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fun with thrift store purchases

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What's your favorite thrift store project?  Well, there's really no end to the fun that can come from thrift store purchases.  I'm referring, today, to the assortment of striped shirts and denim skirts that I got on my last trip to Goodwill.  The denim skirts make me wish I had one of my own.  But the fitting room mirror was not kind.  Think I'd better stick to my a-lines and aprons.  Well, that's all the more for someone else. 

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I've ironed on an assortment of fabric patches - gotta love Heat N' Bond, and am now doing a little stitching around the edges.  I have one shirt in red and white stripes but I think that navy and white with red florals is my all-time favorite.  I still need to make one for myself that goes with my cherry skirt.

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Oh, and then there's this sweet dress that I got from Saver's.  Thankfully I have another year before it fits the adorable girl.  I wanted to experiment with our hand-dyed ribbony yarns and hit upon this great idea - great in theory, we'll see how it works in practice.  The hem is going to say "you are my sunshine, my only sunshine..."  And yes, this is only as far as I've gotten.  I lay the ribbon down in the rough shape of the letter but can only stitch a few stitches before I have to rearrange.  I'm sure there is a more efficient approach but for now, I'm enjoying the hand work.  Even though there is some extent that making something is making something, this is a nice, quiet activity that I seem to need right now.  I never really got a rest after NY and there was a little bout of flu, which seems now to be followed by a little bout of a cold (or maybe allergies given all the cottonwood seeds that are floating by).  It's nice just to sit and stitch. Altered 006

artists at work: Project Girl

Emily Keown is another artist whose work we carry at Anthology.  She is a woman of many talents and I have no clue how she finds time to do all the jobs that she does and cook great dishes for her tall husband.  Initially I contacted her for a personal studio tour and interview of her approach to making art.  I didn't expect a quick response because I know she is busy with Project Girl summer groups.... and then it occurred to me that Project Girl would be something just as inspiring to share with you.  I think both Sachi and I feel fortunate that our creativity and independence was nurtured here in Madison and it is great to see programs supporting creativity and independence in others.  So, for now, we'll start with Project Girl, and when Emily has a chance, we'll hear more from her studio as well.

What inspires you to make what you do?

Working with Project Girl is a calling; working with the girls and leaders of Project Girl inspires so much of how I live.  As a middle and high school girl I would have loved to be apart of something like Project Girl.  Developing an understanding of media literacy is important for all girls and woman in this contemporary culture that is full of images telling us how to be and who to be.  Creativity, Confidence and Critical Thinking are some of the most important skills for women today!

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What’s an average session like?

Project Girl is girl led, so we start off by talking about issues that face the girls in their day to day lives: Basic media literacy concepts, examining stereotypes and labels, body image, sisterhood, consumerism, and true girl power. We look at images, media, and art and then decide what message we want to share with the world.  And from there the girls create art with a message and develop artist statements.


Groups are held across the country, here in Madison, WI we have 3 summer groups for Project Girl, 2 will be happening on Edgewood’s College campus, and the third is going to be held at the Catholic Multi-Cultural Center on Park St. And stepping into the space where a Project Girl group is you will see girls expressing themselves, expressing their opinions, and listening/learning to others opinions.


What supplies are in your studio? What’s your favorite storage/organization gadget or tip?

So my favorite material is Mod Podge! I love it is a great supply to have in your studio.  Lots of magazines, pink insulation foam, colored paper, plaster, paint, and everything I can get donated!  As for storage, I’m still trying to get enough clear plastic containers together, my husband hopes I get some soon, cause supplies are sprawling.


Do you have some favorite crafty websites/blogs that you'd recommend?  She has a fun blog and some great project girl work!  Project girl in boulder, co  Girls rocking out!  Let’s make sure the “f” word isn’t a dirty word!


Any other thoughts you'd like to share?

You can learn more about Project Girl at my blog

Or at the website

We are always looking for girls, groups, women, men; everyone is welcome to get involved.  We do group training, one-day workshops, whatever! We need supplies, places to show our work and people to spread the word.  And if you are interested in sponsoring a scholarship let us know!

