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August 2014
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October 2014

book works

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I had a fun evening last night at Pinney library as part of our ongoing partnership with The Bubbler, Madison Public Libraries (and the Friends of). There have been many great opportunities to work with artists from around our community through these programs - I recommend you keep an eye on the calendar. I have an altered travel journal workshop coming up at Alicia Ashman as well as a batik tag workshops at 2 and 4:30 on December 8 (not yet available for registration) and Sachi will be teaching tags & garlands at Pinney and Monroe Street in November. And there are many other offerings from the many talented makers in our community.

In other book news, I will be going to Middleton High school in October for a book show n' tell and discussion with an art class there. I'm looking forward to gathering the various projects and forms and sharing them with the students!

I still haven't figured out what I'm making for my 2x2 book for our holiday trade in the art group I'm a member of. Last year, I had my book done by January so I'm feeling a little behind. I did cut paper for one book... but the structure is rather ... not complicated or difficult, just time consuming, so I'm procrastinating about that. Mostly I've been sorting through my collage papers and trying to reduce the bulk (one of these days, I am going to have to move my sewing studio from my parents' basement so I'm trying to make room for that) and working on my purple/blue/gold moon and star collage series for our holiday window. Play play play.

circus! circus!

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I don't know. Should we just assume that for a Komai to be busy and feel a little behind is really just a default setting and said Komai should just shut up about all that? It is clear from seeing my mom, that there might be something genetic about the quantity of things on my to-do list. I'm not quite sure what it is about this year. Perhaps it is just that I let my guard down. In the middle of our sixth year in business, there are some things that have definitely settled down, even as other work has been added - we weren't doing any advertising at first and now I'm spending time writing ad copy and picking out merch, not to mention that only our Mother was helping us at the shop and now I have to draw up a schedule for three other people, not to mention the pesky audit in the summer (TONS of work only to confirm that I am paying all our taxes as I am supposed to). I don't know if it is just a matter of everything in the past always looking rosy - I know darn well that I was working hard those first few years we were in business. There is certainly some level of uncertainty that has eased and also a fair amount of learning that has taken place (and thus some level of scrambling which has been eased). Given that sales have doubled since we first opened, it is not illogical to assume that there are some ways we are working more than we were back then. I have to keep telling myself that. But, seriously, I feel like I've been working so hard this year! Thank goodness for our part-timers. Who, it must be said, have given me a feeling of working hard but being totally exhausted and overwhelmed as I was last summer. I was close to snapping at someone and feeling rather desperate about the upcoming holidays. I'm feeling a little better this time around... though apparently not so great that my dream life is unaffected. I had a dream a few nights ago where we were driving in a car that was going very fast down a steep hill and I wasn't sure of the direction and thought I might have to turn around but couldn't seem to find a place to make a u-turn. Welcome to the dream life of a control freak heading into the holiday season! There is still a lot of work to be done, and there is a lot of money committed to the endeavor.... and then we'll reach that point where all the work is mostly done and we are just hoping that Mother Nature treats us kindly. In the meantime, there is still much to be done.

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The Overture's 10-year anniversary celebrations are coming up soon, with a grand circus theme. We'll be donating 10% of our sales that weekend to Overture, and I changed the window in honor of the event. I still have more work to do on the tissue paper tassels though I'm otherwise happy with the cheery window. The pieces for my holiday window are also coming together so now I just have to figure out the window between those two, and also make up my mind up about the holiday postcard we send out. I was doing a little work in one direction... but I'm really not sure that's the direction I want to go, even though I spent almost a whole day editing the images in GIMP. There's something to be said for doing things with actual paper and scissors and not getting distracted by all the digital possibilities. Once again, contributing to my own sense of busyness.

We got two new fixtures from IKEA early in the week so most of my time was spent rearranging, assembling, and trying to figure out how to move furniture without injuring myself. Thank goodness, my brother-in-law loaned me his power screwdriver. I love it!

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The office still feels like a bit of a disaster area to me, but I have materials pulled for my upcoming library workshops so that's adding to the problem. I'm feeling anxious because I know I have a lot of orders that I placed with a 10/1 or 10/15 ship date and the looming feeling that a lot of boxes are coming our way is not helping my general state of mind. But at least the fixtures fit where I thought they would. I wanted to open up some more display space so we swapped dressers for open shelving... which, unfortunately, means I lost some storage space of drawers and now have even more things looking for homes in the office. I know the last time I wished for more space, we ended up having the entire Central library to decorate, but, really, as Brian Andreas says, I AM quite convinced I can do everything I've ever dreamed of with just a bit more space. I have a couple other areas in the store which are in need of some tweaking, but I think I will be done for now until after the holidays.

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At home, I dealt with some of my clutter enough to clear off my worktable and quickly fill it back up again. I'm working on a trio of collages for the holiday window which started out as backdrops for necklaces and have quickly morphed into being way to full of elements to be useful as background. But I'm having fun.  I think they will work well with the items I'm hanging above everything - samples of our wrapping paper in embroidery hoops, those fanned out paper medallions that everyone seems to be decorating with...

In other project news, I finished up green garlands for church - slightly overdue for the everyday/summer season prior to Advent. But better late than never. Mom and I installed some of them last week. We liked the mix of Pentecost red/oranges (yes, yes, I know, this is all off season ... but we're casual that way) with the greens so we did a 50/50 mix and will complete the transition in a few weeks. Then, I think, something completely different for a few months, and the restart the garland season with one more new batch that I still have to sew, debuting Easter morning - a rainbow of pastel florals... at least that's the plan for now.

