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September 2010
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November 2010

yard signs

Is it strange how so often you find just the thing you need when you need it most?  I just got back from a neighborhood walk with Mom.  We passed the block with the yard signs for the opponents.  We didn't say anything.  Mom can get rather riled up when it comes to politics.  I go back and forth between anger, sadness, frustration, hope.  Feeling that people are being manipulated into actions that will not serve the greater good, let alone their own good.  Feeling sick about all the money that is going into advertising and fantasizing about how well the food pantries would be stocked if politicians bought votes with cans of food not tv spots.  Mostly feeling sadness about all this hatred being volleyed around.  Is that really how we want to live our lives?  Yelling at other people?  Blaming other people (usually not the right ones) for our sorrows and our fears?

I'm overusing the remote, switching channels before political ads get their 2 cents in.  In the morning, I listen to the radio for the weather report.  I was already considering a switch since they have so many plastic surgery ads (NOT what I want to start my day with).  This morning they were playing more of those generic political ads that attack the state of the world and place the blame on the Democrats.   Bye bye radio.  Maybe I'll just put Pet Shop Boys on timer and wake up to that.

I don't mean to be all Pollyanna and I know that it isn't really true that ignorance is bliss, but sometimes I feel like there is so much anger and fear being stirred up.  What if we just all did the little things that make our little world better... does that work at all?  What if we didn't act out of fear or self-interest, but trusted in the underlying good?  We have so much power to do so much good.

Anyway, it reminds me of Brian Andreas:  "I don't read the paper & I don't watch tv & people ask me how I stay up with what's going on & I tell them breathing seems to help & since I haven't done serious damage to anyone yet, they usually leave me alone."  I can't wait for November 3rd.

As usual, that's all tangential to the point of this post.  When we got back from our work, having carefully avoided the topic of politics, Mom handed me this postcard for an artist whose work is at the arboretum - amazing art quilts.  From her website, I went to her blog, and then my attention was caught by her blog list, which included a blog with the entry: "Creativity in the Face of Distress."  So I clicked over there, and was greeted with this quotation:

"Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark. 
In effect, the people who change our lives the most begin to 
sing to us while we are still in darkness. If we listen to 
their song, we will see the dawning of a new part of ourselves." Rabindranth Tagore

Oh my gosh, I absolutely love it!  I know that we can't all agree on everything and you need to have some dialog and some questioning and some challenging, but I hope so much for this world that we can find what is good and true and light and we can listen to the amazing songs that EVERYONE* has to sing.

*regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, favorite color, homeland, brand of toothpaste... and whatever else I left out.


Oh, and don't forget to vote on November 2nd!  We all have a voice, let us all be heard, not just the loud ones.



a crafty season like no other

Oh my goodness! Is there ever so much to do?!  It's getting to be the season of holiday shopping - may I recommend this year that you avoid the malls and the same old, same old that everyone else is doing?  Why not support some local, creative and independent artists who are, at this very moment, burning the midnight oil, working their fingers to the bone, etc, etc, for your shopping enjoyment.

In the interest of helping you plan for this season of gift-giving, I'm gathering here a list of crafty events.  Please do let me know of others - I'm quite sure that I'll forget more than one.



November 6th, 10 am - 3 pm. Craftamongous! Shorewood Elementary School, Madison.

November 13. The Crafty Fair. Goodman Community Center, Madison.

November 26th, 7 am - 4 pm. Pinque Friday Market.  Morey Airport, Middleton.

November 27th, 10 am - 3 pm.  Anthology's own Holiday Craft Lounge. Overture Center, Madison.  Shop and MAKE holiday gifts!

November 28th, 10 am - 4 pm. Close to Home. UW Arboretum, Madison.

December 2nd, 6 pm - 9 pm.  Nuit Blanche Market.  Morey Airport, Middleton.

December 11th, 10 am - 5 pm.  Craftacular.  East Side Club, Madison.