never enough nests, apparently

Nest 007I guess it's an obsession, one that I do take breaks from occasionally.  But this week I found a new batch of the faceted aqua beads (at JoAnn Fabrics of all places).  I had kind of run out of enamel that coordinated with the birds' nests made from freshwater pearls, but now I have a whole new assortment to choose from.  I've been hoarding these two enamel pieces because they are such a lovely color.  And don't they look nice with the Vintaj brass bird?Nest

cuteness for the girl

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Yeah, that's right, I got carried away.  I can't help myself.  I've been so good about not shopping for little girl clothes but just a few minutes in the studio quickly leads to several dresses in the works.  There's so much fabric to choose from.  It's nice at this stage, because I can use many of the pieces that I have - as opposed to grown-up dresses which usually require more yardage.  I do really like this pattern from Portobellapixie.  I know, I've said that before.  It was definitely easier to cut out three dresses at once (although I regretted that approach once it was time to thread the elastic along the hem.  And I think I said that in a previous post so you know I really did regret it).  Still, I'm happy with the results, and pleased to be able to find another use for those sweet vintage hankies. Lilacdrses 002

arrivals Tuesday

Wednes 002I have this brief inkling that I could be systematic like other bloggers I see who have the specific themes or topics for specific days of the week - like featuring other artists on Fridays, blogs on Mondays, Flickr sets on Wednesdays.  I probably won't make it.  But at least this Tuesday will be arrivals Tuesday, seeing as UPS brought us a big box from one of our distributors (an awesome system because we get to dabble in supplies and books from zillions of different vendors, without having to reach each individual minimum order).   
Wednes 004There's a huge stack of books, including the Freeform Crochet book which so intrigues me even though I have yet to successfully enter the world of crochet.  It's tempting.  Maybe I need to take a trip to Aunt Cindy in Michigan for a tutorial.  I think I can trade a couple days of studio organizing services for room & board & lessons.  Right?    

And even though the weather is summery, there were a number of sweet felt animal books that I couldn't resist, and how adorable is Felting for Baby?! 

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We've restocked our alphabet stamp sets and got silver shimmer Mod Podge, and more Crystal Lacquer as well for everyone who is planning bottlecap projects for their summer vacation.  AND, this fun thing!  It's a loom for making ribbon and yarn flowers and I'm eager to try it on our hand-dyed ribbons. 

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Although it doesn't count as something that arrived today, I got a phone call this morning from someone with a charming French accent (aren't those fun calls to get?) verifying our order.  The implication was that the box of French notecards that is my current raison d'etre will soon be on its way.

And finally, an arrival from yesterday which I already posted on Facebook to much applause so I'll share it with you here as well.  This arrived in our box from Portland.  I couldn't resist and kind of had Sachi in mind - it would be a pretty fun picture of the two us in these shirts...  Is it ok that I haven't used a rolling pin in ages?  Anyway, we have two in stock at the moment (one in small and one in medium) but I'll certainly be ordering more and you can request to be placed on our wish list.Wednes 007

fun with Jill

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Well, that was a hit.  Since we received those lovely Jill Schwartz jewelry elements, I made some up into necklaces because I couldn't resist using them myself, and to show people what the options are.  I think I sold as many finished necklaces as pieces so there was some restocking to be done.  I'm slowly recovering my energy after the trip to NYC (and the few following days of what I think was the flu).  Still, after moping around for most of today, Sachi's energetic nest-making rubbed off on me and I managed to get pretty far.  Jill 002

Once I started picking out Jill pieces, it was hard to stop, so I ended up finishing about 10 necklaces, which is pretty good for a day's work.  It is so much fun to work with the ribbons and various charms.  This weekend the table will still be filled with all the possibilities.  We hope you'll stop in and be inspired! Jill 003

summertime fun

Sprinkler 003While Sachi was having a busy day of unpacking boxes at the shop, my Monday included the usual - some time studio cleaning, some time running errands (including a very successful stop for beads at JoAnn Fabrics of all places), lunch in good company, and a little time chasing around after the adorable girl.  Mimi got out the sprinkler so we could cool off a bit, and then we spent the rest of the afternoon playing with fabric in the basement.  I can get a lot of work done (picking out fabric for some new wrap skirts) while she puts layers and layers of fabric "blanklets" on the dolls.

It was so hot!  Phew!  It was actually nice just walking around outside and cool enough in the shade, but moving from overheated cars into supercooled stores was not that fun.  Still, the summer weather inspired me, as did the beads from JoAnns, and I spent the evening making a chunky red and turquoise necklace.  Being me, I have to add just one more thing... probably a strand of chunky pearls as well. 

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busy Monday

Sprinkler 013Sachi had a busy day of shipment on Monday.  The sudden demand for Nikki McClure posters (after I put them in the window) required restocking and we just received out big box from Portland.  Besides prints, we have a selection of her cards to choose from as well.  The gravity print is one of my favorites, perhaps the first piece of hers that I purchased.  For some reason, it makes me think of Antoine de Saint-Exupery, sitting in the desert after a plane crash, looking up at the stars and feeling as if he could so easily lose his grasp on the earth beneath him.  At least I'm pretty sure I'm not imagining that moment from his book Wind, Sand and Stars.

