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August 2013
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October 2013

week in review

It's been both busy and quiet this week. September is typically a quiet month for us as the summer tourists head back to work and school. But that gives us time to get ready for the holidays. I apparently had a very tiny window for clearing out the office - unfortunately I did not get as far as I anticipated. There's a big desk piece of furniture that I would like to move out to make room for more efficient shelving but I thought I'd at least give a shot at Freecycle, which adds more steps to the process. Now I'm not sure if I should push to get it taken care of before the holiday shipments start arriving or if I should wait until after I install the rest of the window (and get those pieces out of the office). It is true that some part of my mind is always preoccupied with empty space, how to fill it, and how to create it... it's like that little game with the tiles of numbers and only one available space to move things into.

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In the meantime, I did tweak the window to prepare for Halloween. I know that everyone says it is a big holiday and people are spending lots of money on it, but, honestly, I just haven't been able to find product that really charms me. So, while we do have some cards and suitably colored straws, and some adorable masks on order, I'm afraid the window is more of a collection of fall- and disguise- related items. While not precisely Halloween, the moustache game has been popular and seemed like a suitable window element.

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 We also got our holiday order of stamped pottery this week. That's always a fun task as the artist brings several boxes from Milwaukee for me to pick from. The bicycle images have been popular so I got more of those, but I also like the new feather design to go along with my holiday window plans.


Sachi picked up a few new artists on our trip to Renegade in Chicago - the letterpress Wisconsin print already arrived this week.

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And, after some delay, we received more of the messenger bags which were an unexpectedly popular find from the Atlanta trade show.  We are particularly fond of the applique birds on a branch.

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And in other news, I've continued my work on my circle book - most of the pages have their painting/pattern, now I'm adding text in. Pinterest has been particularly useful: I just search for circle/journey/path quotes and have found some new ones to add to my pages.

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so much paper goodness

My brain is spinning and my feet are aching.

Last night we went to Stacked, the pre-opening party for the new downtown library (with grand opening festivities continuing all weekend long). Oh la la! It was such a fun and lively event; it was great to see so many people out - it seemed like a great way to launch the new space. We walked all around and explored all sorts of nooks and crannies... and then moaned about how tired we were the whole way home, only to find that it was just 10:15. We noticed the library staff had shifts lasting until 2 a.m. and the party was only just beginning when we left. There were all sorts of performance and other art pieces all around; I particularly liked all the oracles asking and answering questions. And I really like these shelves of book covers - look at all those lovely colors and patterns! After two years of construction, we are really excited to have our library back just two blocks away.. and all the many new features are very tempting (they have a digital/AV area where you can learn all sorts of things, like PhotoShop which I've always been curious about, not to mention the awesome maker space, the Bubbler which will have an assortment of crafty offerings. And a lovely gallery on the third floor. Kudos to everyone involved!  We are quite giddy with this new addition to our downtown neighborhood, and feeling quite proud of our city.

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In store news, we've been busy with an assortment of new arrivals this week. We have some new fall scarves and accessories, but the bulk has been in the paper category. I put down the last coat of paint and put the window back together a bit more, and then quickly filled up the new shelving with all our new notecards. I'm quite happy with the new arrangement - I don't feel as much that we settled by staying in this space instead of moving to a new space which would have been a lot of time and work .. and money.

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 And in my own studio news, the work on my painted pages book goes on. I've been stitching my photographs onto pages and still have some more of that. Then it will be on to the writing, much of which can be done after the book is bound. Which means we are soon coming to the time for me to learn the coptic stitch.  Fun fun fun ? In the local history room at the library they have some of the books from the Sixty Books Project that I participated in. One of the books was made by me and others have pages that I worked on. I have no clue how I made that book though  - I'm going to have to go back and study it. But I think that I want a book with an open spine for this new book, because all the pages will look so cool. So that style of book (with a covered spine) probably wouldn't work even if I could remember how to make it.

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feeling quite pleased with myself

But first I'll share the new arrivals because it seems I've been rather lazy about that lately. I'm still working on the rearranging in the store. One of the card spinners arrived damaged so I didn't get as far on that part of the project. And the window ledge is gradually getting painted - I added another coat today. One more coat and then I can put all the pieces back in their temporary pre-Christmas arrangement.

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I came to work today to find a flurry of new arrivals from yesterday. I recall an assortment of 9/15 ship dates so there may well be more things coming this week. I might be happiest with these papergoods which are charming me all over again - notepads with quotes on the bottom, little notecards with typed quotations...   I just love text. 

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On Sunday I thought it was going to be a quiet and somewhat boring day but then a customer pointed out that we were out of the stamped Wisconsin charm necklaces. I made one at her request and then did a bunch of stamping for a batch of new ones. They have been quite popular this year.