Farther Afield:

November 19th and 20th.  Handcrafted Hoedown for the Holidays.  Lapacek's Orchard, Poynette, Wisconsin.

November 20th, 11 am - 5 pm. Handmade for the Holidays.  Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

November 20th.  DIY Trunk show. Chicago, Illinois.

November 27th, 10 am - 6 pm. Art Vs. Craft. Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

December 2nd - 5th. One-of-a-Kind Show.  Chicago, Illinois.

December 4th and 5th, 11 am - 7 pm.  Renegade Craft Fair Holiday Sale.  Chicago, Illinois.




for the kiddos

Joke 001 Well, it took a little while, but I am happy to say that we have a nice assortment of goodies for the kiddos. Only took 'til our third Christmas season...  Sweater cats and crochet mushrooms are some of Lily's favorites.

And then, SHRINKY DINKS!  How happy are we?  These fun assortments come in a variety of theme packs: circus, wild west, and enchanted kingdom.  They are packed with line art images to trace and sheets of shrinky plastic.  There are even party packs that include invitations and party favors to make.

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Little bit of trivia that you might not know: Shrinky Dink plastic is MADE IN WISCONSIN!  The very first Shrinky Dinks were sold on October 17, 1973 at Brookfield Square Shopping Mall in Brookfield Wisconsin.

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Another excitement in the children's realm, in case you didn't hear me screaming earlier this week, is this book: The Secret Lives of Princesses.  It's a most charming book.  There are still many artful children's books in my personal collection which I would like to track down for the shop but we are slowly adding to the assortment. 

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I find that a lot of products made for children have packaging that is not so charming to me.  I believe that just because a child likes primary colors and does simple line drawings doesn't mean they can't appreciate more sophisticated illustrations.  Does it?  But these sets of stamps from France are not without charm, plus, who can resist pirate stamps?  New 028

We also have sets of crayons and recycled newspaper colored pencils, sets for drawing postcards, cute skirts for girls (made in Stoughton), fun storybook picture frames (made in Madison),

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Finally, we are pleased to carry the fun & creative products of Artterro, a Madison company that specializes in colorful assortments of crafty supplies for bookmaking, jewelry making, even bubble wands and wool felted pins. 

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In our family it is tradition to receive a jigsaw puzzle for Christmas and then Mom & I spend Christmas Day working on the puzzle.  But it would also be fun to have a craft project to work on...  And don't forget that we'll also have drop-in craft table activities in December, including make-your-own Christmas cards and our Holiday Craft Lounge on the Saturday after Thanksgiving so there are opportunities for kids of all ages to get crafty for the holidays.

there's no end to Vintaj love

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I'm really rather far behind.  Every time I go to the Vintaj brass website, there are new ideas and inspirations.  Lately they have been using alcohol inks to color the brass pieces - gorgeous colors, like this or this.  Meanwhile, I've been keeping it really simple and just making some charming necklaces.  Putting beads on head pins and having them dangle off of a chain is a look that I love and find tedious at the same time.  But for some reason, I was in the mood, so last weekend, I put together a few of these charming necklaces.  It was lots of fun to play with the various charms and create a mini story in the interaction of charms and stamped text.

This one has an ocean theme, obviously.  The charms say, "sea the see" and "by the shore."  I love that huge sand dollar charm.

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This one is an IOU for a Facebook-make-something challenge.  The charms have since been stamped and read, "Lizzy and Liam set off into the blue," and "M & stars went too."  I like the idea of creating a mini story with these pieces. (Elizabeth will just have to deal with the shortening of her name; her son is Liam and her hubby is Michael, hence the "M," which is also short for moon).

