Previous month:
June 2011
Next month:
August 2011

birthday wishes guest book

Sunday 048
The guestbooks for the upcoming birthday celebrations are almost done and I've been having lots of fun.  I did, as usual, I forgot about the matter of the added thickness so things are kind of bursting at the seams... the reason I picked a spiral bound notebook in the first place. 

I started with one of the altered book journals that we have here at the shop: Alice in Wonderland for me, and a sweet little Richard Scarry Just for Fun for my friend.  On some of the blank pages, I added pictures and text cut out from other Golden book pages.  Other pages, I ripped out, leaving just an inch tab, to which I attached a piece of patterned scrapbook paper.  I did this first, because I like the patterns and colors, and second, because the Poladroid prints that I made had a white frame and I thought they'd look better against a patterned background instead of a plain white piece of paper.

Sunday 044 We have gold and silver photo corners here at the shop but I ended up going to Artist & Craftsman Supply for the old fashioned (have to lick them) black paper photo corners.  I'm loving the way the Poladroids turned out.  Unfortunately, with photo corners, photos and scrapbook papers, the book is getting very thick so I had to omit some photos.  But it is still a nice assortment.

Sunday 047

And yes, I am leaving space for people to write.  I am hoping they won't feel intimidated by what's already in the book and will feel free to write on the pages.  But just in case, I've asked a few family friends (and Mom) to write in the book before the party.


Sunday 049Sunday 046


Last night I just had a few finishing touches.  There were still some pages that were totally blank - can't have that...  So out came the box of stickers and letters and labels.  I made an inside front cover for each of us with our names and a mix of stamped letters and stickers:

Sunday 045

Now all that is left is picking out balloons and flowers....

still going...

This is supposed to be a short report from downtown Madison for those who are curious.  We're still here.  The fight still goes on.  There are not thousands of people surrounding the Capitol, they are on bus tours of the state, going door to door, making phone calls.  We hope that the recall elections on August 9th go enough our way to slow things down.  We hope that more than 50% of the voting population will come out to vote, that those who didn't vote will always vote from now on.  We hope that even though people have to wait hours to get their photo ID that they will persist and come to the polls.  We will be collecting recall signatures for the Governor as soon as we are able.  Anthology has now sold 15,000 buttons since mid-February so, yes button sales have slowed, but not at all ended.  More "recall Walker" bumper stickers are appearing around town; we've added some new prints and posters to our collection.  And if nothing goes the way we want it to, we will still keep fighting for the ideals of our nation, which are liberty and justice for all.  That's the short story.

Being me, I can't just leave it at that.  What should I tell you?  On the one hand, I feel like I've said everything that I want to say.  That I'm tired of talking and feeling sad/mad/bad and just want to look at pretty things on Pinterest.  That the signs in our windows, the buttons on the table, my bumper stickers speak for themselves.  That surely we're all just talking with the people who agree with us and saying everything that has already been said before.  If you feel that way too, perhaps you didn't even bother to open this post. 

On the other hand, I am in this for the long haul.  For life, as it were.  I believe in good and beauty and truth, and I believe in prevailing over greed and inequality. I don't see it as just a Wisconsin thing.  And I don't believe in being quiet about it.  Clearly there are issues at the national level as well.  And I have talked with many out of state tourists who come to Madison to commiserate and show their support, and who are asking nearly the same questions of their governors or legislators. There is much work to be done.  Even if all goes the way that I wish it to, there is much work to be done. 

Sunday 050

And of course, we keep making buttons.  Sachi just came up with a new series of pin-up girls, but I was also inspired to make a new Keep Calm print with a series of Wisconsin-specific suggestions.  As you can see from the picture, I am pleased with myself. The text is my own; I just did the layout in a word processing program.  And, per my own instructions, I had it printed locally.  I got a little distracted with political affiliation of printers (man, that list of Walker donors is long!).  But then I decided that if I could show someone that there was money to be made from a small business Democrat, perhaps that's not such a bad thing.  Also, my new policy is to shop as small as possible.  Even if a small businessperson disagrees with your politics, they probably don't have thousands of dollars to spare to donate to the candidate you disagree with.


Although it is fiction, I am right now reading Game of Thrones, which reminds me of the games that people play through all of time, games of money and power, without regard for the lives of other people.  In my world though, we are on an arc that brings us to more good, more peace, more justice, more happily ever after for all.