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We also received more vintage Wisconsin images on postcards and magnets, initial necklaces, bright straws, lovely ceramics, yo-yo and tie-dye scarves, and more lake papercuts.

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Meanwhile, I have continued to work in the evenings on my painted pages. The book just keeps getting bigger and bigger. I had a realization last night - an artist friend created an amazing book with mica pages and quotations and nature images. As she was working on it, she told me that she had once been told that everyone should have their own Bible. Not THAT Bible, rather a book that is one's own personal story and touchstone. As she had been working on her book, she came to realize that it was her bible... and suddenly last night I realized that is what I am working on. Initially it was going to be "fortysomething for my fortysomethings" - filled with quotations specific to this moment and my journey. But there are definitely more than fortysomething pages and will be many more words than that. And since I stumbled across my middle school yearbooks, I've also been thinking more about the paths we are all on, the ways we sometimes end up circling back upon ourselves...  SO, I think that's where this book is headed. There is plenty of space on the pages still so I can add quotations and texts that are meaningful. I finally sat down and picked out a bunch of photographs so I can pick those up tonight and sew them onto the pages. Last night I worked with pen and ink and wrote little snippets of song lyrics about paths/journeys/circles. The pages that I stitched circles of paper onto are about 12" wide and 5" tall - and on their back side they now have a single line of stitching... onto which I am writing these short lines of text (the pages that are painted will have room for longer text). In doing so, I came across this quotation which really appeals to me and seems perfectly in/appropriate to be in my Bible.

"the only mofos in my circle are people that I can learn from."

Now, I'm really not an expletive kind of person so that is a little out of the ordinary for me. But I like the way it captures people in your life who might be a negative component and turns them into a learning experience.

Besides the painted pages, scrapbook papers and sewn pages, there is a set of batik papers that I finally got to dye on Sunday. I had applied melted wax in various lines and circles and had also added key words for the book.

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Totally by accident, I ended up with some of my favorite pages. Since these pages are going into a book, the back side will be visible, so on Sunday I added a bit of a wash on those sides, just so they would look a little more purposeful. All of my browsing of random marks on Pinterest and thoughts about circles combined spontaneously and led me to quickly brush circles onto the backside of each page - just to give it a more cohesive look. And since they were still looking like the backsides, I decided to do some more pen and ink work (I'm having so much fun with the calligraphy nib and sumi ink!) before I added the last coat of wax and made it totally impervious to writing. There are some actual words that I wrote, but also just some scribbling... and I am really loving the way it looks. 

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painted pages work in progress

Well, honestly, there's not that much to say. I just thought I'd share the progress on my painted pages which will eventually be a (very thick) book. The overall theme is - circles, paths, quotatiosn for my 40s....  Yes, it's a little vague. But I'm thinking this will be a cool book to write various texts into.

Being me, any page that's totally blank is one I know will be intimidating so I'm working my way through creating smaller blocks for text or whatnot. I am also going to stitch in some of my own photographs in coordiating colors. This week I decided that I would convert some of the still-blank pages into circle diagrams of one sort or another. They are loosely modeled after game spinners or pie charts, but only loosely (they might not be totally logical). I did some painting with watercolor pencils and will also be adding text.

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Last night I created some that are just written in pencil - answering various questions or what not. One is a wheel of fortune, another answers: what will you do? I'm really loving the look of these pages.

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Last week I brought my sewing machine to where I am housesitting and stitched some pages with circles of our wrapping paper and other scraps. The back side of those pages will have a line of text along the stitched line.

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It's somewhat interesting to me that I've been in a gold and warm tone mood. These are not particularly my colors - I'm really a blue/purple person, but the yellows and golds in fashion seem to have worn me down... or perhaps there's something about where I am right now that demands a pop of red/orange/yellow. In any event, I am really loving the colors of this book. I treated myself to a trip to Archiver's and got some scrapbook paper - onto which I will sew my photographs.

Here's a floor shot of the assortment of pages that are going into this book. It's not the whole array... so you can see it is getting to be quite a big book. When I put all the pages together (the painted pages are the outside of each signature), the spine looks super cool, but I can see that I'm setting myself up for a lot of sewing....

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temporarily finished

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The grand finale window will be installed mid-November. In the meantime, there are a few phases.

1. deconstruction. Happened this week when the carpenter came and ripped out part of the window ledge. Happily, it all went smoothly. There was some concern that hidden underneath the ledge would be a hole into the basement, something which would require a much longer process. There was, however, a large duct in the corner, so I was unable to take out as much of the ledge as I first thought. Nonetheless, it does make a difference. Though it might not buy us much square footage, it is nice to be able to walk up to the window - and now I don't have to worry about falling out of it again.

