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October 2010
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December 2010

more stamping fun


We will have more holiday crafting activities in the month of December and I'll be posting the schedule shortly but in the meantime, I'm pleased to announce that Mindy Kuen has an opening in her schedule.  Her ornament stamping station was a very popular activity at our Holiday Craft Lounge (except for the Russian Folk Orchestra that wasn't so thrilled with the hammering during their performance.. .. eek!  I didn't think music and art would have a detrimental effect on foreign policy...).

SO, if you didn't make it to the Holiday Craft Lounge, or you didn't have a chance to stamp as much as you wanted, we hope you can stop in to Anthology on Saturday, December 4th from noon to 3 pm.

Mindy will be bringing tools and supplies for stamping (I'm a little jealous of that cute little font!).  We hope to see you then!




Holiday Craft Lounge 2010


All right, I'm a little giddy.  A successful end to months of preparation will do that to you.  Our first ever Holiday Craft Lounge wrapped up yesterday in the late afternoon.  We cleared out of the Overture Lobby and the artists and shopgirls returned to their studios and homes and stores. 

I feel SO grateful and blessed!  LOOK at all that food!  We have a cartload to bring to the Second Harvest Foodbank AND our generous customers have provided enough for over 500 meals.  Hooray! Hooray!

Thank you to everyone who came out and enjoyed the Downtown Holiday Open House and the Holiday Craft Lounge.  I don't usually carry a can of food with me when I go shopping so I am amazed at how many people remembered.

Meanwhile, on the crafting front, judging by the stragglers who just didn't want to leave, paper wreaths and stamped metal ornaments were VERY popular activities.  We are so thankful to all the artists who took time to bring their wares and their inspiration to the event: Forrest & Co at Artterro, Jane Fasse, Emily Keown, Debra and Lily Greene, Karen Kuhn & Co, Melissa Brumm and Willa Leannah, Cynthia Wadsworth, Alisson Burda, Naomi Richardson, Andrea Thorson, Michelle Pieterick, Kim Lapacek, Mindy Kuen, Norma Jean Buchanan, Rosy Hawbaker, Kaeti Lindquist and Diane Knauff.  There were so many wonderful activities!  I'm feeling inspired to go and make things for Christmas.  Now to find the time...


Craft lounge 004This is a picture of the Craft Lounge from above.  We had a pretty steady stream of people all day long and a nice mix of shopping, crafting, chatting, and laughing. In all, in addition to Anthology's table, we had 17 artists with projects and products to share.

The space of the Overture Center lobby was so wonderful to be in.   So often we just walk through there in the evening on our way to a performance; we don't usually get to linger and enjoy the space.  Initially we were planning to use the Promenade Lounge on the second floor but we wouldn't have been able to fit nearly as many artists or shoppers in there.  Plus the Overture Lobby is so light and open.

A HUGE thanks to the Overture Center Community Arts Access Program.  There is great debate over the value of the Overture Center to the City of Madison, and an even larger debate over the value of art in our lives.  Personally, I think that art is an integral part of living, that creating is essential to sanity and that Art is not something that is set apart from Life.  It is meant to be touched and made, to be messy and underneath your fingernails.  The Holiday Craft Lounge was a great opportunity for us to do on a larger scale what we started at Anthology - to get supplies in the hands of shoppers and get them creating.  This kind of event is a prime example of how art is at work in our lives, and how the Overture Center is an integral part of the community.

Thank you! Thank you!





"I've just fallen in love with this store. I'm so glad to have found you."*

I'm pretty sure that I've told this story before, but this time of year always makes me think of it.  Four years and six hours ago, I woke up after several challenging months.  Of course, when you are in the middle of things, it is hard to see what it is all leading up to.  Change had been underfoot at my job for months, I was doubting myself - my talents, my abilities, my plans.  There were tears.  I had even spent most of October updating my resume (which hadn't been updated since I started my job about 10 years before).  THAT alone was a stressful project - how DO you convey your skills and talents on one piece of paper?

