scarf...  I remembered that I've used such ribbon as fringe on knitted scarves - that's one way to use it in smaller amounts, and I'm still thinking about ribbon necklaces and bracelets.  But last night I was reminded that I have several lovely books from Ryland Peters and Small in my bookshelves. 

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Sachi and I love that publisher - the photos are always so lovely.  In fact, I have a book called Ribbon Details, which has tons of different ideas that have my head spinning even more.  They've sewn ribbon on the edges of blankets, pillowcases, napkins and placemats, used ribbon for garlands and displaying photos, trimming picture frames or lamp shades, wrapping presents, and so much more.  Sorry, we don't carry their books at the shop - Frugal Muse and Half Price books are usually where we find them...

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After my meeting last night I suddenly realized that Saver's was still open for another half hour so I quickly drove over there.  I've had a few thoughts rolling around in my head for altered clothing - namely to get more striped shirts and to get some denim skirts for the shop.  I think those will be fun with some patches of fabric.  I also want to get a photo shoot of the adorable girl in the arboretum wearing a fairy dress.  Since I'm not going to get her summer dress sewn in time to catch the flowering trees, I thought I'd find a shirt to add a tulle skirt to.  Now, the minute that I found out she was a girl, I ran out and bought a dress for her but I really don't let myself do a lot of shopping because I could so easily get carried away with cuteness.  I don't know why I keep forgetting the thrift store options.  But it's probably a fine thing.  As it is, my brother-in-law has to counterbalance the fluff with Carhart overalls (who knew they made those in baby sizes?!).  I don't think he has to worry too much about my influence (though she does already know about lipstick), but I did hold off on the little pink cheerleader skirt (it was at Saver's last night if you want it).

Anyway, I found a sundress with lilacs all over it, which will look great under a skirt of tulle... now all I need is the lilacs at the arb.  And I found this sweet little yellow dress.  I'm thinking that I will do a little ribbon embroidery of sorts.  I'll have to play around with it, but maybe a little free form cursive in a hand dyed ribbon?  maybe some ribbon flowers? I know that I won't have the patience for true silk ribbon embroidery, but I think I can figure something out.  Oh, there's so much fun to be had, it's hard to know where to start.Ribbon 008


bird & fleur, gifts for Moms

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Spring is well underway now and a few turns of the calendar pages bring us to May already.  How did that happen?  Not that I'm complaining, mind you.  Sachi and I will be heading out to the New York Stationery show in mid-May (Pamela will keep the shop open but on reduced hours).  We are excited about the possibilities of new cards, papers and crafting supplies to bring back to the shop.  Not to mention a few days of vacation in the Big Apple.... as much as you can see when you have a two year-old along.  I haven't been to New York City that often, mostly to attend trade shows that occur in January, May and August.  Let me tell you, of the three, May is my absolute favorite month.  It is so lovely - all nice and green and flowering, Fifth Avenue windows decked out for Mother's Day, not too hot, not too crowded, and pleasant for all the walking to be done.  The last time we went, Lily was 8 months old.  We had to make the taxi driver stop on the way to the airport because her tiger blankie was in the trunk and there was no other way to quiet the commotion.  We walked around the booths and looked at cards and tried to avoid getting drool on anything.  Then we spent an enjoyable afternoon in Union Square park - each of us taking turns running in to ABC Carpet and Home (you do NOT go in there with a baby!).  The farmer's market was going on so we sat in the sunshine.  Hopefully similar opportunities will present themselves this year (minus the loud crying).  We're hoping to check out Moomah Cafe and Tinsel Trading, and are always inspired by ABC Carpet and Home (thanks a lot Pamela, for introducing us to that particular decadence).

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Meanwhile, back at the shop, we are preparing for the onset of the various late spring events: Farmer's Market Saturdays, Cars on State Street, Mother's Day, Graduation, wedding season, Father's Day.  I just installed the next window.  Initially it was going to be all birds and flowers for Mother's Day (May 9th), but with graduation coming up so soon, the window kind of needed to do double-duty.  I went with a rough color theme of the terrace chairs - orange, green, yellow - and featured a corner of Madison mementos, along with a selection of goodies for Moms. 

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I love these sweet bird prints and cards (and find the magnets hilarious, if not exactly appropriate for Mother's Day).  And the hand printed dish towels are also a nice present - if you don't think Mom will mind.  We've also stocked up on some nice flowery pins from various Wisconsin artists. 

Although these particular necklaces are not locally made, they come from the hands of an artist in the southwest.  They feature delicate photographs of birds and other images.

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Sachi has kept busy making little bird nest charms for her popular necklaces, but we are also excited to be able to offer various jewelry-making elements.  Flat brass pieces can be stamped with your own personalized message, and the Jill Schwartz pieces are sure to be fun for necklaces and bracelets.  The huge order of hand-dyed yarns and ribbons is slowly being organized and rolled up into easier forms than skeins.  I'm thinking these ribbons and cords will be great to add into necklaces - like the sweet seam binding bows of Persimmons

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We have plenty of flowery options as well - resin flower rings made right here in Madison, and vintage & reproduction millinery flowers for sweet bouquets (or maybe incorporate them into your own pins/jewelry).  So many options.... now to decide what I'm going to do for my mom for Mother's Day!