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2. paint drying. Well, first there is some caulk and some filler that has to cure and dry. Then I will have to prime and then paint what is left of the window ledge. It probably won't get done until after the weekend.


3. temporary set-up #1. The window ledge is unavailable for a little while but there's only so long I can go with nothing in the window. As it is, someone came in today and said we gave them a bit of a scare at the thought that we were closing. Perish the thought! I put the clotheslines back up and filled them so there's something facing out even if it isn't the full assortment. And some of the things that were displaced have been put back. Should be good for the weekend and then I can get a rough idea of what permanent changes need to be made. We regularly have a bottleneck towards the front of the store so I'm hoping I've fixed it a little bit.

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4. temporary set-up #2. After I do the priming and painting, I will put the window back together and hang things on the side wall and arrange a little more to last us until...

5. ta-da! and then in November I will finish up with the rest of the new fixtures and a new display which will hopefully give us plenty of flexibility for the holidays and beyond. After we celebrated our five-year anniversary back in March, we started giving more thought to our next five years. This window rearrangement and construction is part of the plan and it is fun to see the changes begin.

getting carried away

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This is shaping up to be a crazy thick book. I'm quite sure I will regret getting carried away once it comes to actually sewing it together. But in the meantime, I am enjoying myself. Last night I melted wax and applied text and swirls onto sheets of cream wrapping paper printed with navy constellation maps. I will be using red/orange/purple/blue dyes on those to create batik pages. That is in addition to the pages pictured above: scrapbook paper that will have my own photographs stitched onto it, solid pieces of paper with circles of wrapping paper scraps stitched on one side and lines of text hand written on the other side and my painted pages from the workshop. I have been spending hours each night working on the pages and it has been such a treat to really sink into a project. I haven't really had time or energy this summer. I'm thinking of this book as my "fortysomething for my fortysomethings" and will fill it with quotations and notes. The theory was forty pages and forty quotations. There might be more than that. I used to avidly collect quotations but I noticed, as I was looking over my collection recently, that some of them don't speak to me as much as they used to. Time for an upgrade.

As far as the shop is concerned, I feel like things are a little up in the air at the moment.  For a planner such as myself, that's a little stressful. But I did spend a lot of time on the phone this morning and nailed down some deadlines. At the show in Atlanta, I ordered some fixtures which I knew were coming on a truch from Memphis sometime after the 1st of September. Not knowing when this truck would show up was making me anxious. But I tracked it down today and now I know that I have until Monday to clear the space. Naturally Tuesday is the day the guy is coming to take away our window platform. While he works up front for two days, I will have to shift things from the front of the store out of his way. Add the new fixtures in there, and it is going to be close quarters around here next week. I planned all this for September so it could be all taken care of well before the holidays, but it means I will have to wait a bit before I can do the full rearrange. I am trying to keep the new window arrangement for our holiday window. The waiting is killing me. As you might have already noticed.

In other store news, the beginning of a month marks a new spate of shipment arrivals. I think I am perhaps most pleased with our collection of calendars. At my old job, we had one particular company who was the breadwinner; it was somewhat hard for me to break out of thinking about that specific company. Additionally, we worked hard this year to find some calendars that were  more up our alley than the conventional calendars which, essentially, can be found anywhere you look. I am quite pleased with our assortment. I am especially fond of the Rifle Paper series but the colors and designs of the Paper Source calendars are also especially nice this year. And of course, Nikki is lovely, and Papaya is creatively inspiring as always (though I have to admit that I've had some rumblings of personal discontent since the spirit and creativitiy of their work particularly doesn't seem to mesh with outsourcing the printing).

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We have continued to add to our Wisconsin collection. The Forward Wisconsin bicycle t-shirt has been popular, and we were excited to get Farmer's Market prints and tote bags. Even though we are just two blocks from the Farmer's Market we still get a lot of tourists in the middle of the week who aren't going to be in town on Saturday and who have been requesting such items. Not that we can accomodate every request, but it is nice to at least be able to say yes when someone asks, even if it ends up not being exactly what they had in mind.

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And even though the calendar page has flipped and the leaves are starting to turn, I'm still treating this mostly as summer. We've been enjoying the tomatoes from a friend's garden, and also enjoying the functions on my new camera - I could go around picking out single colors of every single picture I take, also applying the toy camera filter....

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all right, just a peek


Well, all right, just a peek. These are the pages that I'm working on from the Whispering Woodlands workshop. Many of the pages had some lines and a little color on them but they were created in groups of three. After some thought I've decided they are going to be in a book - I just don't think they'll be that good for hanging on the wall. So now I've been working to connect all the pages together - working some repeated shapes and color combinations, adding ink lines to all the pages, adding more compass and ruler lines as well.