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And of course, I had to return to my usual blue/purple moon and stars theme.  I know I throw the word "love" around a lot when I am speaking about Vintaj, but it is really true.  This woman on the moon charm is one of the very first ones I purchased.  It had been combined with filigree and wrapped around a coral stone which I incorporated into a necklace.  The stamped charm on this one says, "by the light."  I love the Owl and the Pussycat. 
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"And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
    They danced by the light of the moon,
          The moon,
          The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon."

the most amazing book

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Oh, how happy am I?  Every time I go to France, I spend a long time at FNAC in the children's book section.  There's something about French books that is so..... I don't know, French.  Some element of whimsy but also some slightly darker undertone.  Anyway, a few years ago, I found a fabulous book about Princesses.  Now, to be clear, I don't speak French and I just buy the children's books for their illustrations (as I sometimes do with books in English). This one was a must-have. And how happy was I a few months ago when I saw it at the bookstore here in the U.S.?  Apparently someone had the good sense to translate it and bring it here.  SO you can imagine that I was really really happy when I took a closer look and realized that the book was published by a company that we already order from.  I know, it sounds like a simple task, but for some reason, book companies are especially difficult to order from.  They usually require lots of paperwork and references and other hoops to jump through.

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But, yay, we've already jumped through those hoops!  And today, Nick delivered the boxes to the shop.   I think I might have to spend the rest of the day reading all the charming text and looking at all the pictures, even though I've already poured over them in French.  This would be such a sweet gift for a new baby girl -- all the potential of Princesses that she can be: Princess Anne Phibian, Princess Ices, Princess For-A-Day, Princess Hot-Head, Princess Picaresque, Princess Claire Voyant... the list goes on.

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And then there are diagrams and descriptions, a veritable encylopedia of all things princess: cradle speeches, castles, coats of arms, maps, pets, totems and transportation.

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There are so many amazing details, even a grown-up princess might enjoy reading it.  And I'm pretty sure I'll have to get a copy in English for myself.

on to the next season

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No, I'm not talking about Christmas.  I'm talking about fall.  It's been here a little while but the talk of apple pie and Thanksgiving, the chill in the air, and the crunching of leaves has finally sunk in.  Being in retail, a part of you is always way ahead of schedule (it is time to order Christmas ornaments, after all, and several catalogs for Valentine cards have arrived recently).  Perhaps the other part of my compensates by being way behind schedule.  Whatever the reason, I think I am finally ready to fully embrace the season of fall.

At the shop, we have plenty of new arrivals - change is pretty much a constant thing, but there's certainly a new season feel to some of the arrivals.

The Japanese washi paper always amazes me with its colors - even though the shades aren't what I'd usually select, I love this combination of browns and blues.

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And, of course, we have goodies for fall accessorizing and clothing.  A new batch of sweaters is apparently on its way to us soon, but we still have the great Deandra yo-yo embellishments, as well as the highly popular sweater armwarmers which start selling out the moment we get them in.

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I'm also quite fond of these new mosaics.  They are made by the mom of a UW student and her color combinations are a refreshing twist on fall tones.
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And fall is a perfect time for grilled cheese sandwiches - real or pretend (like these made here in Madison).
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And we received more of these great key necklaces from an artist we met in Minnesota at The Creative Connection Event.  Their rustic vintage look works well with cool fall mornings and walks through crunchy leaves.

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day of the dead

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There's a distant chanting and the awareness that yet another protest/march is coming down State Street.... but then the sound of moaning and the chanting becomes clear: "What do we want?!" "BRAINS!"...  ahh, the zombies are on parade!  I still wish that my brother-in-law had taken the adorable girl out on parade - back when she was just learning to walk and her stumbling gait would have fit in perfectly with the rest of the zombies.

The season of all things witchy is upon us and minds turn from "what am I going to be when I grow up?" to "what am I going to be for Halloween?"  I'm afraid I peaked early with an elaborate mermaid costume several years ago and now I just rely on my old standby: fairy on Friday, witch on Saturday.  Which kind of answers both questions about what I am going to be.  And meanwhile, all sorts of other critters are crawling out of the woodwork, including some great new ties from Jes in New York.

