i {heart} Amos

Amos Kennedy Jr. prints

(I wrote as fast as I could, but the picture that I took at the Overture Center in Madison - above - no longer represents what is there. That said, you still have a chance to catch Amos Paul Kennedy Jr. of Kennedy Prints tomorrow, SATURDAY, during the Wisconsin Book Festival, at the Dane County Print Explosion... which in itself looks really cool, and I promise myself now that I will someday schedule the day better so that I can actually attend. I'm sure there will be some creative people and inspiring works on paper to be seen).

I'm trying to retrace my steps a bit here but the exact history is a little fuzzy. Do you ever have one of those things (artists, books, authors, exhibits) where people around you are talking about it but you're not really paying full attention, and then all of a sudden you start hearing the thing everywhere and then you get hooked just like everyone else? It happened to me with Brian Andreas' Story People - I remember seeing the covers but kind of dismissing them - for years, hearing a few people talk about them, and then, finally! actually picking up a book and totally falling in love. It happened to me with Michael Franti - several different friends raved about his music, even played it for me... and then months later I hit the tipping point.

And now Amos Paul Kennedy Jr. I believe I mentioned him in my last blog post and the infatuation has just deepened. I can't remember when he was here in Madison, but last year, maybe? Doing some printing and talking about his work. And, no, I still haven't seen the documentary, but I will. At the time, his approach to printmaking, specifically the accessibility of it, was intriguing. However, I'm not actually a printer myself. That is my sister's field, and I'm somewhat intimidated by the whole process. So perhaps I thought his visit wasn't for me? I don't know. In any event, at our weekly breakfast at Sunprint on the Square, I commented on the coffee print collection they had on the wall and learned that they were Mr. Kennedy originals acquired during his last visit. Hmph. I utterly missed that!

Then, last week, someone on Facebook posted this new fundraising campaign and as I read it, I suddenly realized that was Mr. Kennedy again, with a totally awesome plan for Detroit. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE check it out and give some money if you are so inclined. I think it is a really amazing thing that he is trying to do and I hope that it succeeds beyond his wildest dreams.

And then another friend sent me an email about Mr. Kennedy coming to the Wisconsin Book Festival except the link didn't work and I started thinking that it was in reference to last year's visit which I missed. And then yesterday someone came in and said they were looking for Mr. Kennedy but all they saw across the street was a printing press. I ran over after work but there was no sign of him. But then today, a customer came into the shop carrying two prints that looked like Kennedy prints. When I asked them where he got them, he said from across the street just now....  Little did my sister know that I was going to drop everything this morning.

Amos Paul Kennedy Jr. print close up

Now, I did talk a little about Mr. Kennedy in my last blog post - his words have really stuck with me. "It's not about being so big that you have to maintain your bigness, it's about being just big enough that your craft can maintain you." I love that. a lot. Mostly, I'm hoping that will someday be available as a print even though I don't know how he'd fit all those words on one page. So for one thing, I'm really enamored with his Detroit fundraising project and his ideas of creating a business and community partner. It speaks to my hopes for how we in this country will start to move forward in new ways.

He also has an entire coffee series and a book series, some civil rights and politics prints - including a great series printed on Wisconsin highway maps with quotations from "Fighting Bob" LaFollette. So, I'm enamored because of my newfound political awareness from this past year, which, I believe, printmaking also speaks to in terms of the way artists react to and participate in current events.

Amos Paul Kennedy Jr.

First, I went across the street with my wallet. Mr. Kennedy had a table full of stacks of prints and naturally I had to go through all of them because I kept running into a few odds n' ends. You'd think one pile was all the same series, and then there'd be something about art in the middle of the coffee pile. THEN I was going to send my sister over, but I started to think that his prints might be a great addition to the shop. So I went back and asked him. Now, in my retail/craft realm, sometimes when you talk to someone whose work you like, they are not at all ready to go into the process of selling at other people's stores. Quite frankly, most artists have their work priced rather low so they can't afford to split the cost between themselves and our shop. Mr. Kennedy was rather a dream to work with - this certainly wasn't the first time he was asked and he had clear ideas about his prices and about keeping our shop competitive with other shops (he has prints at CB2, for one); and he'll keep us updated on new prints.

So I'm also enamored because it is exciting to find a new artist for the shop and he's pretty much the perfect prospect in terms of being set up to do business. He's really all about getting his work into the hands of as many people as possible. He and my sister would get along really well (we have an ongoing argument about pricing. I still maintain that if all artists priced their work in line with the amount of effort that went into it, people would learn the actual cost of such pieces. Instead, in most cases, the amount of money you pay is way way less than you yourself would charge to do such work - which, I believe, causes us to minimize the value of work made by hands). The more I look at Mr. Kennedy's work, the more I think he is undercharging. I am in awe of all the layers and colors - as a non-printer, I can't quite wrap my head around how much went into these prints. I started with the retail price that I'd seen online, but he talked me down - I'm just telling you that so you can be enamored too by the way that he's looking out for you as a customer.

