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September 2011

Thank you, Hamilton

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If there is just one additional stop I make on my summer trip, after the Point Beach, it is to the Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum.  How much do I love this place?  Probably not as much as someone who actually knows how to print.  But, still, a lot.  I've always loved letters and fonts; combined with my love of drawers, this place is pure heaven. It's amazing to see all the different fonts, not to mention see how they are made and used, and even to see them in use.

I feel rather proud, Wisconsin-proud, that this collection is here in our state. AND it is a working museum, because people are often printing there, though I've never done any printing myself.  Having seen the work that my sister went through for her M.F.A., I'm a little intimidated by printing presses, but perhaps I will add printing at Hamilton to my bucket list.

I have enjoyed visiting over the years and especially love to see how things change from year to year.  There are rotating exhibits so you can see everyone's recent print works (many different art departments and printing groups visit the museum to work over the course of a year).  And they've started a collection of prints for sale... and I think I might have to start my own collection of Hamilton prints.  I'm trying to figure out what wall in my home will work, and also how to display things (hmm, perhaps a Pinterest search is in order).  I might have to do some tweaking of the color schemes.

My first acquisition (twenty bucks!  a bargain!) is a navy print with silvery lettering that says : "more type is better."  That one fits the color scheme of my bedroom but it is tempting to have a whole wall of just type. 

It is quite a treasure and I strongly recommend that you make a plan to visit.  It's really not even that far to drive from Madison; if you had to, you could do it in a day, but I would recommend an overnight so you can also go to the Kohler Arts Center.


And check out this gigantic 2, with the girl for scale.

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Oh, I will also note, in light of Wisconsin's new concealed carry laws, how much I appreciate their sign:


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bittersweet, but mostly sweet

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End of August already, how can that be?  I'll have to admit that I've been feeling a little smug the past couple weeks - back-to-school, whatever... I'M not going back to school anymore, I don't have children who are going back to school... in fact, the whole thing, the sales, the supply lists, all seemed rather far-removed.  I consoled myself with the thought that MY calendar is less tied to the school year, and, hey, if I want summer to go into September, I can do that!

And yet there's no denying some bittersweet quality to this time of year. Some sense of endings and new beginnings, some residual feeling from all those years of going back to school, the anticipation of seasons changing.

Then there's that generally bittersweet feeling of time going so quickly.  There has been hardly a lull between summer tourists and back-to-school students, which means soon enough Christmas will be here and then it will be February, and then it will be summer all over again.

Going to the beach with the adorable girl for the annual cookies-at-the-beach get-together with my dear friend I've known since kindergarten, her children, and, of course, cookies, the sense of summer ending was quite strong.  We've been camping there on Lake Michigan for ages, so there is that history of childhood summers, as well as the memory of bringing Lily there when she was just a newborn.  And now she's turning four.  Sigh. 

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And even though I was feeling that summer could go for another month, there was no denying that the beach had that very quiet, end of summer feeling.

This might be exaccerbated by the fact that my 40th birthday is two days away.  Granted, I've been celebrating for most of the month, and will continue to celebrate well into October, but there's no denying a little tinge of wistfulness about time passing.

On top of my upcoming birthday, I've been thinking of the last decade in terms of a book project for the upcoming Wisconsin Book Festival.  The Bonefolders' Guild, of which I am a member, will be having an exhibit: "A Dog-Eared Decade," celebrating our ten-year anniversary.  I think I've hit upon a plan.  It started with the idea of a set of 10 mini altered books, one for each year, with a mix of ephemera and some writing.  Or maybe cyanotype pages.  I'll be reviewing my old Christmas letters but also incorporating some random scraps, which is to say that it won't be precisely autobiographical.  But I did haul out my daily planners and am suspiciously missing 2007.  That was the year that I am calling my mid-life crisis, though by Thanksgiving, things has resolved themselves into a plan to open this shop.  Still, there was quite a lot of stress going on that year and it seems rather interesting to me that I can't find the planner.  Guess my inclination not to relive it is probably accurate.

In thinking of how the series will attach to the wall and what it will be titled, I started thinking about the path I took to opening Anthology in the past 10 years and how, in hindsight, some parts of the journey were put in place long before I realized it.  SO, "hindsight is 20/20" comes to mind, as well as the idea of making the altered books from eyeglasses instead of mini books.. kind of a play on the idea of what/how we see, what we think we see, etc.  Now, off the thrift store to find a pair of glasses and see if the idea will even work.  I'll have to figure out a way to sew the pages onto the glasses.  Ah, nothing like new projects and new challenges to spark the mind.