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Sachi went all out with a Day of the Dead window for the shop.  She made some ornaments herself, as well as ordering some from artists near and far (Illinois and Mexico).

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People seem to be enjoying the little figures in the window, and the paper cut garlands are quite amazing in their detail. 

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Additionally, we have an assortment of rubber stamps for Halloween card-making, some vintage cards made here in Madison, and the black lace transparencies should make nice spooky garlands for your party decor.

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Well, first of all, I tried to make a mosaic once.  It was not pretty.  Well, the arrangement of blue and green glass was really pretty, but the filling in the gaps was not at all.  So I have a particular admiration/envy of mosaic artists.  We just got these creative mosaics from an artist in Minneapolis, who is the parent of a UW-Madison student.  We have some trivets and little coasters, as well as some wall pieces, switch plates, and ornaments.  I love the mix of colors and the creative use of different textures.

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just a little more sunshine, please?

We have had an absolutely amazing few weeks - summerlike weather some days, perfect fall weather on others.  Not a lot of rainstorms to bring the leaves tumbling down off their branches, lots of sunshine shining through the red and oranges and yellows of the changing leaves.

I got to wear my sweater coat for a few days, but then it warmed right back up again.  Besides the usual feeling that one needs to save these moments up for February (remember Frederick the Mouse?  That's kind of how I feel), there is added urgency thanks to my latest project: cyanotype printing.  This is really best done in full sunshine, and you can bet I won't be running in and outside in the middle of winter - who even knows if the process would work given the low angle of the sun in the sky.  So, what?  I'll have to call it off until the questionable weather of April (showers?!) or not print again until May?!  Eek! 

I've had a few restless moments at work - days when the sunshine is so wonderful and I'd really love to be printing some more papers.  I still feel like I'm in the learning phase, and it is different each time, depending on the time of day and the intensity of the sun, so this learning phase will obviously take a little while.  But it just makes me more anxious to print and to learn, knowing that each page I print will probably need some improvements.  My mind is racing with options - do I print little pieces and put together little triptcyhs?  Or try to print a single uncut piece of paper?  Not to mention there are so many things I want to print! I haven't even scratched the surface of my travel pictures and I really want to do a French series, as well as all other sorts of things.

The "darkroom" is the papered over basement at my parents' house so I've been running up and down stairs, going from bright sun into dim basement.  It's a little tiring so I'm afraid that I can't print for hours on end as I would like to. Still, today was a perfectly gorgeous sunny day.  However, I did have a long list of errands to run.  I shortened the list down to what I needed for printing: paper and transparencies, and off I went.  (and my inability to rotate this image to the proper orientation is a fair representation of how things went slightly akilter.  It's a simple task which is usually accomplished easily.  I'm sorry, you'll have to tip your head to the side). Wimap

First, the University Book Store to get paper.  I have to say... my oh my, is that paper nice.  You know how sometimes you just make do with the cheap paper?  Well, this calls for hot press watercolor paper and for the class, I went out and bought a big sheet of Arches ($7 a sheet).  Boy, did that make a difference!  I printed on several different pieces of paper but I'm happiest with those.  So, back to the bookstore I went. 

Then, well, can I just say that I intensely dislike Office Depot?  It is close to my parents' house and I was trying to shorten my errands so I went there, a mistake I will not make again.  There used to be a nice and helpful (and cute) copy boy who worked there and they used to have nice machines out on the floor for anyone to use but, oh, have times changed.  First of all, I really dislike it when you have to swipe your credit card to make a few copies.  That's why I stopped going to Kinko's a long time ago.  Second of all, for this project, I need to make high contrast black & white negative images out of my photographs.  It sounds complicated but it really isn't.  But after swiping my credit card, the screen didn't come up with nearly enough tabs and I realized I couldn't do what I wanted.  So I moved over to the color copier which looked fancier, swiped my credit card... no luck.  So then I went up to the counter and told the guy what I wanted.  Nope, can't be done on those machines, he has to do it for me.  And no, he can't just set my photos down, he wants me to tape them onto pieces of paper so he knows exactly how they should be laid out.  Excuse me?  Precious sunlight is slipping away!!!!  Just before I started taping, I asked him if it would cost the same 9 cents as if I could have done it over on the other machines.  No, it costs an extra 25 cents per page because he has to place them.  So now I have to pay extra to do something that I can do myself if only you'd let me?  Well, I didn't yell at him but I did walk away, got in the car and drove to Copy Max like I should have done in the first place.  I know, I had to drive farther, still, photocopying cost: 47 cents.  In the interest of time, I just copied the Wisconsin map pieces, France, Spain, adorable girl, you will just have to wait. 