Amos Paul Kennedy Jr. print

For maximum selection, I really would recommend that you go to the Print Explosion at College Library tomorrow. It's pretty cool to look through the table full of prints. I can attest to this, because I did it twice. Yes, I went back with the store checkbook and picked out some for the shop. I picked out just 20, in rather a large range that even Mr. Kennedy commented on, but I can see different customers liking different ones. There was one "You're going to hell and the devil is my bitch" which really tempted me but I held back. That might speak to some side of me that perhaps should stay in my secret life. Still, the "up yours" print has been a favorite since I first saw it so I was glad to get one for myself, and one for a present for some lucky person. For the shop, there are some coffee prints, some book prints, some political prints.. and my lingering feelings of infatuation.

Amos Paul Kennedy Jr.

Seriously. Have you been to Hamilton yet?!

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Time again for my annual beach pilgrimage and Hamilton rave. But, really, I hope that if you are ever in the area, you will stop at Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum. It is a treasure. I find myself wishing I had millions of dollars and could convert that entire block into printing and collecting and making art space. Of course, then I'd want to move it closer to my house.

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And since a picture IS worth a thousand words, I'll just save the typing and let you savor the view. The drawers are filled with various wood type examples, and the wall are filled with prints that people make when they go there to use the space. Someday, I will go, too, though I am almost paralyzed by indecision when I think about what I would actually print.

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summer calendar, other peoples'

Phew, summer already?!  I can hardly believe it.  But I'm starting to see notices for summer craft fairs and even for fall planning-ahead, so I thought I'd post some of the many opportunities to vend and shop.  There are so many ways that you can support local artists (and farmers)!  I have to admit that I'm usually at the shop on summer weekends so not only do I miss out on summer garage sales, but I miss out on the shows.  But in most cases, I know some/many of the artists involved and am pretty confident that there will be goodies to be found.


Dane County Farmer's Market, State Street corner, summer Saturdays.  Madison, WI.

East Side Green Market. summer Saturdays.  Milwaukee, WI.

Tosa Farmer's Market, summer Saturdays.  Wauwatosa, WI.

Constructor Craft Fair, June 9.  Berwyn, IL.

INDIEana Handicraft Exchange, June 9.  Indianapolis, IN.

Thread & Ink, June 23.  Madison, WI.

Vintage Flea and Finds Market, July 8.  Madison, WI.

No-Coast Craft-o-rama, July 22.  St. Anthony, MN.

Eighth Annual Summer Craftacular, July 29.  Madison, WI.

Create Mixed Media Retreat, August 22-26.  Chicago, IL

(Anthology will be at the Vendor Faire, August 24).

Craft-Apple-Ar, August 26.  Poynette, WI.

Renegade Craft Fair, September 8 -9.  Chicago, IL.





Renegade Craft Fair, September 8 -9.  Chicago, IL. (due June 8)

Handmade for the Holidays, November 17. Oshkosh, WI.



If you know of other shows and opportunities, please leave me a comment and I will add them to the list!

Confectionique, C'est Manifique!

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Confectionique's visit to our shop was just a teaser... so I had to go out myself and check them out.  This is the weekend of their monthly market: sneak peek on Thursday night, then Friday May 11 from 11 am - 2 pm; Saturday May 12 from 10 am - 4 pm and Sunday May 13 from noon to 4 pm.  Those two crafting sisters are so clever!

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They have so many treasures packed into that little airport space.  Now I know how some people feel when they come to our shop and comment that they have to go around the shop three times before they see everything.  Luckily, Jessica and Stasia don't mind if you linger for a while to take it all in.  You can even have a glass of wine while you are shopping.

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I love all the little details and treasures hidden in little nooks and crannies.

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Their little workshop space is quite tempting and they have a fun collection of ephemera for your own crafty projects.  Seriously, what's not to love about a bowlful of ballerinas?

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I'm also quite charmed by their stamps, but I think I'm holding out for an "ooh la la." I did finally manage to make up my mind... but I can't show you since it is a present for my sister. 

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Hamilton pilgrimage

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I just learned of some water damage to one of my favorite spots:  Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum (and if you go to the website, you can join us in helping them out with fundraising/clean-up efforts).  I'm still a couple months away from my annual trip, but the news has caused me to think more about this great spot.