Meanwhile, I keep circling back to a quotation that I found recently.  I first saw it on Pinterest, but it was shared today in church, and also on Facebook:

"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

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I remember, just after graduating from college, wrestling with that "what are you going to do to make the world a better place" question.  And then deciding sometime after grad school, that even though it seemed selfish, I needed to be mindful of what it was that made me happy.  I feel so grateful to be turning 40 and to have such a strong sense of what it is that brings me satisfaction on a soul-deep level, and to be able to pursue it through this career that I have created. 

So, yes, just a little bit of bitter, but mostly sweet.


boyfriends' shirt dress version 1.0

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Well, in this case it is more accurate to call it Goodwill shirt dress, but I like the name, emphasis on where the apostrophe is placed.  And how fun would this be with old boyfriend/husband/father/grandfather shirts?  After spending quite a bit of time on Pinterest, researching other people's shirt/skirt modifications, I feel pretty pleased with myself for my own variation on the theme.

This was my first go-round so there are some improvements to be made.  I thought I was going to hem it evenly and shorter, but in the end, I liked the uneven shirttail hem.  SO, for the next one, I would line up the shirt hems for the bottom of the dress.  Also, there's a little gaping going on in the top.  This morning I was ambitiously thinking of a little embroidery along the button placket.  Another possibility is replacing the simple shirt buttons with fabric covered buttons or something with a little more pizazz.  As usual, I have a hard time figuring out when to stop, when enough is enough.

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Recipe: 4 men's XL shirts + elastic.  (sewing machine, thread, rotary cutter, scissors, pins, of course).

I did know I wanted a skirt with a little more variety than one or even two men's shirts.  With three men's XL shirts as the skirt, I was dealing with a lot of fabric.  I wanted to keep the buttons and pockets of all the shirts, but ended up cutting out panels, vaguely A-line, and might have a whole 'nother skirt worth of fabric left.  Shirt fabric is a little thin for a skirt, so another option would just be to make a double-layer or wrap for the skirt and have a little more layering going on. 

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When I started, I had a more tailored kind of shirt dress in mind so I was thinking about pin tucks and pleats and a formal A-line skirt with little gathering.  Since there is a row of buttons from top to bottom, it would be possible to make this dress more fitted.  It's nice to have the option of relying on existing buttons, rather than having to put in a zipper or more buttons. 

However, I cut rather deep on the neckline and ended up feeling like an elasticized neckline would be good for modesty's sake, not to mention that I liked the peasant-top feeling of the sleeves.  I see this pattern often in children's clothes and have even made a few dresses for the adorable girl in such styles.  While I love the style and the look you get from the many lovely floral fabrics out there, a part of me worried that I was too old for the look.  But I think the men's shirt stripes bring a different less hippie feeling to the dress.

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The belt is four of the sleeves sewn together into one long line, with cuffs at either end and two cuffs meeting in the middle.  They just tie at the back (or front if you'd like), and look as if I've just tied a shirt around my waist. 

In the end, I like the combination of tailored men's stripes with the peasant dress style, not to mention the fact that the construction ended up being simpler than I thought after someone who knows better dissuaded me from going the pin tuck route.  

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that time of year

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Really?  Already?  Time to think about 2012?  Sigh.  To be honest, I still hesitate when writing checks... what year is it?  That's a function in part of the rarity of check-writing in my life  (thanks to the rise of electronic transfers), but I'm also not ready for the time to go so quickly. 

However, I've had at least two different occasions where I've found my personal calendar lacking.  There are things being planned for 2012 that I need to write down! 

So, fine.  I guess I'll get going.  It helps here at the shop that we have a lovely selection of calendars for the new year.  We were especially excited about this year's Nikki McClure calendar as it has a bicycle in one of the months.  We love her prints and have been hoping for a long time that she'd make one with a bicycle, to add to our collection.  Usually, after several months, selected calendar images are available as prints so we've got our fingers crossed.  We did order more of her calendars than last year, hopefully they will last beyond early November.

Additionally, there are other lovely wall calendars, some more functional than others (i.e. they have grids for writing calendar items).  I tend to use a simple moleskine planner that I carry with me, but I like to have some decoration on the wall that changes every month so I still appreciate a wall calendar.