Of the 6 prints that I managed to make, some were overexposed, some will work better as a small component of a set, though I am happy with some of the composite prints.  I was pleased to be able to use this self-portrait of me with the adorable girl that didn't really work out as a photograph you'd put in the frame but I liked myself from that angle.  I'm not sure when will be the middle-of-the-day that I have available... hopefully there will be at least one more before I have to wait until spring.


the paper wreath project

Periodically, Emily sends me emails with notes saying, "I'd like to do this at your craft table!," or, "this looks fun!"  Of course, I'm usually at the tip of the iceberg of things to work on so the emails get saved in their special folder of "things to check out someday." 

This project is one in particular that caught my eye a long time ago: a wreath made of book pages.  Now, if you search Google Images for "book paper wreath," you will come up with zillions of variations on the theme, all looking very tempting and lovely - paper cones, paper not-so-cones, paper leaves, in color, in black and white ...

To be honest, I don't have a lot of practice with hot glue guns.  I know, I know, it's like a crafting sin.  I don't know why I haven't made the leap. or little hop, such as it is.  But most of the work that I do involves other methods of adhesives.  Plus, if this is going to be a craft table project, I prefer something that isn't so hazardous.  And if it is going to be a Holiday Craft Lounge project, I need something that isn't going to require lots of outlets or drop wax on the floor of the Overture Lobby.  SO, I've been mulling the project over for a little while.  Happily, I ran across these instructions which involve no glue gun.  Also, they involve those old fashioned wire coat hangers.  I like the more recycled aspect of this approach.  Many other wreaths are attached to styrofoam circles which I don't find quite as charming.  Plus, you've got a hook already a part of your wreath this way.Book 004

I'm using relatively thin encyclopedia pages, using a push pin to pre-punch the holes and then threading the cones on the hanger.  It took a little experimenting, but I like to use squares of paper that are 5.5" x 5.5"  Other people look to be simply ripping pages out of books and using them as they are (rectangular).  The only hanger in the store was one of those ones that has a cardboard component.  I took that out, but it left me with a smaller hanger form than you might otherwise start with.

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Friday morning I started making paper cones.  After only a dozen, I was getting a little bored with the project.  It's cool, it's simple, but it's rather time-consuming.  Each piece of paper is rolled into a cone and the end is folded up, then punched with the pin (or punched with a tiny hole punch), then strung on the hanger. 

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By Friday, early evening, I passed the halfway mark and it looks like it will take 100 sheets of paper to fill the wreath, and that's with a smaller hanger.  So, lots of cones to roll.  It might be a good project to sit down and do in front of the TV with a good movie on....  Which reminds me that I need to update my Netflix queue.  I've started watching "Glee."  I can never manage to be home in time to watch certain TV shows so I've missed out on that but enjoyed the few episodes that I did manage to catch.

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I think I'm going to need to do a little bit of gluing.  Or GLITTER gluing...  The cones tend to spin in to the center no matter how tightly or loosely I pack them. 
All in all, I do really love the look.  So THANK YOU, Emily.  I could see these looking really pretty made with scraps of Christmas wrapping paper - but the patterned side on the inside maybe?  Or a little rim of glitter on the edges?