cuteness for the girl

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Yeah, that's right, I got carried away.  I can't help myself.  I've been so good about not shopping for little girl clothes but just a few minutes in the studio quickly leads to several dresses in the works.  There's so much fabric to choose from.  It's nice at this stage, because I can use many of the pieces that I have - as opposed to grown-up dresses which usually require more yardage.  I do really like this pattern from Portobellapixie.  I know, I've said that before.  It was definitely easier to cut out three dresses at once (although I regretted that approach once it was time to thread the elastic along the hem.  And I think I said that in a previous post so you know I really did regret it).  Still, I'm happy with the results, and pleased to be able to find another use for those sweet vintage hankies. Lilacdrses 002

spring, I mean it


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It's hard to be sure given the cold rain and the threat of overnight frost, but I had a lovely day at the arboretum yesterday.  The lilacs are already a bit past their peak; I can tell there's a brief window where one should go to the arb every single day.  I was too late for the peak of the magnolias this year and last year I missed the peak of the crab apples.  Ah well.  Lily humored me for yet another stroll.  Lilacs are one of my all-time favorite flowers and scents, and conjure up memories of our aqua house on Dogwood Place here in Madison.  There was a huge lilac bush on the side of the house.

Arb 016I found this dress at Saver's and just added some tulle to it.  Meanwhile I've started three dresses using this wonderful pattern from Sandi Henderson Design.  Last year I made the girl a blueberry dress, which touched the ground, and now it hits her knees.  I got carried away pulling purple floral fabrics from my collection so there's one dress in darker purples with pansies, and another in lavender/yellow/light green that has lilies of the valley and lilacs.  I have some vintage hankies and pillowcase edges that I will incorporate into the apron somehow. And, of course, while at the fabric store for a completely different errand, I found a cute cherry fabric so I started a third dress, in shades of pink and red and brown (with cherries an

d polka dots).  It was nice to cut out three dresses at once - that part was fast, so I can see the whole assembly-line thing is working.  so far.  I'm feeling ambitious and hoping to finish at least one of the

dresses in time for NYC, though perhaps I should have gone with more trendy and less sweet fabric for a city visit.  I have distinct memories of going to New York and feeling overly bright amidst all the high-heel-wearing, black-dressed, skinny New Yorkers.  That reminds me that I have to start packing.  And I don't care what they say, I'm bringing my cherry skirt.  At least it's black.

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guess i'll have to keep this in mind, aka karma

Kohler 009Oh yes, karma will get you for sure.  Last week we went to the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.  Yes, that's right, it's in Sheboygan, not in Kohler.  But, yes, it is THAT Kohler.  It is a totally wonderful museum.  They focus on "outsider" art and usually have really interesting exhibits.  An exhibit of artist books is what drew us there on this particular occasion.  But the space itself is really wonderful too.  I know that not everyone has the same taste, but when I go into a space like that, it makes me wonder why we can't have more spaces like that.  If I lived closer, I would have a big party there and make everyone come for a visit.  As it is, if you are ever in the neighborhood, or passing through on the way to Door County, I'd recommend a stop there, as well as at the Hamilton Wood Type Museum in nearby Two Rivers, Wisconsin (apparently pronounced "Trivers" though I never knew that - and I have been living in Wisconsin most of my life).

Anyway, the adorable girl came along.  Now, ordinarily, I am very mindful of everything the signs say and I was watching her very closely to make sure that she didn't touch anything, but chasing around after a two-year old is a little distracting.  And, I'll confess that as usual I was in my adoring Auntie role which includes snapping pictures at every opportunity. So I completely forgot that I was in a museum.  I only took this one picture and I've cropped it so you will just have to go to Sheboygan yourself to see what the focus of her gaze was.  Anyway, the museum guard gave me a scolding.  I'm sure that a two year old in a museum makes such a person nervous anyway so I'm also sure that I'm not imagining the close scrutiny that we were under for the rest of the visit.  Still, as someone who is very mindful of rules and perhaps overly sensitive, the scolding stayed in my mind for most of the day.  I was also sulking because I missed a couple awesome shots of her looking at art.  Don't get me wrong, it was offset by the wonderful space and the inspiring art, the great company and other lovelies such as the gorgeous Sheboygan store, NEST, and a visit to a lovely chocolaterie, a walk around a pond, and dreaming of a fantastically tiled bathroom at the Ann Sacks store.