At this point, I am thinking that the colored side will be the outside of the folio and the back sides will be mostly black and white, with perhaps a little splash of a single color. I accidentally discovered some primitive suminagashi kind of thing going on so I am doing some of that on the back sides. Random but lovely. My bookmaking skills are rather primitive and while I was thinking about a single signature structure as I've used for travel journals, I'm starting to think it might be time for me to learn the Coptic Stitch. I think that might work well for these pages.

SumiRight now I am purusing all the artist journal books in the studio where I am housesitting, finding particular inspiration in Journal Fodder 365 by Eric M. Scott and David R. Modler, and Unfurling by Misty Mawn. I'm thinking this is going to be a 40 for my 40s book - a collection of 40, more or less, quotations and words of wisdom for this current decade of my life. I will mostly put the text on the black and white side but the Journal Fodder 365 book has some interesting ideas for putting text onto journal pages. Lots of ideas to play around with.

I am also, at this moment, waiting for paint to dry. Sigh. I am really impatient to keep working - so impatient that I am seriously considering spending a little time with the hair dryer to speed up the drying process. I could go spend some time on Pinterest and start to pull together my 40 quotations...

end of summer getaway

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Well, I don't really think of it as the END of Summer, but there was that pesky calendar page turn, not to mention a sudden surge in fall-related posts amongst my Facebook friends. The month of August has gone by in a blur - Sachi was gone for two Saturdays and then I was gone; we were busy with summer tourists and getting ready for Christmas. I'm almost ready to settle into the full fall/holiday mode. Now the students are back and decorating their apartments and dorms so there's a shift from folding t-shirts to rolling up sheets of wrapping paper and taking prints down from the clothesline.

But I did manage to get away to the beach with my niece for our traditional beach getaway. We visited my childhood friend in Green Bay, finally got to the D.I.Y. Studio and Gifts and Assemblage Studio in its new location. Super inspiring! Also, the Green Bay farmer's market is so cool!  I would have stayed and eaten there, but our friends were expecting us. One nice outcome of the trip is the reminder (as is the case of pretty much all trips) of how one's life pretty much is the way one wants it. It is easy from afar to glamorize other places and lives (grass is always greener kind of thing), to feel grumpy about traffic jams in Madison or jealous about other people's washing machines, but as happy as I am to go away, I am happy, so happy, to come home.

One thing that I do really wonder about as I drive around the state is all those vacancies in downtowns and those "land for sale" and development signs in the middle of farm fields or the edges of highways. Frankly, it is a little disappointing. It feels like we are returning to the exact same way of being after a minor pause around 2008. I know that not everyone can be a shopgirl or have cute paper shops but it feels as if we are in need of some new ways of business. Maybe they are happening, just not as fast as I want them to. And I hardly expect everyone to agree with me about what kind of city is most fun to live in but I am SO not a small town girl. (I know, I know, Madison IS small town by some standards).  I love the liveliness and the mix of people downtown.

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But it is nice to get away, too. My introverted self sometimes just needs to sit on the beach. I even got to read a little bit of The Night Circus while Lily sat by my feet and worked on her drip castles.

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It was my actual birthDAY while we were at the beach so we celebrated with breakfast on the beach

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And then went on to a thorougly inspiring day: artful bathrooms (and art) at the Kohler Arts Center, which is such a dreamy space
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And then the charming Bookworm Gardens in Sheboygan. We particularly had fun with the garden kaleidoscope.

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And then it was off to afternoon sweet treats at the Craverie in Kohler

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Now I'm home and settling into a totally frivolous art project for the fall. The pages I started at the Whispering Woodlands workshop - I've thought about it a lot and I just don't really see them as stand-alone art works so I am going to bind them into a book. Right now I am still working on the painting; then it will be on to text/journaling, and then binding. Perhaps I will even learn how to do the coptic stitch finally. I will share pictures of the works in progress soon, I promise. The pages are really looking great, if I do say so myself. One side is going to be color: blue, purple, red/orange/yellow and the other side will be either black and white or plus one color, with text. Right now I am thinking of collecting some of my current inspiring quotes - sort of a book of quotes for my forties. We'll see what actually happens. I'm looking forward to exploring more ways of writing text and writing in and around the drawing and painting that has already happened.

As far as the shop is concerned, it was a quiet week - lots of tourists and students helped us end the month on a very strong note - finally catching up from the cold slow spring. There was a little lull as far as shipments but we have a batch of Sept 1 and 15 ship dates as well as Christmas orders starting to come in. In two weeks we'll start the window construction - removing the platform to make a little more space. My fixtures for the holiday window are almost done... so I'm getting really impatient for the mid-November instalation. I don't know what I'm going to do for the windows in mid-Sept through mid-Nov, without the platform or the new fixtures. Then again, so much of our display is just on the clothespins up against the window. We'll probably manage.