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May 2010
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July 2010

let's see, where was I?

Now the days are completely turned around.  Sachi & Co. are on a little vacation so I was on my own for a few days... Well, as much as one can be alone considering that Pamela and Mom are keeping me company, as are many customers.  I was off on Sunday (my usual day to work) and then worked on Monday afternoon to close (my usual day off).

I did get a "real" weekend day on Sunday though so that was lovely.  Usually Mondays are filled with errands and other things.  On Sunday, Dad and I went to the Spring Green Art Fair, ate lunch out in Mazomanie and then in the evening I went on a bike ride and then ate Chinese for dinner.  It was such a nice day.  Although there was a lot of art at the art fair that wasn't too interesting to me, there were just enough things to inspire me, and even one possible new artist for the shop. 

Now it's Wednesday.  Sachi is coming back.  What is normally my second day of work is now my third, potentially of 7.  We still haven't decided about being open on the 4th of July.  It's tricky.  We are such a new business still (relatively) that I feel like being closed misses opportunities to introduce ourselves to people. Then again, being open all the time is a little tiring.  What to do, what to do.

Without Sachi around, yesterday was kind of a long day.  Usually I get to hide in the office for part of the day.  Luckily, things brightened up in the afternoon.  In the morning, there was lots of enthusiasm but not a lot of purchasing.  Now, I honestly don't expect everyone who walks through the door to like the store, let alone make a purchase, but as a wise woman I know said, "If compliments could pay bills small shop owners would be loaded but alas it does not.Thankfully, before I could wallow too long in the lack of purchasing, several friends arrived for visiting, I got to show off pictures of the adorable girl,I had some enthusiastic purchasers, and I started making paper packs.  Cutting up paper to sort and put into packs is one of my favorite fall-back tasks.

I also started looking at the computer for the list of everything that I have sold since we've been open - an exercise which is both comforting and panic-inducing.  I spent about 10 years making things with the expectation that I would have a store to sell them in... now many of those things are gone in 2 years.  Yeah, not a bad problem to have. And, of course, I don't have to make 2 years worth of product just this minute, but there are certain items that I really do need to focus on.  Perhaps if I write it enough times, it will become truth?  One can only hope.  Magnet picture frames are the tippy top of the list.  I've sold 401 to date and sales always diminish when I let the supply dwindle (as it is now) so I really really need to get to work on those.

What have I been doing instead?  Working on an altered book, thinking about stocking our booth at the Creative Connection Event in Minnesota (in September), ironing skirt fabric, gathering collage materials for my Valley Ridge workshop, taking photographs, organizing the fabric studio, sorting fabric scraps, reading. 

Our Maxwell Street Days studio garage sale will be here in a few weeks so I've been sorting through fabric and other pieces in my own studio and gathering things to put outside.  It's always hard, as an artist, you think, "oh, but maybe I could use that!"  - that is a quality of most artists that I know, the ability to see potential in the most mundane of items.  But when you have several lifetimes worth of supplies, it's time to set some of it free, at least that's how I've been feeling.

I can hear that the UPS truck just pulled up outside so hopefully I will have some pictures for you soon, but for now I'll leave you with my fallback, the adorable girl...  Here she is in her purple dress that I made earlier this spring.  After a flurry of dresses for the girl, I am now working on several skirts for myself.  If I had a serger to finish the edges, and if I could get the production time down, I could make some for the store, but the reality is that they will probably be just for me.  Each skirt is an assortment of fabrics and quite lovely, if I do say so myself, but at four yards of fabric each, it's getting kind of pricey, and that's just the supplies, not including my time.  I'm reminded of what I don't like about sewing clothes. Still, it will be nice to have some new skirts and it does feel good to use up some fabric (even though it barely makes a dent in the supply).  I didn't get too carried away.  Well, I did, in that there is fabric for five skirts waiting, but there is not an exact match to any of the girl's  dresses - so no matching Auntie/Lily outfits, though there are some close coordinates, truth be told.  Then again, I'd have to actually catch her still for a photo shoot and that is proving more and more difficult.

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Ok, here's one of few annoying things about the internet.  Unless you are really paying attention, it is hard to remember where exactly you were in cyberspace when you saw that thing that you were going to try to remember to share with other people.  I'm trying to retrace my steps...