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In what is surely the fastest shipment on record, we also received an order that we placed 7 days ago in New York.  This is a sweet UK company with cards and wrapping paper.  Sachi was initially attracted to a card with little animals in their underground homes, but she also purchased an assortment of wrapping papers from British museum collections and other sources.  Winnie the Pooh holds a special place in my heart (Classic, not Disney - what were they thinking? I'm still a little bitter about that whole thing).  Sprinkler 016Sprinkler 018Sprinkler 019

And just when she finished reorganizing the wrapping paper to make room, a delivery of paper from Chicago came in which means there are plenty of new designs to choose from for your summer birthday present wrapping needs.

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And then, even though it doesn't really fit with the charming British illustrations of animals, I couldn't resist this card, Action Figure Set, from the Victoria & Albert Museum.  Tee hee.

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altered book in the works

Well, this is pretty early in the game, but since I'm enjoying Emily Kircher's before and after pictures of her crocheted rugs so I'm inspired to follow her lead.  This isn't a store project, but an altered book for the book guild that I am a member of (The Bone Folders' Guild).  We are planning an exhibit during the Wisconsin Book Festival.  The title of our exhibit is "Unspoken Beliefs: Between the Lines," or something like that.  After various failed efforts, I have finally settled on the altered bHandbook 002ook as my specialty.  I have neither the patience nor the precision to start from scratch on sewn book structures.  It just doesn't end well.  There are challenges in working in an altered book (right now the most annoying challenge is that you can't paint all the pages at once and have to wait for paint to dry before you turn a page.  It slows me down but perhaps that's just fine). 

So, from the beginning, I knew I would be making an altered book.  But about what?  Hmm.  I started an altered book in a Valley Ridge Art Workshop with Juliana Coles and there was one page in particular that I was quite proud of, which was a palm reading using found text; silver hand print on a black background (see my favorite page).  So that was my rough starting point.  Initially I was thinking about a book with a series of different collages with various beliefs - astrology, palmistry, tarot.  In the end, it seemed like there were too many different things going on so I'm going to just do a series of palm readings.  Kind of a rough autobiography.  Of sorts. Each pair of hands will roughly depict a decade, or even a day, with one hand showing what is and the other showing what will be, or at least what I thought would be at that particular moment.  I was going to use my own hands on every page but now I'm toying with the idea of different hands through the ages (just an excuse to get Lily's handprint...).


Handbook 001After deciding on the theme (or sometimes a little before or during), the next step is to pick out a book.  I have several stacks of books awaiting delivery to Frugal Muse so I just dug through the stack - looking for a hardcover book that was relatively thin.  I would be removing several pages but I also didn't feel like using a thick book.  I came across a gift book that was square (a palm print will mostly fill each page).  Then some of the pages need to be removed.  Luckily this book was sewn so it was easy to remove a complete page (you know how you rip a page out of a catalog and another one falls out somewhere else?  I needed both sides of the piece of paper to come out at once so pages won't fall out later).  Then I glued the remaining pages together as pairs so they are more sturdy. 

So that the book has a somewhat cohesive look, I'm starting out with the same approach to the background of all the pages: some tape and tissue and paper for texture and pattern, then an overlay of dark blue paint, with some green.  I thought I'd have a timeline of sorts running through the whole book so I'm adding a thick stripe of gesso running through each page. 

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I was able to do all the texturizing in one sitting, but I've had to focus on painting just one pair of pages at a time.  I'm sure that I'll be adding collage elements on top at the very end, probably using melted wax, so there will be some variety from one page to the next, and not just from the text.  For now I'm just playing around a little  bit with paint on the page, knowing that all I'm doing is creating background so not getting too worked up in the precise design of each page.Handbook 005

The next step is to do an overlay in black and then, while the paint is still wet, paint my hands with silver and make a palm print.  The last time that I did that, some of the black paint came up and revealed the layers underneath.  I believe that, perhaps only subconsciously, the eye recognizes the many layers that go into a painting - even when things are covered up or barely visible, they are still a part of the piece.  

So that's phase one of the altered book.  I will be at this phase of painting pages for a little while now but will check back in when I have more progress to report.

coming events

I don't know about you, but my calendar sure starts to fill up quickly.  In the interest of reserving a little crafty space, here are just a few coming events to look forward to:

Friday, July 16th through Sunday, July 18th: Anthology & Absolutely Art, 218 State Street: Studio Garage Sale

Sunday, August 15th: Glitter Workshop, East Side Club, 3734 Monona Drive: Summer Craftacular 

Wednesday, September 15th through Saturday, September 18th: Hyatt Regency Minneapolis: The Creative Connection Event

Saturday, November 27th: Overture Center, 201 State Street: Holiday Craft Lounge 

Saturday, December 4th: Holiday Craftacular