I think we first came to the museum on a rainy day several years ago(as a family, we often camped at nearby Point Beach State Forest).  We got a tour from a retired Hamilton employee, who showed us around all the products that Hamilton made over the years, as well as the process of making wood type.  At the time, it seemed like a slightly sad, but really cool museum.  A little like a basement that had been turned into a museum.  I want to make sure I don't oversell it - it still has a old warehouse feeling to it and I have a feeling that temperature control has got to be an issue during the extremes of Wisconsin seasons.  Nonetheless, it has a very genuine feeling to it, as well as a great sense of potential and creativity.  But maybe that's just 'cause I've always been such a sucker for drawers.

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Honestly, I wish that I had scads of money - this place seems like a true gem of Wisconsin and I feel like it deserves to be housed in a fabulous space, with tons of workspace for people to print & work, and lots of walls to display prints that people have made, plus more retail space, and plenty of room for drawers, too.

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Since our first visit, the outlook of the museum has improved somewhat - each year I visit and I find little tweaks and signs of coming-to-life.  I think one of my favorite trips was in 2010; usually when I arrive, I'm the only car on the street, but this time there were two cars parked outside: 

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And the cavernous warehouse was filled with the sounds of machines, the ka-chunk of the press, the chatter of voices.  Turns out, I had stumbled in on a workday for an Illinois printing company.  Since then, I have seen evidence of many visiting art classes and groups (Like them on Facebook and you can too).

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Every time I visit, I am charmed once again by the drawers and their contents, as well as the inspiration of artists who have left their prints behind.

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If you've never had a chance to visit, I recommend making the trip soon - well, perhaps give them some time to mop up. They usually have an exhibit of pieces that were printed with their wood type, from one of the many visiting groups, and they have workshops for the public as well. I'm slowly amassing a collection of prints, and there's always lots of inspiration.  I feel like setting type takes a lot of patience and precision so I'm rather nervous about trying it myself - because of course I would want to use lots of letters.  Maybe someday.....

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But really, it's worth it just to visit and peek in the drawers.

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one last library look


I've been thinking a bit about the fuss over the 100 block of State Street.  I will return to it in its own post, but my thoughts are connected to the Bookless event at the downtown library this weekend so I can't help making the connection here as well. 

Bookless Madison 2012

Bookless seemed to perfectly encapsulate what I consider the best of downtown Madison - the diversity of people - all ages, all economic backgrounds - the mix of art and academics - in fact, these are qualities that I consider key to libraries themselves.  They have a very (lowercase d) democratic quality about them. 

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My concerns about downtown Madison development in general have to do with gentrification, unification, privitazation and aesthetics.  On the other hand, the generous spirit of a plan that would help fund the now-nonprofit Overture Foundation cannot be ignored.  But I really need to do more research about the 100 block instead of jumping to conclusions so I'll get back to the topic at hand.

Bookless Madison 2012

Saturday at the library was AWESOME.  If I somehow I didn't convey that enough via Facebook or otherwise propel you to get to the library, I apologize.  Because you missed some great fun.

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The downtown Madison library is slated for de/construction, with the new library opening up in the summer of 2013.  The books have been moved out, the temporary location is up and running, and for all intents and purposes, we were to have said our goodbyes to the library when it closed in November. 

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UNTIL, some ingenious librarian (the famous Trent Miller, whose company Babysitter Deandra and Girl Lily always enjoyed on visits to the library) came up with the wonderful Bookless plan.  There are pictures here on Flickr from the party, which went on until the wee hours of the morning. 

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Sachi and I each managed to grab a little time away from the shop in the morning, running over to the library during the 10 am - 2 pm free family-friendly activities.

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I had to go back again, just before the 2 pm closing time because a customer showed me a great James Marshall stamp that she'd used on a catalog card.  In related news, we got a big box of library catalog cards from Memorial library, which is clearing them out... and I have some idea of an art/journal project.  I'm not sure what it will be.  But I love all the worlds that spin off of just the many titles of books on the cards.

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I have to admit that I'm a little jealous/sad that I didn't get involved - it looks like it would have been so much fun to get to trick out a room in the library, make an art installation with library catalog cards.  Though, looking back on the last two weeks of year end tax prep work, I'm not sure when I would have had time.

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I really admire the nimbleness of the artists, many of whom seem to have changed their installation based on the materials at hand. 

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So a huge kudos to the artists, but also to the library.  Because it is rare that artists in Madison get quite such a large canvas to work on.  How wonderful would it be if more building and property owners were open to something like this!  Aside from the spaces that are currently vacant, what a wonderful way this would be to say goodbye to a building.