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The Paper Source calendar is particularly tempting because each page has a template on the back and once the month is over, you can cut it up to make various boxes/notecards:

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Besides wall calendars, we have some smaller desktop calendars, including a set of letter-press pages which will make great coasters once the month is through. Calendars 008

We also have a few planners, many of which are not dated so you can use them as diaries or as planners for whatever time period you are on (this would be helpful for the academic year, for example, seeing as we don't have any academic planners).  Given the great assortment of photographs, I'm tempted to get one to use as a travel journal/diary.
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And, finally, we got our UPS notification that calendars from Papaya are on their way.  They've added to the collection this year with new wall and planner designs, as well as desk calendars.  So I guess there's really no excuse for me to be unprepared for 2012.

Crafternoon Delight comes to Madison


How excited are we? 

We were quite jealous when we heard about Crafternoon Delight and their exciting Sundays, including the super popular Terrariums and Mossariums.  In addition to creating a little bit of garden, this is a great way to repurpose those strange shapes of glass containers just sitting on the shelves at Goodwill that you have trouble passing by but don't know what to do with, AND also those funny little plastic animals (either at Goodwill, or at places such as Vanilla Bean - used for topping cakes, but how tempting is it to have a little ballerina amongst the greenery?!). 


We are really thrilled for the charming Deandra to be a part of bringing such craftiness to the Minneapolis area but we are selfishly glad for ourselves that she is willing to share.

Ta Da! Crafternoon Delight is coming to Madison for a visit!  They've secured space at Project Lodge on the near East side and will be hosting a terrarium extravaganza from 1 pm - 4 pm on Saturday, August 20th.


$12 will get you all the supplies and plants you need to make your own mini eden. We think it's a great bargain!  Glassware will be provided, but you are also welcome to bring your own if you have a lonely fishbowl, trifle dish, vase or other such piece sitting at home (or are inspired to head out thrifting).


Again, that's:

Saturday, August 20th from 1 pm - 4 pm

Project Lodge, 817 E. Johnson Street. Madison.


The event is on Facebook (created by Crafternoon Delight at 331 Club) and RSVPs are appreciated.

all about the print

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I've been working this year to build up our collection of prints at the shop.  I like the way that prints affect the look of the store, and find that is one easy way to give a unique, Laura- and Sachi- style to the store.

The only problem with finding new things for the shop, is that when I find things I like, I want to take them home too.  For the most part, I manage to content myself with visiting them 6 days a week.  Prints pose a particular problem for me because my walls at home are rather full already.  I know, I could take down some items and change things out a bit.  But I still love most of what's there.  We'll see what temptation I end up succumbing to.

I am most susceptible by the works by this Holmen, Wisconsin artist, whose work I first saw at the Art Fair Off the Square.  I purchased a card for myself, but then thought the prints would be a lovely addition to the shop.  I love the nostalgic feel to the old buildings.

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I'm also very enchanted by this Canadian artist's works, and pleased that Sachi finally took me up on my request to pick out some prints that reflect her taste.

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Although the college students don't go back to class until September, they are already back in town and starting the decorating of dorms/apartments/rooms. Travel posters have been very popular, as well as assorted inspiring messages.

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In addition to the many prints, we've been busy selling sheets of wrapping paper for decorating purposes.

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And a ribbon with mini clothespins is an easy way to display postcards and photographs, or any of our lovely cards.  I have often used notecards for cheap and easily-changed wall decor.  In fact, many of the notecards at the shop are ones that I first purchased for myself for decorating purposes.  They still look sweet on a little clothesline or propped up on ledges.

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egomania or fun party favor?

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Or maybe both.  Still, I couldn't resist.  A customer came in on Monday with a great reunion button project.  She had a picture of the founding parents/siblings - 8 in all.  The picture was, I don't know, from the 1960s?  She had several photocopies of the picture and, happily, the size of the faces were perfect for the 1.5" button.  We made several buttons, basically one for every child of the 8 siblings.  This reunion includes cousins who have never met, but, by their buttons, they will know immediately whose part of the family they came from.  Isn't that a great idea?  I predict the buttons will be very popular and the grandkids will want them to.  Of course, there wasn't really a button line figured into the reunion budget, but wouldn't that be fun if everyone at a reunion had the founding parents' faces on a button?

