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new year, new/old projects

So, first of all, with the new year I am going to make official what has been true but unstated: I am aiming to write a blog post once a month. I don't want to set your expectations too high and I think that pretty much matches how last year ended up. Work is busy! I really thought after our 5 year anniversary that things would settle down a bit but I think that was ... naive. At least I've managed to get over that feeling of being overwhelmed that hit me after our 5th birthday party, helped in part by excellent part-timers and my improving ability to delegate. That said, there are always bright and shiny things to capture my attention. I really appreciate the opportunity to sit down and write this blog though so I definitely plan to keep going. If you want a more immediate (visual) sense of goings on in the shop, I do recommend our Instagram or Facebook account. I post pictures there several times a week.

And already a week has gone by since I started this post. Let's see, what have I been up to? My main focus this time of year is... ugh... taxes and end of year stuff. We have to inventory the entire shop so there is lots of counting and math and organizing, then I have to get all the paperwork ready for the accountant and the tax preparer. There is still a pile on the desk to work on. I'm already starting to get calls about advertising for the coming year and I haven't even had a chance to sit down and assess the year before. And even though this is a time of cleaning up and summarizing, we can't help but look ahead and start to plan for the coming year... or more. Sachi is already working on our May trip to New York for the Stationery Show; I'm starting to think about how we are going to celebrate our 10th anniversary (in 2018). Should be something big, and fun, right? I'm thinking maybe a buying trip overseas and a party at the library or some other nearby downtown spot. Our fifth anniversary party in the shop was a tight fit and I'd really like a bigger shebang. We'll see how that all shapes up. 

Besides all the planning and paperwork, I have two non-Anthology projects that I'm working on: a color swatch piece as part of an exhibit during Forward Theater's production Mr. Burns (in April). The general theme is what you'd take with you into a post-apocalyptic world. What came to my mind was the children's book Frederick. Do you remember that one? All of Frederick's mouse family and friends spend summer and fall gathering seeds for the winter but Frederick just sits on a stone. When they quiz him about why he isn't working, he says he's gathering something else for winter. Late in winter when their stores are running low, the mice gather around and Frederick regales them with stories of the colors of summer and the warmth of the sun. Anyway, as I've been thinking so much lately about how my life is constantly circling around to sorting colors, I could totally see myself sitting around a campfire, telling stories about colors, shuffling through these little squares and having discussions (as always happens with color) about how each person's memory is different - the blue of the easy bake oven is greener than that, wasn't the Felicity Merriman's dress more pink? and so on. We did have a fun session on Saturday on Pinterest looking at vintage toys and things from childhoods of various eras. I filled in a lot of color swatches from my own memories but there were about 20 that stumped me so I had to diversify. But it was probably for the best to add Lincoln Logs. For the exhibit, the finished piece is 16" x 20" so I'm using melted beeswax to attach the individual squares. I'm still working out the technicalities of attaching the squares - having a bit of a battle between me and the wax, but I have about a month yet to work it all out. 



The other project that has been taking up much of my time is a set of Blurb magazines. I've really been wanting to do more collaging using my own images and I finally decided that for sheer quantity, it would be more economical and efficient to make a Blurb magazine than to arrange all my photos in Photoshop and then send them out for color printing. The first volume was 240 pages (the maximum allowed) and I'm on to volume 3. Basically, I'm going through all my flash drives, the hard drive, the iPad, arranging photos on pages by color and then arranging them in the magazine (also by color). So, no chronology, no captions, strictly picking out images for collaging. This is, in part, preparation for a Kelly Kilmer workshop I am taking in October, but now all my photos will be available for future collaging. It's been quite an endeavor to sort through all the pictures but volume one turned out so great that I am really pleased and excited for more. Volume one was through 2013 (starting with my first digital camera - no, I'm not even dealing with any of the negatives or earlier years - maybe that's for volume 4), volume two was 2014 and 2014, plus a trip to Italy whose flash drive I couldn't find when I was working on volume one. Volume three is heavier on selfies and family pictures so a little more personal (whereas I already have a few requests for volumes 1 and 2). Ultimately, not to be morbid, I'm thinking this could be a cool funeral magazine - or is it too egotistic to think that someone would want a magazine memento of me? Well, it would be a lot shorter than 240 pages. But when I think of the people who are no longer in my life, I think I wouldn't mind having a magazine that has their pictures/inspirations/thoughts.


So, basically, after fretting that I wasn't spending enough time frivolously creating, that's all I've been doing here at the start of the new year.

Meanwhile, Sachi is working on a new print for the shop (a Madison alphabet). Plus at least three new card designs. I have to catch up.

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And in other store news? We've done a little post-holiday restocking though there's still a ways to go. January and February are relatively quiet though so we sort of gradually restock. I did get more of our popular Wisconsin ornaments back in. I expect they will be popular with the summer tourists and also I needed them for some of our upcoming ads.

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I've noticed that stickers are still a popular item so we decided to expand our display so everyone can get a better look at the assortment. Not ideal, I know, but for now, it will have to do. I'll definitely be on the lookout for something more charming than slat wall.

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 Yesterday I revamped the window - finally took down the rest of Christmas (the lights) which involved the tall ladder and a more thorough rearrange (emptying lots of cubbies, putting some things back in the office now that there's a little more room there). Sachi set up a little Valentine supply section at the front of the store and we will soon add the Valentine card making station at the craft table. 

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Oh, and we got a Totoro coloring book in, and more of the desk signs which have been so popular.





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We certainly hope your new year is off to a creative and productive start!