Oh wait!  I found it!  Thanks browser history.  Mary Anne Radmacher.  There we go.  I have a collection of her quotations on little calling cards and I was double-checking something for a whiny blog post which I might just not post.

In any event, she was talking about her thoughts on a soundtrack for her life.  Do you ever wonder what the songs would be?  If there were a movie for your life or something?  Sometimes, there are certain moments when I think, "such-and-such a song would be a perfect soundtrack for this moment."  Well, she was specifically trying to exercise some more and had come up with a list of five songs that totaled up to 20 minutes of brisk walking, but were also kind of life-soundtrack in nature. 

Her five were: Wide Open Spaces, This Kiss, 100 Years, We Built This City, Unwritten.

Now, I have to confess, that I am definitely a child of the 80s and disco when it comes to music, which you'll see soon enough.  And I also have to confess that I don't really pay attention to lyrics when I listen to music so that even though I am picking these songs as my walking life soundtrack, they might be telling you something that I wasn't intending to say.

Recently I got an iPod nano with similar goals in mind (that, and the promise of taking video of the adorable girl).  I need to do a little editing - I just loaded a whole bunch of playlists - the theory is that the songs will be mostly on the livelier end of things so that when I am walking from place to place I will actually get a little exercise in.  I've just kept it on shuffle for now and as I was walking across the Square, first came "Life of Riley" by the Lightning Seeds and then "Rich Girl" by Gwen Stefani. And I thought, "oh, here is my life soundtrack for walking!"  It didn't quite hold out on the length of my walk.

I'll stick with the two that the iPod randomly brought me first (not so random since I loaded them myself) and add "Short Skirt/Long Jacket" Cake, "Into the Groove" Madonna, "Tell Me When" Human League, "Bizarre Love Triangle" New Order, "Funhouse" Pink (I'm sorry.  "This used to be a funhouse but now it's filled with evil clowns"?  I love that line), "Too Many People" Pet Shop Boys, "Hey Soul Sister" Train... and hope you don't judge me too harshly for my taste or counting ability.  Golly, it's hard to stop.  Now you can see how I end up making 5 mix CDs when only one is requested.  Also Fairground" Simply Red, "Movin' On Up" M People, "Makes Me Wonder" Maroon 5, "Breakin' Up" Rilo Kiley, "Better Luck" Scissor Sisters, "Holiday in my Head" Smashmouth, "You Don't Have to Believe Me" Eric Hutchinson,

What are your five (or ten)?  Not just for your life, but for your walking (biking/dancing/running/active) life.

arrivals Thursday (and prior)

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I thought I was keeping up to date on recent arrivals but as I look around the store, it seems like there are many that I haven't mentioned.  Hopefully you can stop in and see for yourself soon.  The store is looking quite full, but we don't like to limit ourselves.  Several customers have commented that they need at least two trips around the store to see it all.

You can probably tell that we went to the Stationery Show.  There's plenty of new papergoods in store - matchbook-style mini notebooks, wrapping paper, stationery folios, notecards galore.

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I'm not really a fan of chickens (alive or as a design element), but I couldn't resist these chicken notecards.

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We're also getting deliveries from various consignment artists, including these new notecards from a Madison artist.  The strawberry is just about my favorite image.

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As far as jewelry goes, we've been busy making up more necklaces and earrings from our fun assortment: vintage keys, enamel from Duluth, glass flower beads, brass from Galena...  We also received some lovely soldered pendants with, surprise!, bird and nest images.

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Happily, Urban Outfitters has some great fixtures for necklaces so we were able to expand our display space as well.  I'm still preoccupied with birds and nests and really enjoy the pairing of these great enamel pieces.

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And we've received a full assortment of alphabet charms from the Jill Schwartz collection so you can make personalized charm necklaces and bracelets.

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Now that the kids are off of school for the summer, and especially if these rainy days continue, you might consider booking a craft party.  We also have an assortment of kids' crafty supplies - like our tubes of crayons or recycled newspaper colored pencils, and these fun stitch-it kits.

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I recently installed a new window with some fun garlands using our transparencies and other patterned papers.  And now I've spent about two days cutting triangles and making an assortment for your own garland-making endeavors.