So, in the midst of stressing out over election results, I distracted myself with my own button project.  I can't help but think of that scene in "While you Were Sleeping" when she goes to her pretend fiance's apartment and all the framed photos are just of him, no one else.  A little bit of egomania to presume anyone would want a Laura button.  But I can't resist.  Since I gathered childhood pictures for the guest book, it was a relatively easy matter to photocopy them and make them into buttons.

optimism hasn't worn off yet

I've been in a surprisingly cheerful mood the last two days and trying to figure out exactly where it comes from. I should be discouraged that the Democrats didn't gain the majority in the Wisconsin Senate.  I should not be able to conquer my underlying fears that life is going to continue to get worse for a lot of people, that they will continue to misdirect their sorrow & anger with their own lives, that greater forces will continue to fuel that sorrow & anger, and that the income disparity will just continue to get worse in this country.

And yet...

Well, to be fair, this is my birthmonth.  There are lots of distractions.  I'm keeping myself busy with creative projects like birthday party buttons and the guest/wishes book.  Also trying to decide if I should wear red with polka dots or red with flowers.  Yesterday I hosted my fellow bookmakers in a summer celebration of sunshine - cyanotype printing and then a potluck picnic.  I do love parties.  That seems strange for an introvert.  Well, I like hosting them.  Any social awkwardness on my part can be covered up in the formalities of hosting.  I got carried away in the morning and added cupcakes to my list.  Even though I learned at the hands of a master, my skills are rusty so the 7 minute frosting isn't quite up to par.  Naturally, I still managed to eat more than my fair share.

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So, yes, I am easily pleased and distracted.  Vanilla Bean here in Madison has an amazing array of cupcake liners.  I held back, but stood for a long time trying to make up my mind, and also thinking about all the fun cupcake liner crafts I've seen out there. I can sense a little time on Pinterest searching for cupcake liner projects.

Clearly the happiness of this week is fueled by sugar and a little birthday giddiness.

But that isn't all. 

Leading up to the recall elections here in Wisconsin, I battled myself - fighting between natural optimism and bravery on one side, and a fear of jinxing things or dreaming too big on the other side.  I suppose cautious optimism would be where I landed.  Recognizing that winning all 6 seats would have been unlikely, consoling myself that even if things don't change within the Capitol building, there is change going on outside and that we continue on our general trajectory towards liberty and justice for all.

I think what is interesting for me to keep in mind is the recent documentary, "The Freedom Riders."  A particular moment often comes to my mind, and that is the fact that Bobby Kennedy called up the Freedom Riders organizers and said something to the effect of, 'hey, why don't you lay off this for a bit. The time isn't quite right...'  Politically, the U.S. was not ready for civil rights.  But the people kept on.  They demanded it.  They brought change to the U.S.

I remember on election night in 2008, while there was a sense of giddiness when I heard the final state called for Barack Obama, I also felt this great sense of pressure, and even a little unease.  All those people who were mobilized in 2008, all those hopes, all those promises.  How can any one person fulfill all that?  How can we overcome our desire for instant gratification and stick with our own committments to change?  Would we all share the responsibility to keep the world moving in the direction we want to see it?  Or would we get bogged down in the disappointment, in the everyday, in the slog of little details?  That night, even as I was celebrating, a part of me was silently pleading, please please, let everyone keep their own energy and their own committment.

Well, since then, my worries have not particularly abated.  I really feel that corporations and politicians have used the excuse of the economy to slide through all sorts of infringements on the lives and liberties of the American people.  I feel that power and money is being grabbed and held tightly by those who already have much and I feel that is to the detriment of our entire nation.  But when I really think about that, I realize that we have a long, long battle ahead of us.  No one is going to give up their power or their money readily.  That's just a truth. As I was driving home on Tuesday night, I passed a car with the bumper sticker, "The price of apathy is to be ruled by evil men. - Plato"   And, I was thinking about Jesus, whether you believe in him or not, who makes a good tale for challenging the established ideas of who should have power and what true wealth is.  So as specific and individually painful as these moments are, I also see that we are a part of an age-old battle.