"When I got home, I told them, 'I think it's daughters of elves and fairies working in there.'  I didn't want to go back out on the street."

But when I woke up, early for me, on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I woke up suddenly and everything was totally clear.  I know, I know, it sounds so cheesy, so cliche, but it was one of those classic light-bulb-going-on moments that people talk about but which I didn't really believe in. After months of deliberating over what I was going to do for the rest of my life, trying to make compromises to fit my plan with my boss' plan for me, thinking out loud while friends patiently listened and didn't say anything about my secretarial aspirations, trying to figure out what job I could take to "fill the time," when I woke that Wednesday morning, my only thought was, "we should open a store." 

Of course there were moments of doubts and anxiety which followed afterwards, but the clarity of that moment stays in my memory. 

"This store is very inspirational.  It strikes up memories, give me ideas.  There's not much like that out there these days.  Thank you."

I'm thinking about that moment especially this year because I am delivering a sermonette at church on December 5th.  The topic is preparing and I've been thinking a lot about ways that we prepare.  Times that we think we are prepared for one thing but are really preparing for another.  Times that we feel unprepared and yet we have never been more prepared.

"This makes me want to go craft.  Like, right now."

And that Thanksgiving day, I spoke my plans outloud to friends and family.  In some ways, I had never felt more prepared.  Because my Christmas letter for about 10 years kept saying, "by 40, I want a store of my own."  That was why I had my job in the first place, because that was the first step on that path.  Not to mention all the projects that filled my apartment, which could easily fill up a store.  But I wasn't 40 yet!  There was still so much preparing to be done.  In some ways, the timing seemed a little off.  I hadn't really been expecting my job to come to an end at just that moment.  The business plan wasn't written.  The adorable girl was just a month old, and who starts a business with a newborn?

"I appreciate you being out here and sharing your creativity."

In hindsight, the moment was just about perfect and I am so glad that we seized upon it.  The economy was still in pretty good shape, we cashed in on some stocks while they were still valuable, the bank was willing to give us a loan.  And, let's face it, starting a business with a newborn is, in some ways, easier than trying to set up shop with a toddler who doesn't sit still.

And now we are coming up on our three-year anniversary in a few months.  There's very little that I would differently if I had it to do over again, which is always a comfort. 

"Look how adorable!  I just want to eat this shop!"

I feel tremendously thankful - for my sister, my family, that adorable girl, our customers, our consignees, for the ways that risk and daring are rewarded and for the ways that I get to share creativity and inspiration every day.

"You have the cutest store.  I just love it.  You took something you loved and turned it into a store, didn't you?"

Nothing is perfect - it is a tremendous effort for the introvert that I am to be nice to stragners 6 days a week.  There are days when I feel tired or overwhelmed, anxious or crabby.  But every single day, someone comes into the store and pays us a compliment, thanks us, purchases the perfect present or just the art supply that they were looking for.  I have filled a notebook with the happiness of customers and I feel so grateful for having the opportunity to have an effect on the creativity of the world.  Happy Thanksgiving!

"I'm just in love with this place.  Everything here is so thoughtful. It makes me a little misty."


*actual customer overheads

We (heart) Wisconsin

Presenting our custom Wisconsin ornament, featuring Madison at the center of the cut-out heart.  Just to be fair, I share this picture with you here despite the many qualifiers that follow.  Facebook fans have already gotten a sneak peek and at the rate the ornaments are selling, they should probably be considered limited-edition (I'm not entirely sure how long Sachi will have the patience to do all this sewing).  The minute that Sachi finished her first one and put it out on the sales floor, it sold; and when I posted the picture on Facebook, we started our waiting list with 6 people. So far, the waiting list exceeds the quantity in-stock so it is doubtful we will have any just sitting at the shop.  You may send us an email: and we will add you to the list.  Please keep in mind shipping deadlines and the simple fact that it takes time to make things: if you place your request after December 20th, you will get an ornament but not in time for December 25th.