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Other crafty goodness includes die-cut pieces and stickers for scrapbooking and card-making and collaging, more colors of stamp pads, rubber stamps with clever designs for Paris, New York and San Francisco.  Or, if journaling is more your style, there are plenty of repurposed book journals to choose from.

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If type is more your thing, we've got new typewriting rings from Madison, and hand-stamped bracelets from Oshkosh.

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Oh, and did I mention we have Hello Kitty Re-Ment?

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Halloween.... in June?

Mermaid 006I know, I know, it's rather early in the year to be talking about Halloween at all, though if Christmas is in July as some retailers would like you start thinking, then it's really not that early at all.

I'm thinking about the topic because last night I was working in my studio in my parents' basement.  There was some water damage during all the storms that we've been having and it seemed like high time to start dealing with the rest of the boxes from the move (a little under a year ago).  As I unpacked and reorganized, I stumbled across many unfinished projects and leftover scraps, good intentions, bad mistakes... 

But I was also happy to be reminded of my Halloween costume - oh, it must have been at least 10 years ago by now and it was probably the most energy that I've ever put into a costume.  That was a fun trip down memory lane but then recent Facebook conversations about sparkling parties and blue moon cookies and it just made me think about sharing this outfit.

Mermaid 003The first item that I stumbled across was this little purse.  I'll confess that I was lazy and almost all of the pieces in my costume are attached with glue (as opposed to being stitched on). The purse is covered with paillettes, one of my favorite words and items in the world of embellishment.  I think I was first formally introduced to them in an Anthropologie catalog. They were all over a pair of pants, which would have been awesome for dancing in.  That made me aware of these little doo-dads, which usually (as I understand it) have a hole in the top, instead of in the middle like sequins.  They are just as shiny but are more dangly.

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The purse is still filled with all the essentials, including green lipstick and eye shadow, some transparent confetti that looks like fish scales, and a seaweed tangle of beaded bracelets and a ribbon necklace.  There is a tangled long green wig too which I should have carefully wrapped back up at the end of the night.  I'm not sure I can salvage it, except perhaps for some sort of Medusa costume.

Mermaid 007The second item that I stumbled across was a ziploc baggie filled with an assortment of chiffons and satins and charmeuses in various shades of blues and greens and purples.  Ah yes, I see how I got so carried away on this costume given that these are my all-time favorite colors.

Naturally I left my camera at the store yesterday so I couldn't take pictures of the pieces hanging in my closet.  But I'll go one better and share the picture from the party.


I found strappy silver shoes and turquoise nail polish... oh, and little blown glass seahorse Christmas ornaments for my earrings.  The outfit itself is three pieces: a black top with paillettes glued all over it, a silver slip with fish-scale shapes of shiny and sheer fabrics glued all over it, and a pretty awesome (if I do say so myself) tail train.  It kind of ties around your waist the way a cape ties around your neck if that makes sense.  It is composed of another assortment of shiny aqua and purple fabrics and has a rough fish-tail shape flare at the end.  What do you think BEA?



window Tuesday

Windowtuesday 001Well, here's how it started out - the window that Sachi installed earlier in the month to show off the assortment of vintage inspiration.  After about three weeks, it's time to change it to something else.

Step two is to clear the window, vacuum out the dead bugs, change any lightbulbs.  I'll spare you a picture of that stage.

Step three is to try and narrow my focus just a little bit.  I had a very long list of possible elements for this window - paper packs, notecards, prints, jewelry, wrapping paper...  We are into tourist season now so we are getting a lot of people who are seeing us for the first time, or who were last in about a year ago.  I try to make the window tempting, to give some sample of what the store is like inside, as well as to feature favorites or best-sellers.  It's a lot to ask of this little space.

I spent much of Saturday cutting triangles to make garlands.  Although I was tempted to just sew all the triangles together, that would have meant scheduling a night at the sewing machine.  Instead I simply punched holes and threaded them onto ribbon.  All of these papers are available at Anthology by the sheet. We were trying to find a way to show off the great transparencies that we got from the California show.  They would be nice as overlays on notecards or wrapped around a glass votive holder but we collaborated with our upstairs neighbor to hit upon the garland idea.  She made some for a French-themed shower that she was throwing and I loved the way they looked so much that I wanted to make some here as examples.  The transparencies look especially nice in the window - I like the way they let the light through.  I continue to have trouble taking pictures of our windows.  The angle from the outside means that there's quite a reflection, and of course, from the inside, everything is backlit.  And I did get a little carried away taking pictures of the garlands, but I quite enjoy them.