"The common people pray for rain, healthy children, and a summer that never ends. It is no matter to them if the high lords play their game of thrones, as long as they are left in peace. They never are." George R. Martin

Without our shop, I might be inclined to sit alone and sulk, to be alone in my worry.  With our shop, I am forced, on a daily basis, to hold my breath when someone comes through the door or pauses to read our sign.  Will they like me?  Will they hate my point of view?  Can we be civil to each other even if we do disagree?  As a shop owner, of course, I am limited somewhat by the bounds of customer service.  But I find those can be useful.  In fact, I wish we all practiced such bounds.  And I know, people say that we are more polarized now than ever before and it seems that n'er the twain shall meet.  But if we all just sit in our corners, talk and never listen, complain about how polarized we are, then that, indeed, will be our fate.  And I strongly doubt that anything can get done if we are like those two Dr. Seuss Zax, which even a preschooler recognizes is a silly story, not something to model oneself after.

It takes work and energy, but I believe we all need to speak up for the direction we want this world to go in.  That said, a critical component is also listening, making space for everyone's voices to be heard.  Which, of course, means hearing things you don't like to hear.  But then, I'm a big proponent of etiquette and manners and politeness so I'd love it if the dialog could take place with such tones.  My resolve is tested often in the course of a week.  A customer came in a few days ago and questioned if she could come in the store even though she wasn't a student, faculty, staff or state worker (per our sign which says we depend on aforementioned people).  I simply said yes, of course (even though I bristled at the obtuseness of the question).  I did have to add that, technically, aren't we all students of one sort or another... and then my sister came out of the office to make sure I didn't go any further than that.  I realize that some people see our signs and resolve not to buy anything in the store.  I'm sorry for that, I'm sorry that they dismiss the creative things that I've gathered, the work of the many local artists.  And because of that sorrow, I try to work harder myself not to dismiss someone just because we disagree politically.  I still have good things to offer a Republican.  But those that walk in, complain about my signs, and then walk out, are only proving to me that they are not my customer and therefore don't give me much incentive.  Meanwhile, I'm getting lots of positive reinforcement for my signs.  It isn't just about money, but certainly, as a business, the loudness of our voice would depend a bit on how our customers reacted.  So far, they are just telling me to speak louder.  So, yeah, I'm still going.

And I know, we all have our anger and our sorrow and our pain.  A guy drove by me a few days ago and yelled "a**hole" out his window at me.  Was it because of my bumper stickers?  Was it because I unknowingly cut him off?  I have no idea why. I linger a bit too long on the encounter, but am mostly left with a feeling of sorrow.  What kind of life is it when we have so much anger and violence in our interactions with each other?  When an unwitting mistake or a simple point of view causes us to completely write off the other person?  We have so much to offer each other.

So, all I can really say is that I hope everyone is still going.  Still being true to your own self and to your hopes and dreams, but also being true to the voice of our country, which, I believe, is supposed to be about liberty and justice for all.


P.S.  I also commissioned this print for the shop.  I probably have to uncover it three or four times a day - obviosuly some silent objectors can't walk by it without hiding it.

Keepcalm 002

Pola... what?

Polad 058-pola

Well, all of you fancy iPhone people will be utterly unimpressed, but since I just have a phone that's just a phone, I am quite thrilled by the discovery of Poladroid, a program to convert your digital pictures into Polaroid look-alikes.  I know, I know.  I actually read an article a while ago which talked about all the kinds of technology that have been developed that allow us to reminisce about those days of lesser technology that the new technology has been developed to replace.  Fonts that look like old-fashioned typewriting, videos with scratchy and grainy overlays, and yes, now fake Polaroids.  There's clearly some aspect of nostalgia this addresses, even though few of our family photos ever were Polaroid.

Polad 040-pola

In a few weeks, I'll be co-celebrating - a friend and I both have August birthdays and we're having a big party, complete with balloons and flowers and dancing.  I'm making a birthday guest/wish book for each of us and going to include an assortment of childhood photos.  I had heard about Poladroid from a friend & artist whose work is at Anthology (she made some Poladroids of Madison scenes) and had been wanting to try it for a long time. 

Now I'm totally addicted.  It is tempting to convert many childhood pictures to Poladroid.  I still have to work out the printing details.  For expediancy and affordability, I'll be going with small 4x6 sizes but they would probably be more accurately-sized if I printed them 5x7.  In any event, we're each trying to collect one photo for each year, and I'm putting them into the altered storybook journals that we have here at the shop, also including some fragments of text and book illustrations, and room to insert cards or for people to write a little message.  It's been a fun project to work on, not to mention the fun of going through all the years of photographs (which really need to be organized one of these days).

Polad 029-pola

shirt skirt project

 Dbeeshirt 004

Well, I thought I had found enough shortcuts to tempt me back into clothes sewing.  We'll see if that's actually true.  My intentions are often bigger than my actions.