Downtown Holiday Open House

Once you've eaten your fill on Thursday, purchased your electronics on Friday, it's time to head downtown on Saturday!  Downtown Madison is always lively, and the Saturday after Thanksgiving is no exception.  This is the day of the annual Holiday Open House and many businesses will have refreshments and other goodies (see map).  Plus, the free trolley is running, there's a holiday photo op in Overture Rotunda, as well as shadow puppetery at Kids in the Rotunda, mac & cheese pizza at Ian's, and there's the new Children's Museum to check out.

Anthology will have expanded craft table activities across the street in the Overture Center lobby.  Several area artists will be bringing their crafty wares to sell, as well as sharing crafty activities from book paper wreaths and stamped bracelets to pocket mirrors and paper pennants.  Anthology is participating in the Share your Holidays campaign for Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin.  Suggested donation for the Holiday Craft Lounge is a can of non-perishable food or $1 for the food pantry. Because no one should craft on an empty stomach.



it's really all a blur

I hardly even know where to begin.  Today I brought the girl to preschool and the teacher said, "It's movie day!"  (which it is every Friday), and I thought, "movie day?  It's Friday?"  Sachi and I did get a day off in the middle of the week which always throws me off.  Mom and Pamela covered a slow day at the shop and Sachi & I went to Milwaukee.  I've been eager to take her to Fischberger's, and we also checked out Project M, Beans & Barley, and Artist & Display.  But I woke up that morning with a sore throat and have been functioning at slightly less than 100% the rest of this week.

It has been a slightly quiet week - lots of people are "just looking" and express their intention to come back later for Christmas shopping.  I know, it is a little early, but it just adds to the general sense of malaise.  Sachi and I have been quite crabby with each other - which in the Komai world means that there's a lot of silence.  And it is sad to say, but it really only took one giant sale today to make me feel more cheerful.  Can I be any more mercenary?

Besides the shopping outing, the week has been busy with new arrivals, preparing for the craft lounge, magnet picture frames, and a slightly panicked, mostly grumpy, feeling that the list is getting the better of me. 

The grumpy feeling eased momentarily a few times during the week, such as when these great necklaces arrived.

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I know they are fabulous on their own, but a part of me can't help thinking how they would look with some combination of ribbon/pearl instead of the simple chain.  Yes, I always take things one step too far.

Happily, I finished Lily's Blurb book (my traditional Christmas present) in the nick of time to take advantage of their sale.  I could have spent another week thinking of better text, but it just had to be on its way.  Sometimes you just gotta let go and get on with the rest of the list. 

Finishing the Blurb book last night seems to have marked a bit of a turning point for now.  Although I could have slept in this morning, I woke early and went to my parents.  45 minutes and one cobalt drill bit later and 75 magnet picture frames are ready to move on to the second-to-last step.  THAT is a huge deal.  Of all the items on my list of things to restock, magnet picture frames are a sure missed sale (in fact, sales always start to dwindle even when stock gets low).  I'm just going to savor this moment before looking at the rest of what needs to be restocked.  There is both pleasure and pain to be found in examining months worth of sales.

There is also a certain level of chaos.  Seems like I think I have a handle on my list and then something comes along to disrupt.  Take this little felt goodie, for example.  Sachi just made one, and the minute it was out on the sales floor, it sold, along with several requests for more.  I offered to help cut out felt Wisconsins, and I know for sure that was not on my list a few hours ago.  Still, that, at least, is a nice, simple task.

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I've been on the hunt for a winter coat so on Monday I took a trip to the mall.  Now, I used to work at Boston Store so there was a little bit of tripping down memory lane, but all the holiday decorations and music, the lack of windows, the utter sameness of it all, was completely dulling to my senses.  I had to call Sachi and thank her for opening Anthology with me so that I wouldn't have to return to that.  And it makes me all the more determined to savor the unique and local shopping opportunities that abound this holiday season... if I can just find the time to sneak away from the shop.  But anyway, along such themes, isn't this a great shirt that Sachi got at Ground Zero Coffee?  Even though I'm pretty sure there are some people out there who will say you shouldn't homogenize milk.  This is Madison, after all.