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Ga 003It's here! It's here!  Just got a huge box from Great Adirondack- thank you Nick!  Ever since Floralegium left Madison and thoughts of Anthology have been underway, I have dreamed about this moment.   I LOVE hand-dyed anything and these yarns are ribbons are just to die for.  I can see how the rest of this week is going.  We got a gorgeous assortment - yarns, rayon ribbon, RIC RAC.  So yummy. 

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They come to us in skeins so this is going to take a little time to sort out.  We appreciate your patience!  You are welcome to come and ogle with us, but unless you are going to buy a whole skein, please be patient.  We are planning to sell most of these by the yard or in assortments.  Some would, of course, be lovely for knitting into decorative scarves, but I'm mostly thinking about these for pages in books, ribbon necklaces/bracelets, bookmarks and other embellishments. 

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sew sew

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So MUCH to sew sew sew...  Spring is here and I've got to get to work!  I have in my head, some very specific idea for a photo shoot involving the adorable girl and fairy wings and flowering trees in the arboretum.  I need to make her a little fairy outfit.  And the blueberry dress is getting small so I need to find the pattern so I can make the next season's dress.  I think I'm going with lilacs and pansies and lilies of the valley.  I set aside that fabric this morning for washing.  I can't think where the pattern has gotten to... lost in the shuffle of my parents' move.  It wasn't in the sewing studio B so I'll have to look tonight in studio A.  Cross your fingers for me.

In the meantime, I was sewing strips that Alison got started for me - batiks for artist pockets, brights for birthday crowns and crayon pockets.  And the batch in the picture - for headbands.  This week I'm switching the window but up until then, my headbands are still in the window, which always gives them a boost in sales.  I'm working 'til 7 tonight so I can get some ironing done and move on to the next phase of sewing.

crazy for cupcakes

We can't help ourselves.  Ever since we went back to the Frosted Cupcakery in Belmont Shore, California, we've had trouble with cravings.  Taste is all such a peculiar and particular and individual thing.  We haven't sampled nearly all the cupcake possibilities here in Madison, but nothing has quite come close to those California cupcakes.  Something about the consistency of the cake, the amount and consistency of the frosting.... Sigh.

In the meantime, in the interest of not completely overdoing it, there are other cupcake things to fill the cravings.  Not as tasty, but nonetheless fun.  These mini chipboard books were an item that we ordered while in California.Cupcake 001

Sachi made one into a mini album.  It's a nice way to combine photos and paper ephemera in a more 3-D format.  The simple ball-chain binding means you can add buttons, ticket stubs, paper flowers and not worry about how the book is going to close.

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Tomorrow we have a group of girls coming in to decorate chipboard books.  The cupcake is just one of several choices, but I thought I'd make a sample myself and I've been having fun painting with sparkling watercolors and making up whimsical cupcakes like the which came first cupcake or the i'll meet you in Paris with the best kind of cherry on top, the pretty please with sugar on top cupcake, and the when are we going back to Greece cupcake.  I like the look of the different colors of stripes that I painted for the bottom of the cupcakes.  A lot of the sparkling watercolors kind of sink in to the chipboard pages but you still get some sparkle and color.  I can't wait to see what tomorrow's birthday party comes up with.  Everyone always has their own particular spin on a project.Cupcake 003


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Every once in a while, we luck out and someone brings in a pile of goodies for us.  Maybe they are moving and don't have room in the truck, maybe they've decided to move on to some other project or make space for other things.  Either way, we are happy when they think of us.  Donations are always welcome.  In fact, donations account for a large part of our merchandising approach (almost all of our dressers come from other people's garages and basements, for one thing).  We are getting ready for our studio garage sale in July (during Maxwell Street Days with our Absolutely Art co-host) and taking the opportunity to clean out our own studios.  You can buy a $2, $5 or $10 bag and fill it up with half-used tubes of paint, paper and fabric scraps, how-to books, beads, you name it.  It might be a little hodge-podge but it's a chance to find something for a project.  Furthermore, all the money from the garage sale will be donated to local arts nonprofits.  We feel strongly about getting art supplies back into circulation/use and also supporting the many arts programs that provide creative energy to the area.

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Sometimes we are able to make things into paper packs for people to purchase at the store, other times we incorporate them into craft table activities.  The pile of encyclopedias is useful for pedestals around the store, and also for the altered books workshop.  Two not-so-recent donations have an assortment of vintage goodies.  I couldn't resist putting together the little assortment above.  I don't have any particular feeling of nostalgia for the Domes of Silence, but that little box of gummed stars brought back memories, as well as that lambie card.  The cards of hooks and pins conjure up memories of Mother's sewing box.  Less distant memories (of college card games) were elicited by the classic bicycle cards.

Nostalgia 002I'm still not at all sure what to do with this box of threads.  They were in someone's basement in a box of other sewing notions including zillions of scissors that are tempting to just hang up on the wall if they didn't look too creepy (think Edward Scissorhands).  Sachi's been incorporating the vintage buttons into her necklaces.  Aren't all those colors, just like that, are very appealing.  Maybe just set it in some resin?  How about you? What items conjure up your own nostalgias?