I think this started because of a cute ruffled skirt I saw on Etsy.  Having limited sewing skills and knowing the fabric that exists is always a dangerous thing though, because I see a skirt like that, which is way too small for me, and I think, "oh, but wouldn't it be nice in different fabrics?"  The crafty Deandra, echoed the challenge, as well as putting in a color request.  Now, don't get excited, just telling me the colors you want doesn't usually end up in a skirt.  Truth be told, my clothes sewing skills are very limited.  Happily, Deandra is hip so I'm pretty sure she'll be okay with all the raw edges.  One probably should have serged all the ruffles but since I don't have a serger, that wasn't gonna happen.  Still, I'm happy with the prototype, hopefully happy enough to follow through on making one for myself.

That night I spent a lot of time on Pinterest, hunting for shirt-skirt ideas.  Pinterest works well for me because I am very visual - often I will just look at pictures in magazines without doing much reading, so just sifting through everyone's photos works perfectly for me.  In doing so, I came across this skirt, which I totally love - shirt sleeve belt?!  Clever!  A few more searches for ruffles, and then I was ready to begin.  Though most skirt ruffles were horizontal, I decided to go with vertical tuxedo ruffles - much easier to make vertical lines than horizontal.

Dbeeshirt 003

I had a little debate about how to attach the ruffles underneath the shirt, but hit upon a 2 shirt combo, with ruffles attached to the undershirt.  The thrift shopping is always the fun part.  Happily, I had a little spare time the next evening so I zipped over to Goodwill to the men's XL shirt section. I found a pair of shirts in Deandra's color palatte (red/coral and aqua/seafoam), as well as a two lovely pastel striped shirts that I had to get for myself.

Dbeeshirt 008Dbeeshirt 007Dbeeshirt 006

The next night I cut strips of fabric and sewed on ruffles.  Today I am making cloth buttons and sewing those on.  All that is left is to sew the waistband and beltloops (which are going to be red ric rac).  I think the ruffles could be worn front or back, and with belt/loops, the tied shirtsleeve ends can either be worn on the same side as the ruffles or the other side.  I love that from one view it looks like that classic shirt-tied-around the waist look.

Dbeeshirt 005
And I love that I managed to keep the shirt pocket on the skirt! Dbeeshirt 009

keeping calm

Keepcalm 001

Well, trying to anyway.  Is it insanely hot where you are right now?  This week has been hot and humid and grumpy and crabby here in Madison.  BUT I've been keeping busy with some new projects and am super excited about these new prints that just came in.  I don't know why I didn't think of it earlier but we've added our own Wisconsin twist on the Keep Calm series.  This series, if you didn't know, is based on the original print "Keep Calm and Carry On," which was apparently printed in England, to be posted all over the place if the Nazis invaded.  I have mixed feelings about the whole thing, because it feels a little passive - I mean, do we really just want to "carry on" when there's such a threat as NAZIS?!  So, I have particularly been enjoying the variations that everyone keeps coming up with.  "Go Crazy and Make Something," might be one of my favorites.  At the shop, we have many different options for specific things to do, other than just Carry On.  And a couple weeks ago, it occurred to us that perhaps we could commission some Wisconsin-specific images.  During the early days of protests, we modified our sandwich board to say "keep calm and protest on," so that came to mind first.  But a few others came to mind as well:

Keepcalm 003

And, of course:

Keepcalm 002

Maxwell 2011

Ballet 010

Well, we're getting there.  The crabbiness level has intensified but hopefully we are managing to hide it from our customers.  This weekend might be my least favorite weekend of the year, though I'm sure I will fine once I'm in the middle of it.  It doesn't help the crabbiness that everything snuck up on me.  We've been so busy with out-of-town tourists at the shop, they I haven't done my usual level of prep work.  Plus I got distracted with new projects. 

But ready or not, Maxwell Street Days starts tomorrow (at our shop, 9 am - if you arrive at 8 am, I might make you help carry boxes).  The office is a disaster area and if the fire department comes to inspect the back hallway, I will just have to beg them for mercy.  Well, I will take the cardboard out today at least.  I spent a little time in my sewing studio last week so I managed to sort out some bags of scraps.  Some pieces could still be used for quilting, others are in that "too small to sew" category but might work for cloth buttons, fabric collages, or tiny Barbie napkins.