Friday 016 And, of course, I can't really complain about my list of things to do, since it includes making 2x2 books out of my cyanotype prints,

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making more charming enamel necklaces from a new batch of particularly gorgeous enamels (don't worry, I'm saving plenty for you to make earrings at the Holiday Craft Lounge),

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unpacking a box of hand-dyed yarn.... LOVE!
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placing an order for more French goodness (you'll see pictures when it arrives, and also probably hear me screaming - this is another company that I've been pestering since we opened and they are finally selling in North America),

And getting totally carried away with placecards for Thanksgiving.  The people who are hosting Thanksgiving don't even have to use these, but I had so much fun making them.  I think I might have to make them for the shop.  There are an assortment of adjectives (double-sided even) and I can see some entertaining dinner conversations.  How fun would it be for a wedding?  Perhaps you'd want to remove obstreperous or nefarious.  Dinner

And then there are all those paper triangles that I've been cutting, getting pieces ready for people to make their own garlands during the Holiday Craft Lounge.  Sachi has been punching circles for Christmas garlands and I have been cutting an assortment of triangles.  It's amazing how often my work comes back to cutting paper and sorting through colors - not a bad blur, all in all...

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Holiday Craft Lounge: Jane's papers

For those of you who have long been admiring the paper stars and ornaments that we carry at the shop, the Holiday Craft Lounge will be an opportunity for you to make your own. Jane will be bringing her wonderful assortment of papers and demonstrating the ball paper ornaments, the star ornaments , paper wreaths, and paper garlands.  She will also have kits for you to purchase and take home.  I am especially fond of the stars for decorating... and they also make a simple package look quite fancy!

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it's beginning to look a little like.....

Dare I even say the word?  It's not Thanksgiving yet so most of my attention is on pie but there's no denying that the holiday season is upon us.  There are craft shows every weekend for the next month or so, great opportunities to support local and creative people and get some gifts.

At the shop, we are slowly turning some space over to Christmas.  It's a tight squeeze, as always.

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Last night, I installed version 1.0 of our Christmas window.  This one has a food theme and is somewhat Christmas but not exclusively.  I got to open a few boxes of Hello Kitty mini foods for part of the display.  Always fun. 

With the time change and oncoming winter, it is pretty dark at night so it is nice to have the lights in the window. 

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I enjoyed pulling an assortment of items in shades of pinks and reds and greens.

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The window also features Jane's great paper stars, the "cupcake" onesie, sweater armwarmers in shades of pinks and greens, and pendants from Kim in Manitowoc.

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For the crafters, besides the Holiday Craft Lounge on November 27th, we've got supplies and kits and papers for making your own projects.  There are paper packs with assortments of paper and Sachi has been punching circles so that you can make your own holiday garlands.  We also have stickers and embellishments, chipboard houses to decorate,

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and a fun Advent calendar garland kit.  I love the idea of filling each pocket with a little note or tiny treat. 

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I worked a little harder at the collecting this year and am pleased with the results: a nice assortment of ornaments including two kinds of paper stars, ceramic cranes, ceramic botanicals, soft patchwork birds, bottlecaps, and more.

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And, of course there are cards, boxed and individual.  Sachi is winning the most popular card pick (only one box left  of that big-eyed doll with the bunny ears).
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And sweet little holiday houses 
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And wrapping paper, of course. 
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Holiday Craft Lounge: Kim's Crafty Apples & book page wreath

Ok, I am seriously amazed with everything that this woman gets done!  Not only does she make quilts and a zillion other crafts, she is mom and apple-grower extraordinaire (see Lapacek's Orchard).  Whew!  That tires me out just thinking about it.  And the book page project which I started but kind of lost interest on, was completed by her, times two or three, in as much time. You can check out more pictures of the process here, become a fan, and also check out the wreath that she made from magazine pages.  A-Mazing!

And happily for everyone, she consented to share this project at the Holiday Craft Lounge.Bookwreath