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So, what was I sulking over?  First, that darn karma.  I mean, I totally realize that the museum and the artists need to support themselves.  In fact, it's a similar case when people come into the store and take pictures of things that we have.  Of course, I have no idea why they are taking a picture, but sometimes there is some inkling that they are taking a picture so they can go home and make the thing themselves or that they are trying to replicate some aspect of Anthology in their own store.  A part of me bristles and wishes that I could be like that museum guard.  I can't help thinking that if I can't pay rent, then I won't be here very long for people to come and take pictures and be inspired.  It's a free country, of course, and there is very little that I can do - so perhaps there is some feeling of powerlessness that adds to (or detracts from) the situation.  It is part of our mission to inspire people, to get them to create, and it is a compliment that they like something enough to record it and share it with other people.  There is the potential that the picture is the first step to an eventual sale so you can't exactly forbid it completely (unlike in a museum where the items are not for sale so a photograph does not benefit the museum.... although, I think if you had seen the photographs that I was going to take, you might have been tempted to visit the museum yourself....Did I say that I was done sulking?). 

(There was no sign outside so I think I can at least give you this picture from our stroll outside among the stone castles.  I wrote a little story about these and made them into a mini altered book.  The last time I was here with the adorable girl, she was one month old and we had to take turns walking outside with the swaddled, crying infant).

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An artist friend of mine once said that if she gains inspiration from someone's work, then she would at least pay the artist for their inspiration by purchasing something from them.  I think if we are true to ourselves, then whatever we create has our own unique quality to it, even as it also derives from other things that we see or experience.  So even if we are imitating someone else's work, it's almost impossible to exactly duplicate it, unless you are a forger and that's another matter entirely.  I try to practice that support of others' works - even just buy a postcard or something.  Just some way to thank the artist for doing what they did and for contributing to my own artistic journey. And, yes, I did make a donation to the museum.  I didn't see a postcard for some of my favorite pieces (and why not?).

There is that whole matter of copyright/credit/forgery... which is only finely separated from art/inspiration (see recent discussion by Michael DeMeng).  I mean, I don't really think there is anything that is completely of a single artist - they are inspired by people and forces outside of them so the whole matter of ownership gets tricky (see Lewis Hyde/The Gift), thus does the matter of copyright, thus does the matter of my right to draw inspiration from someone else's art, thus does my right to take a picture in a museum. But I'll try to stop sulking about that.  It just made me think about Art, accessibility, is there more harm than good, or vice versa, when I take a picture?  Are we all just constantly on the defensive, protecting ourselves from the possibility of theft and copying? can there be something that we are missing out on that could persuade us to relax those defenses?  Will I remember this feeling the next time someone is snapping pictures in the shop?

The guard did inform me that I could take pictures in the bathrooms.  They have really spectacular bathrooms there, no kidding, and you have to go visit all of them (just knock loudly.  The men's blue and white bathroom might be one of my favorites, which started that whole trip down "dreaming of riches and fame" lane that ended in the Ann Sacks tile store (I'm thinking about flat river rocks on the floor and green/blue glass tiles....).  Anyway, I'll leave you with one successful picture of the adorable girl.  Not quite as interesting as if she was peeking out of the house of words....

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changing seasons, catching up

Thursday 001Time is flying, or swinging?  But it's still October, right?  I think I've finally managed to catch my breath!  This summer was so crazy; I was so tired I was near tears for most of August, and it took me well into October to finally feel like I could face the holidays.   But now I'm ready.  I've been slacking a bit but Sachi declared that it's time for both of us to get ready for Christmas.  To that end, I have been very productive this last week: made butterfly button bracelets, scrabble tile necklaces, scrap paper packs, mini fabric button bracelets, glass square pendants, epoxy necklaces, Madison photo snippets. 

CupcakeI even made a cupcake costume for the adorable girl for Halloween.  I was inspired by the Pottery Barn catalog, but we found wide wale corduroy at the fabric store so I rigged up a litle cupcake bottom from that.  The top is a multi-layer felt cape of pink and red, with ric rac for trim.  There's a headband too with a cherry on top. 

We'll see if she actually wears that.

The leaves have been inspiring to look at; I do love the changing seasons here in Wisconsin, though it seems like autumn got real cold rather fast.  But at least that's an excuse to wear my striped hoodie from Charlie & Sarah with the camera silk screened on it. 