Technically, Maxwell Street Days is Friday and Saturday (8 am to 6 pm) and Sunday (10 am to 5 pm).  There are many great deals to be had, even started today (Thursday).  Anthology will be open 9 am to 7 pm on Friday and Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm on Sunday.  We will have our studio garage sale tables out on Friday and Saturday from 9 am to 4 pm.  The tables will be filled with supplies we've received over the course of the year as artists clean out their studios.  This year is particularly heavy on upholstery swatches.  Perhaps next year I will follow through on my own intentions to clean out my studio spaces more thoroughly.  Buy a bag for $5 and fill it up.  All money collected at the outside tables will be donated to local youth arts organizations: the Art Cart, Monroe Street Fine Arts Center, Shirts that Supply, Lussier Community Center.

Ballet 013 Ballet 012


Inside the shop, our back table is filled with sale items (prices as marked).  And, yes, only select items are on sale.

Ballet 011
It promises to be a scorcher, as usual, but it's always a lively event downtown, and of course, the Farmer's Market will be back in its usual place after being bumped last weekend.  We hope to see you soon!

newsletter: summer 2011

Greetings from Anthology!

We are looking forward to a busy July with the Farmer’s Market, Concerts on the Square, Tuesday Lunchtime Concerts, daily Solidarity Sing-Alongs, downtown weddings and Art Fair on the Square (9th & 10th). 


Once again we will pair with Absolutely Art to offer our second annual Studio Garage Sale during Maxwell Street Days (July 15th-16th). For $5 you can stuff a bag with donated arts and craft supplies; the money will go to local children’s art programs such as the MMoCA Art Cart, Monroe Street Fine Arts Center, and Absolutely Art's Shirts That Supply. We will happily accept your supplies--fabric and paper scraps, old books, calendars, picture frames, yarn, mosaic pieces--if you are cleaning out your studio. Last year’s sale was very popular with art teachers and parents wanting to make affordable crafts with their kids.


In addition to the Studio Garage Sale we will have a Sale Table inside the shop.



We continue to get new arrivals daily:

EXTREMELY popular (and accurate) “Varieties of Beer” t-shirts and prints

Other charts: Rap Names, Super Powers, Culinary Tools

Necklaces with Victorian illustrations (octopus, tea set, pocket knife)

Victorian illustration bird earrings and bracelets

Greeting Cards: boomboxes, besos (“kisses”), birds, bicycles, Banksy (street artist)

Upcycled Storybook coasters, necklaces and journals

Soft cotton T-shirt strip necklaces

Handpainted animal ABC wall blocks

Mosaic picture frames from Emily Kircher Recycling Artist

Little Girls’ and Ladies’ upcycled skirts made from vintage tea towels and tablecloths

Rock & Roll Alphabet (new book by Madison native Jeff Schwartz)

Beth Eaton Pottery from Milwaukee

Upcycled soda and beer tumblers from Weston, WI

Paper cuts of the Great Lakes and Madison isthmus

“Keep Calm and _____ On” Prints (Ride, Teach, Sing, Hike, Kayak, etc.)
Stencils: birds, Polaroid cameras, skeleton keys, birch trees


Stop in and see what’s new! Don’t forget to drop off your unused arts and craft supplies as well as any paper shopping bags with handles.


Thank you,

Laura & Sachi Komai

never doubt, and it's SO not over

Sign 001

That's right.  Still. 

And, of course, there is very little for me to say that I haven't already.  I think it boils down to this:

Ballet 001

And in light of that, and the ideals that I hold for this country that I live in, it really will never be over.  Because the battle and the striving is probably constant, isn't it?  Now we hear that the Republicans have redrawn the district lines, in secret, without waiting for input from the wards (usually the local level sends its suggestions up to the state).  So much for small government.  I shudder to think what lines they've drawn up; I'm pretty sure the end result is like playing a game with a child who makes up rules as you go along so that they always end up winning.

So, yes, I feel a little tired and discouraged at times.  But, no, I won't fall into the pit of despair, or the trap of imagining that I am alone.  I am so in awe of all the people working hard around the state, making phone calls, going door to door, making connections to strengthen a quality of life that we can all believe in.  I feel so thankful for my customers who come in and cheer us on.  Only time will tell - in the short term, the recall results, but in the long term, the direction that Wisconsin goes in the future.  But I have to believe that life gets better for everyone, that good triumphs over evil, that hope prevails, 'cause that's the kind of person I am.

And even though there are not the masses of people at the Capitol Square, there are many signs of the ongoing fight.  There's a house in my parents' neighborhood that has been very clever with their signs (my favorite one was: stealing our signs /  won't change our minds / recall Walker).

Tues 004Tues 005


Being a shopgirl and in a more public setting, I have some advantage in that I see people, every day, gathered around our button table, laughing and sharing stories.  We've had a lot of out of state visitors this summer, namely teachers on cross-country trips who had to come to Madison to show their support.  Isn't that sweet?  I have never felt so much the weight of the country looking at our state to see what will happen.  No pressure, or anything. Our button sales have certainly slowed since late February, but we passed the 14,000 mark this week and I take comfort (not just from the money, but from the message as well).