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I also finished up, in the nick of time, the girl's 7th birthday party dress, which I ended up getting rather carried away on: sponge stamped snowflakes in white and silver paint along the hem (using paint to limit the unraveling, rather than actually sewing a hem), glued snowflake confetti on the cape... Now on to the Halloween costumes.

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Besides moving furniture and merchandise around in the store, we've had some unpacking this week as well: fun painted ornaments, party balloons and prize ribbons,


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new t-shirts and neckties to add to our regional collection (don't ask me why we haven't had Great Lakes neckties before),

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stamped silver quotation necklaces (which I can never resist),

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calendars (including, finally, Rifle Paper, which was causing me some vexation with shipment delays... never mind that all the big chain stores already had them... so, yes, I took it personally),
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stamped pottery and constellation necklaces from Milwaukee and bright fabric albums and accessories from California.

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And, yes, I know you don't want to hear this, but we are gathering a great collection of boxed holiday notes. In the interest of getting more people to write more letters, sale of boxed notes will once again be our big "Black Friday" weekend push (and great deal).
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On a good note, I finally signed back up at the health club so I can take yoga and other exercise classes. I had let that slide after our first year or so due to finances. When I hear people talk about how they are feeling stressed and/or how they don't have time in their life for things, I nod in agreement yet I have come to realize that I wasn't really sure what it was that I was missing out on. I mean, yes, I am an introvert and I have to spend time being nice to people, but I really do have a pretty big chunk of quiet time to myself in my evenings, I was able to read a lot of good books this summer, and I have plenty of time to work on craft projects so I am not frustrated in that respect. But there's a different quality to time spent quietly in yoga vs. time spent sitting in my living room watching TV and working on a collage. I was missing that time. So, that's good at least. And perhaps you won't have to hear as much about how I'm falling behind and have so much to do... ha ha ha.... Well, if you aren't used to that by now, I don't know how to help...

winding down....?

But not really. Around me is a flurry of back-to-school preparation and end-of-summer last-chance activities. It feels mostly tangential to my own life, though I'm not looking forward to our early morning post-sleepover trip to school. Honestly, I don't know why kids have to start school so early. But, anyway, I generally feel like summer goes into September, especially because my end-of-August birthday with its accompanying +/- month celebrating helps. Does not help with any sense of calm, of course. But really, it's already Christmastime in my retail world so there IS no rest for the weary/wicked.

Then this arrived to the shop. So true. We Komai women are busy women.

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We did manage a quick getaway to Chicago - to Mitsuwa (whoa - the bookstore there has substantially expanded their stationery/desk supplies/Hello Kitty section - we were in heaven!) and Ikea (can't help looking for a few more fixtures).

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As a surprise for our dad, we went to Sushi Station, a conveyor belt sushi restaurant which is as close as we can get to the sushi boats going around the bar that he always reminisces about from a trip to San Francisco. It was a pretty fun experience, we were mesmerized by the plates of sushi going by and I think he was quite happy with the surprise.

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I've been working on some painting and garland-making at home, preparing to convert the Pentecost oranges and reds (yes, I know I'm late) to greens...  better get that done before I have to go straight to purple for Advent. I'm painting some canvases for our holiday window and torn between getting carried away with collage as I usually do and remembering that these are supposed to just be background for product. I am trying to spend a little more time dealing with the clutter in our office and in my foyer - instead of just complaining about how overwhelmed I am feeling with all the clutter. I am aware that my holiday orders will be coming in soon, and I will have to do a lot of crunching to make room.

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Sachi and I have both been busy with our own projects for the shop. Sachi has added a toddler tee for the lil' cheese curd design.  There's a certain age after which we feel a child would no longer be so fresh that they squeak but people are requesting similiar designs for all ages. We'll have to see what she can come up with for grownups.

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 Meanwhile, I got two of my prints back from the printer. One started as an original drawing, which I scanned, and then had to spend a lot of time filling in pixels. I can still see some flaws but didn't want it to be so smooth that it lost the hand-drawn effect. I'm quite pleased with the print, and thinking of how many other different color combos I can do - nothing I like more than to spend time playing with color....

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Last night I taught an altered Golden Book workshop at the Middleton Public library - always a fun workshop. I'll be teaching the same workshop at Alicia Ashman and Pinney later in the month.

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We're in the middle of back-to-school decorating flurries here at the shop, as students return to downtown and stop in for papers to decorate their dorms and apartments. The constellation paper is always especially popular.

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We also got a bunch of t-shirts this week, including three brand new designs: Great Laker, Pop and Midwest is Real.

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And though we missed the high summer tourist season opportunity, we did finally get Goodnight Loon back in store. Hopefully we won't have as much trouble with delivery for the holidays. The author switched to a bigger publisher which just reinforced my general opinion of the publishing business -- mostly that they wouldn't be in nearly as much trouble if they made it easier for small stores like ours to buy from them. I have never met an industry as hard to spend money with as the book industry.

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In conjunction with Overture's 10Fest, we're planning a circus-themed window for later in September. Lucky for me these cute animal party supplies have arrived just in time. The alphabet plates are particularly fun and would make cute garlands, if you could think of enough words to spell with just one set of the alphabet. I'm planning to fill the window with a bunch of different garlands so those will be a fun addition.

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