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Besides working on my list of projects, thinking about new projects (thanks to Valley Ridge Art Studio for the resin inspiration), placing Christmas orders with vendors and artists... Oh yeah, the Craftacular! 

Now, don't get me wrong, I am excited about the Craftacular.  I feel like it is a really important event to have and am committed to be a co-host, even if it leads to my being committed...  Let's just say it's like a full-time job all on its own, except that I'm not being paid and that's on top of the other full-time job that I'm doing.  On the whole, most artists are appreciative but of course everyone wants to make sure that they have a successful event so there are lots of questions to answer and some hands to hold.

Yesterday I was feeling very cranky and then suddenly I realized that aside from anything else, between the Craftacular, a 2x2 blurb book that I am editing and a collaborative art journal swap that I'm coordinating, I am working with over 100 people - trying to get them to reply to my emails, making sure information is correct and complete, trying to motivate without scolding or nagging...  That's a lot!  As I was stomping crabbily around yesterday I realized that I felt a lot like those New Zealand sheep dogs, trying to run like crazy to get the entire herd to move as directed.... all the more so when Ann pointed out to me that it is to be done without barking or biting.  Hmm.  What exactly is an introvert like me doing in this situation?  What was I thinking?!

And THEN, as if there wasn't enough already, we are entering into the countdown of the final days of my childhood home.  My parents will be moving next week so my apartment is a jumble of boxes that I had to take from my studio which was at their house, not to mention other odds n' ends from childhood... a box of old art projects, a box of school papers... There has to be some good art project for those.   There are emotions as well to pack up and move around but after one week of feeling overly emotional, I've been able to look forward to what lies ahead.  Having my sewing machine at my place has already been very handy, and my parents are clearly ready for a new location and a smaller house.  It's still very close compared to other people so the change is rather minimal.  I'm sure I will accidentally take the bus to their old house a few times (it's just two stops past my own bus stop).  I went with the adorable girl to see thier new house and she was already excited about the park that's around the corner. She informed me that Elmo lived in the yellow house across the park.  AND there was a dresser on the curb in front of the new house.  6 narrow drawers.. .. why, just last week I was commenting that I needed another dresser for the store!  Sweet!  I had to ride facing backwards in my brother-in-law's car, holding onto the dresser while we drove downtown, but I've already fit it into the store and filled up the drawers.  My sister says I am like water, able to expand to fill any space...  It is nice to have a little more storage space going into the holidays.  The store is really filling up!

I've been taking pictures around the old house.  Eventually they will be part of an altered book.  I have a book that is cut in the shape of a house so I'm planning to put in pictures and text. In all my spare time... So much had been packed up and really, so much about the house has changed since we moved in 20 years ago, it was tricky to find views that were quintessential to the house.  I think I need one or two more times around the house to get pictures; I think I've forgotten to take a picture of the bathroom floor, which is the same green tile as when we moved in.  Despite all the changes and the chaos of packing, I managed to get some really interesting/good photos so I think this is going to be a really lovely book.  Here's a picture from yesterday's rainy morning.

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a night out and a chance to catch my breath


This was the sight that greeted me last night, arriving out in Spring Green to see a play at American Player's Theater.  The night was interrupted by a brief but intense storm (including hail -- thank goodness for their new shelters) but ended with stars and moonlight.  It was a lovely way to pause and savor the moment, which doesn't happen too often since my head is usually bent over the sewing/button machine...

And honestly.  It's almost October already?!  I'm not at all prepared and I've been really bad about blogging.  I used to read that in other people's blogs and think, "what's the big deal? just sit down and tell me what you've been up to."  ha ha ha.

September, although it has passed quickly, has been a little bit of a break in the mad rush.  Things were a little quieter at the store (same as last year) - people are going back to school, preparing for the changing seasons...  We have already exceeded the annual sales from 2009 so that feels great.  I've managed to catch up just a tiny tiny bit, although the list of things to make to restock the store is still quite long.  Well, at least I don't feel quite so frazzled as I did in August.  Which is good because there is a lot ahead of us. 

The Craftacular is the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  We are co-hosting the event so right now there's lots of paperwork and planning to be done.  Not to mention making stuff for our own booth.  We will have over 60 artists there and it promises to be a fun event.  Already a lot of our customers are marking their calendars.  It's exciting to be a part of a local & craft holiday event.