After much deliberation, the overall theme of the window is... I don't know... coral/aqua summer colors? celebration? new arrivals?  I had various bird and Paris themes in mind but those were going to be a little more on the pastel side - themes that got set aside for the moment when we received the French cards and some new lovely prints.  So it is a bit of a mix and there isn't much white space, but people might as well know right up front what they are in for. 

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I know that it does limit the depth of the window, but I do love using our clothesline just up against the glass to show off various goodies - this time it is prints from Portland and Minneapolis, notecards, various scrapbook supplies including paper and notions.

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And here's the window from the side and inside.  I decided to hang the Nikki prints along the edge because they read really well from a distance.  Because of the reflection and the small size of many of our products, it can be hard for passerby to "read" the window.  I enjoyed unfurling some pieces of our washi paper to hang along the side wall.  And it was fun to incorporate the portable writing desk that was made by our great grandfather.  There's a note inside: 

My mom used it for ages for notecards and such; it was only after she gave it to us to bring to the shop that I noticed the note.  I love its foretelling.

Hello, Kitty

HK 003It's here! It's here!  We just received our shipment of Hello Kitty Re-Ment.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with Re-Ment, these are little boxes of plastic toy foods (good for dollhouses or Barbie or Blythe...or just endless collecting, rearranging and photographing - don't believe me? search "re-ment" on

There are two different series, both involving food and kitchen utensils in the shape of Hello Kitty, or with her face on it.  Pictured above is the set that Sachi opened for display.  How cute is that?  It's a little apple tart - the Hello Kitty lattice lifts off to reveal the apples underneath.  And I love that little face peeking up out of the tea pot.

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The idea is that you are supposed to collect and trade these and they are packaged as a surprise.   The Japanese seem to do this often.  I think it is an interesting contrast to some of the precision and control in other aspects of their culture.  You won't know for sure what is in the box that you pick - the options are pictured along the side of the box.  I know, it's tough especially for a control freak like myself but there's also that element of surprise that's kind of fun.  Anyway, how can you really go wrong?  There's always the opportunity to get more friends involved in the fun and do some trading, or else use your duplicates in some kind of jewelry project (I keep thinking someday I will make a charm bracelet of mini foods).

HK 004I am no expert, but I will advise you that the most effective approach seems to be placing your energy on what you WANT, rather than what you don't want.  It didn't work for a certain Crestwood student and the chocolate fountain that she wanted so much, but it did work for a group of girls who all wanted a particular style of cupcake.  They stood at our cash register and chanted "cupcake cupcake cupcake" and ended up with three boxes of the cupcakes that they wanted.  I'm not making any promises, but after witnessing countless customers opening boxes, it does seem to me that there's a higher rate of success when someone identifies the top three that they'd like (rather than indicating the ones they don't want).

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arrivals Friday

Friday 002I know, I know, I just posted arrivals yesterday.  But it is only fair that you share in my experience.  I'm feeling rather scatterbrained and have no idea quite where to begin.  I've got about four different window ideas flying around in my head.  I have to remember that there is plenty of time across the summertime to go through all the window options, but I want to do it all right now!  So, is it going to be pastel or bright? Paris? birds? contemporary? romantic?

As if it wasn't bad enough, today we received a few more boxes of lovelies.  Well, two boxes of cards arrived yesterday but it took 'til today to unpack them: notecards from the illustrator in NYC who is also the artistic director at Moomah, which we love.  and notecards from an artist in Canada who makes collages using magazine pieces and then makes prints of them.

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And then, this box came in from New York...  so sweet! 

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sew sew

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Oh honestly, why do I bother? It's just that I go to the fabric store and see the lovely fabrics like Amy Butler's oversize purple flower on mint green... and I can't resist!  How many pieces of fabric do I have at home from just such shopping outings?  Let's not count them.  I guess it has been long enough since I did any clothes sewing that I've blocked out all the bad memories and I casually took on the task of making a couple wrap skirts for myself for this summer. 