We are not alone.  Perhaps that is what brings me back to my sense of optimism and cheer this week.  Not just because I am not alone as I celebrate my arrival to this world.  But because I have this wonderful community that is around me.  My friends and family, yes, but my customers as well.  The many people who were out knocking on doors and making phone calls, bearing witness at the Capitol.  Maybe I read too much in the buying of buttons, maybe this is my naive optimism which apparently can't be dimmed.  Maybe it's just the sugar from the cupcakes.  But ultimately, all that we have power to change is our own individual actions.  Sharing our love and passion with the world.  Strengthening our own committments to make the world a better place.

Yes, I am disappointed that the Democrats didn't win a majority in the Wisconsin Senate.  And yet, even if they did, the larger problem is our Governor and his ability to line-item veto (WHY do we still have that as an option?  I didn't even like it when our governor was a Democrat!).  It is irksome to think that Republicans are patting themselves on the back and considering this one more nail on the coffin.  Still, are 100% of the Republicans still in office still 100% confident of the path they are on?  Being the optimist that I am, I feel that they must be experiencing a little uncertainty and that such moments of uncertainty might shake some foundations just a bit.  More importantly, there was great voter turn-out.  I'm really proud to be a Wisconsinite and I'm so proud of everyone who is participating in the direction we choose for our state.  Now, if everyone who voted held their elected officials accountable, not just on election day, and not just the officials that they voted for; if everyone continues to use their voices to express the direction they want to see for Wisconsin, then we can only be on our way towards politics that really are of and by the people, all the people, not just the ones who can pay for advertising or lobbyists. 

I'll admit, a part of me was being superstitous or afraid to dream big, and so that part of me is totally thrilled with the gain of two Senate seats.  Furthemore, for a few hours on Tuesday night, when Senator not-so-Darling was trailing.... wow! What a feeling!  Hope and elation, yes, but also this little growing seed that, hey, what if you dare to ask for everything you want, and then you get it?  I mean, really, think about that.  What do you dare not hope or dream for?  What is your fondest wish or desire?  And what keeps us from asking for it?

And finally, from Wednesday, first, word from the U.S. Census bureau about the ways that the U.S. has changed in 20 years.  All along, I've felt that many of the actions we are seeing at the state and national level are the death throes of a way of life, an old white male dominated way of life, a tradtionalist way of life.  Nothing against tradition and older white males, but they are not the only people in this world.  Some people might be scared because life they used to know has changed, but there is nothing that says they can't change, adapt and prosper, and do so without detriment to the very many people we share this world with.  The U.S. has changed greatly in 20 years, and I doubt the ability of even the richest and most powerful to halt the changes.  Second, also from the morning after, along similar lines, a reminder from a wise woman I know: two strong women just got added to the State Senate.  It's a good thing.  Sachi's buttons from last week are prophetic!

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new(ish) arrivals

And now it's August? How did THAT happen?! August is my birthmonth, and I pretty much celebrate for the 30 days before and after my birthday so celebrations are well underway. Still, that shouldn't keep me from keeping up.

Even though it seemed so far away, our mid-July and August 1 ship dates from the Stationery Show are now upon us, so we've been getting more new arrivals to the shop.  I feel like it has been a while since I've shared the new arrivals, but if I'm repeating myself, I apologize.

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The Rock and Roll Alphabet is a great new baby gift, written and compiled by a Crestwood classmate of Sachi's.

I'm especially pleased to be building up our collection of local imagery, from some local artists, and from some farther away, including magnets, postcards, and prints.  The graphic design of the Madison neighborhoods map is quite clever, and the artist even modified it to include our childhood neighborhood.

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I really like this photo montage of Madison signs from a local duo.

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The "keep calm" series has continued its popularity, but we've also added some new prints from independent artists.

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There are new paper pads for card-making and collage, a great selection of washi tape,

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new stationery sets, postcards, photo albums, Golden Book journals

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plenty of new notecards that quickly filled up the extra card spinner that Sachi scrounged for us,

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inspiring bracelets from Oshkosh and necklaces from Madison, alphabet necklaces, detailed bird and flower earrings and necklaces

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And we've continued to build up the bicycle collection: necklaces, t-shirts, prints & more,

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and, yes, we're still making buttons.  The newest series is Sachi's protest pin-up girls, which have generated many comments from passerby (someone questioned whether pin-up girls would be protesting, but I'm quite sure they would).

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We also received more of the "Union Made" screen print and my new "keep calm Wisconsin" print is available.  A teacher from Wausau was already excited to share it with her friends.  Being me, I had to include "Recall Walker," but the most important line is the boldest: "& VOTE."

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