I did finally use #wiunion on our seldom active Twitter account (anthology218), at the suggestion of a customer.  Just like adding protest pins to our Etsy shop, I'm going with the "better late than never" approach.

And we have certainly continued to think up new buttons.  As Sachi says, unfortunately, they keep giving us new material to work with.  I am still quite fond of my chicken series, even though I really don't care for chickens, except for eating, and even though my brother-in-law, rightly, thought that the language was more suited to my sister.


I take perhaps too much satisfaction in the popularity of our "OMG" button, though I'm really not 100% happy with the Dems either.  Does it just feel like politicians are playing their games of power and money and utterly unconcerned with the people that this nation is supposed to be of, for and by?  Gop
But since I know no other way of being, I'll just continue on my little path of making and doing and being.  I am happy that I have this new Pinterest addiction.  I have found great visual inspiration, as well as inspiration in text, thus distracting myself from politics, in between making buttons.  One of favorites: "Don't ask what the world needs.  Ask what makes you come alive and go do it.  Because what the world needs is more people who have come alive." - Howard Thurman

We enjoyed incorporating customer suggestions into the series of dog buttons:

 Dogs 002Dogs 001

And couldn't resist a button based on a recent newspaper typo.  A teacher was quoted as saying she was not a "union pug;" we're pretty sure she meant "thug," but the image was impossible to resist.  And, yes, we realize this is an insult to dachshunds, but it has also been a popular button.

  Buttons 004

Other recent buttons:

Shopthursday 006 Shopthursday 005Katieb 005Buttons 005

And we were pleased to get permission from artist/customer Carl W. to use his work for a button and postcard, the great "Now Settle Down, Kitty" design.

Sunday 016

This still remains one of my favorite buttons, and my little talisman for moving forward in this world.

Arb 027

invitation progress

Well, I'm making progress on the invitations.  At times, the fun of the process makes me think, 'hey, we should offer this service at the shop.' At other times, the volume of the process makes me think, 'wait, WHY did I start all this stamping?  and will the last 50 people really know that their invites look different than those of the first 50 people?'

Still, I've been having fun.  I'm slowly making my way through the stitched garlands.  Less than one quarter left.  It is kind of fun to cut all those little triangles, handing paper scraps from the larger garland kits I made for the shop.  And, of course, it was fun to peruse the color swatch book from our Chicago paper company.

Sunday 012

I've gone through several variations and possibilities for envelope decoration but decided to go with paint and foam stamps (as opposed to rubber stamps).  A while ago, I purchased a set of foam stamps with different flowers.  I'm layering those with a variety of colors of paint.  Trying not to get carried away.  Inevitably, I take my projects one step past where I should have stopped, though I'm somewhat bothered by the lack of coordination between the inside and outside.  Still, since there are 50 more envelopes to go, it would probably be fine to call it quits on the first batch.  I already put the address labels on because I wanted to stamp over them a little bit.  The result is that I can't show you the entire envelope without giving away someone's address.  But here is a sampling:

Monday 001 Monday 003 

I really like the layers of different colors and shapes.

And, yeah, I couldn't let it go.  So... one, or two, more layers of paint - an acid green and a coral - and now, I think, I'm done.  At least with the front side of half of the envelopes.

Today I'm going up to the post office and crossing my fingers that they have stamps that half-way coordinate.  Ordering stamps from Zazzle seems like an extravagence, but perhaps a necessary one.  Oh, and if you think all this talk of color is bad now, you should have seen me 25 years ago when EVERYTHING had to match.

And then on to some sort of guest book.  Naturally, I'd love to repeat the stamped flower theme so someone more ambitious would make their own book.  As it is, I think I'm going to get some blank sketch books from Artist & Craftsman supply, or from our shop, if the right storybooks arrive.  And so, since I'll be working in a readymade book, where I can only paint one set of pages, wait for them to dry, and then paint another set, it is highly unlikely that I'll get around to painting as much as I'd like.  Maybe there will be some combo of altered book pages.  I still have a month to work on that so you know I'll get carried away.  I'd really like to collect one picture from each year and put them into the guest book for people to look at as well as add their messages to.  We'll see how organized the photos are in the Komai archives (just a hint: not really).  My friend has already picked out her pictures and I started last night.  It's kind of hard to pick just one picture.  And there's a definite gap in the middle school/high school years.  And one picture per year means only four pictures of me with the adorable girl?  How can I possibly choose?