Picking out fabric is always fun, and I've washed one huge load of fabric for about three different skirts.  Ironing is almost done... now all that remains is sewing them together.  This is my first skirt, the prototype such as it is.  Hopefully it isn't the one and only.  Perhaps if I work on a few at a time, the assembly-line approach will make things less painful.  It's tricky too that there's not much floor space in my studio.  Makes it hard to lay the fabric down on the floor and cut out the pattern.

Although the pattern that I have doesn't have much in the way of panels (four total), I had more and smaller pieces of fabric that I wanted to use.  I sewed them together and then cut the pattern from that.  It means there are some pieces that are a little wonky as far as a real dressmaker would be concerned but I think it will do for my purposes.

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I appreciate a skirt with lining but feel like that is kind of a waste of time if you can't see it at all, so I decided to go with a two-layer skirt; the underskirt is slightly longer than the overskirt.  I did manage to use up pieces of fabric from my stash for the underskirt so that's something.  As evidence of my many failed dressmaking attempts, the periwinkle blue fabric with flowers (in the underskirt) is something that I had already made into a dress, except I was combining two patterns unsuccessfully and was having trouble with the fit of the dress.  I just cut the skirt pattern out of the dress (so, once again, there are some funny seams).

Sigh, it always seems to take so much yardage to make clothing.  I can't just make do with my little quarter-yard pieces that I get for quilting and headbands.  At least now I have plenty of things to do with scraps of fabric, but the strangely shaped scraps that are generated from sewing clothes are always a little irritating to me.  Nothing quite so neat as all the strips I get with quilting. 

On a good note, I am quite fond of my skirt!  I petered out last night and instead of making a wrap skirt (which will require sewing a waistband), I think I'm going to get a wide band of elastic and just sew it on - thank goodness the rules for clothing have relaxed so much... but I will hem the skirt, don't worry.

Here's a close-up of the hem as it is right now.  Perhaps you can see that the underskirt is made up of two different fabrics: the failed dress of periwinkle blue, and purple polka dots.  The overskirt has a total of 6 different fabrics.  After I attach the elastic waistband, the hem is clearly in need of a little trimming and evening up.  I like an a-line skirt, but will have one more opportunity to regret this pattern when I'm hemming - two layers of an a-line... that's a lot to hem... sigh.

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artists at work: Rustbelt Fiberwerks


I'm trying to remember the first time that I saw Leah's work.  Somewhere in Milwaukee - either at Art Vs. Craft or at Paper Boat.  Either way, it was something I was eyeing for a while, just trying to make up my mind which piece I liked the best.  I love the combination of screen-printing and repurposed fabrics.  So I was pretty happy when I got an email from Leah inquiring about consignment at Anthology.  Her full aprons, napkins and placemats are great housewarming gifts.


What inspires you to make what you do?

Dozens of things! It can be anything from a found scrap of fabric to an odd button. The materials I collect really dictate what the finished piece will be.

What’s an average studio day/session like?

Generally I get up early, do a little movement (yoga, cycling, walking, etc.) to help get my brain going. I find that I am much more focused and able to tackle my day that way. Next it is straight to the studio. Most days I start working around 9:30 and work through until lunch around noon. After lunch I head back down to the shop and work until about four. By that time my brain is on overload and I am ready for a break!  At the end of the day I get everything prepped for the following day. 


Where is your studio?  What does it look like?

I have an ideal studio arrangement. My husband and I have a duplex. We live upstairs and my studio the whole downstairs apartment. We converted the kitchen into a washout station, the back bedroom into a darkroom, the living room into my sewing area and the dining room into my print room. It is wonderful! Especially in the winter when you don’t want to trudge through piles of snow I just walk down a flight of stairs and am at work. 


Sprayer and screen

What supplies are in your studio? How is everything organized?

Most of the materials in my studio are either related to screen-printing or sewing. I have all my notions and other supplies organized in clear plastic bins so I can both keep them corralled and see what is there. All of my fabric is organized by color and stacked neatly on open shelving. I find it really helpful to be able to see what I have. That way you don’t lose touch with your workspace. 


Orange segments printing

Do you have some favorite crafty websites/blogs that you'd recommend?

My two favorite blogs to read are Design Sponge and (, CakeSpy ( I can waste hours on them!

Thanks so much Leah!