And even though it seems early, it is time to start thinking about the holidays.  But first I have to decide about a Halloween costume.  Who am I kidding, I always dress up as a fairy.  But I don't know if I should make something else for the adorable girl.  Speaking of, I have been working on her Blurb book for year two, reviewing the pictures and thinking about how much she's grown.  It's all good, but poignant too.  Here she is this morning in my parents' backyard.  I love hoodies with ears.

And, oh yeah, my parents are moving.  Only a few miles away but it means packing, making room for art supplies and furniture at my home...  I need to take pictures of the old house for a book project that I have in mind.  I need to clear room in my livingroom and make new cushions for the couch.  Brown zig-zag does NOT go with lime green and red flowers!  But I have been making progress and I feel like maybe it will only be a year before people can come over to my place, instead of two years that I initially thought.  There's still a lot going on; which will always be the case since the living room is also a studio.



We have had some craftivities going on at the store.  Last weekend we hosted a birthday party for a group of girls to make the mini coil-bound notebooks/journals. 


The craftivity for the month is the decoupage paper bracelet.  Because of the curved surface, the paper has to be cut into thin strips but it is fun to see the different colors that people come up with.

And a few of our other favorite things? 



New headbands from Oshkosh and from Chicago, German paper scraps, new cards from Appleton and Milwaukee, mosaic picture frames from Illinois.  The store is chock full right now as we gear up for Christmas and also unpack new arrivals that we found at Renegade in Chicago. 


Christmas goodies... and the adorable girl

DSC03189 Sorry, I can't resist.  Some of you will find it too early to be thinking about Christmas, and some of you will get tired of this auntie showing off her adorable niece.  But hopefully the people who feel that way will have gotten their warning from the title of this post and gone on to something they feel more interested in.  Lily is a mostly happy girl, except when we think she should be taking a nap and she thinks we are having a party without here.  She is walking/running and definitely keeping us occupied and entertained.

As for Christmas at the store, the season of holiday art shows is starting in earnest.  This coming weekend is the MMOCA art fair across the street at the Overture Center; next weekend is Thanksgiving; and the weekend after that is Craftacular.  We'll have a table there for the first time so we are looking forward to that, as well as to seeing what other local artists are up to.  Meanwhile, we are easing into Christmas at the store.  We've set up an area toward the back of the store with fun paper and bottle cap ornaments, and other holiday items.  For Thanksgiving weekend we are planning a paper craft extravaganza window -- featuring the assortment of papers and craft options for the holidays. DSC03169 I'm looking forward to unrolling the gorgeous sheets of Japanese washi paper and we'll feature lots of Jane's fun paper ornaments in the window, as well as the bows that I've been busy making (it's really addicting!).  The Saturday after Thanksgiving is the Downtown Madison Holiday Open House, where many businesses will be featuring special events, tastings, etc.  We'll be kicking off one of several holiday craftivities: a gift-tag-o-rama (hey! Naomi gets "craftacular" -- we get a fun phrase too!) and we are gathering lots of papers, punches and others goodies for gift tag fun.   DSC03172 These are some pics of the Christmas section in the store as it is for now.  We are awaiting deliveries from other artists so it will just keep growing.  And yes, I'll be rearranging the store...DSC03174DSC03173

Happy Halloween dreams come true

Dsc03083 Hmm... I realized last night that I've probably been dreaming about this moment for decades.  Of course, one never fully knows the details of the dream, but still... it IS a dream come true.  A store of our own, an adorable girl who at least for now tolerates the dress-up that Auntie makes her go through.  Dsc03098Dsc03102

that adorable girl

Okay, enough about me and enough about work, let's talk about LILY. She's my totally adorable one and only niece born last fall, daughter to Sachi and Tom. She makes me so very happy! I could go on and on and on but I will try not to. She joins us at the store about four days a week. I hardly get any work done when she is around (well, I work, but only in 15-minute increments) but I am so so happy that she is here. I would be so sad if Sachi lived out of town, and it was hard the first few months when I was working and only got to see Lily once a week. I know, I know, that's a lot compared to some people, but still. Now I get to see Lily almost every day of the week and it is great. Any day now she is really going to start moving and then I don't know what we are going to do at the store -- it isn't exactly baby-proof. Still, I feel so lucky that she can join us at the store. I've been taking tons of pictures -- it is hard to narrow it down, but this is one of our favorites. She was born in the year of the pig (just like me), hence the shirt.