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There's something a little sad and poignant about being in a space after its function has been trucked away - those dark corners, the abandoned hardware, the emptiness. Library 018

Not to mention the fact that I have grown up with this library, tromped up the stairs as a child, thrown a penny in the fountain,  checked the answer to the riddle in the clown's pocket.  After thirtysomething years of living in Madison, I'm starting to see how an old brain could be totally confused - all those layers of memories: what is a UW Credit Union doing there?  Wasn't there a Kohl's (grocery store!) with a big yellow arch that we used to try to slide down?  Didn't there used to be fountains in this mall?  And where did that Gimbel's go to?

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The event also reminded me of a few years ago when my parents were moving from my childhood home.  I was wrestling with some emotions of loss but a friend suggested that I make a journal of the house.  I ended up spending a lot of time taking pictures of the space after the bulk of the moving was done.  It was a new way to look at space that was usually filled, but spending time taking pictures was a helpful way to say goodbye.

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And, of course, seeing some of those traces of the old library experience were a little trip back in time.  I ran into an old childhood friend and we reminisced about trying to find those wheely stools so that we could reach books too high above us, how you could never find one when you needed it.  I overheard a parent telling his son, "those are the cards we used to keep track of books, before there were computers."  So strange to imagine the different world that exists.

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I do have to admit that I'm glad to see I'm not the only person with a surplus of rubber bands.  What's the deal with that?

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I can't believe I forgot to take a picture of the Oracle, but that's just evidence of the way that every corner of the library had something going on.   I didn't have nearly enough time to explore it all and I'm sure that I missed a lot, but I was worried that the accountant was going to show up for the aforementioned tax work.  I could have spent the entire four hours taking pictures of the space, the art, and the people amidst it all.

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Plus, it was cool to see the labyrinthine backways in the basement and upper floors, those mysterious places usually for staff only.

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To sum up, Bookless felt like the epitome of an urban artful experience. 

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The level of participation from artists was fabulous; the repurposing of an unused space and supplies (catalog cards, stamps, shelving, labels) and the fusion of looking back and going forward was inspiring; apparently a lot of money was raised for the library foundation; and the turn-out of the community was seriously off the hook, and I don't use that phrase lightly.  And I didn't even muster up the energy to go to the party at night, but I can see from the pictures that it was quite the party.

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Art/craft, learning/doing, seeing/making, repurposing/recycling, old/new, community participating/celebrating/remembering.  All that I can really hope for is more of the same for downtown Madison. 


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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the cleverness of knitters

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I have to admit that my knitting skills are very very basic so I just stand in awe of the yarn-bombing movement which involves guerrilla knittas attacking trees and benches and signs and other things with yarn and needles.  Today is International Yarn Bomb Day and I was excited to learn that the protests at the Capitol have become a part of the event.  Here are some pictures from around the Capitol Square:


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There was a man sitting at this bench reading a paper.  I asked him if he wouldn't mind moving for a minute so I could take a picture.  He got up and then read the bench and said, "apparently we will be."

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All right, for the sake of a photograph, yes, but as for the rest... Fight on, Wisconsin!



artists at work: made by amy

Whether it's notecards or notebooks, a look at Amy's work will often cause a spark of nostalgia.  Her Uno card notepads are some of my favorites for just that reason -- all those nights spent playing Uno as a kid...



What inspires you to make what you do?

For me, everything starts with the vintage imagery I find and love. And depending what it is I will decide what to do with it. Some things I see right away and know they will be good for a focal point of a collage and painting piece. Other things I see as perfect for background. Occasion specific clippings (like Christmas ads) are immediately pulled out for greeting cards. I like the idea of using this old print and making it into something useful and fun.

What's an average studio day/session like?

Because I do housecleaning about 35 hours a week, I mainly craft in the evenings... shorter chunks of time than I would like. I decide what I'm going to work on during that time and go at it. Typically I do many of one thing at a time. I mean, I don't sit down and make a card or minibook start to finish. I will cut a ream of paper down into minibook paper one night. Then another day I'll punch covers, divide the paper among them and finish them. Some days I'll just go though magazines pulling pages out and sorting them. Some days I'll collage and paint.


Where is your studio?  What does it look like?

I have a studio space in our downtown Madison apartment. It is a great space for my needs. It is long and narrow and I have set up three workstations. One is for crafting of cards, journals, etc. The second is my art area which includes my easel for painting and my art table which I use for mostly for doing collage. The third station is for various personal projects, like scrap-booking and sewing. Between these stations are bookshelves with old games, magazines, and other vintage ephemera that I incorporate directly into my work and stacks of thin drawers where I file magazine clippings.

What supplies are in your studio? What's your favorite storage/organization gadget or tip? 

As I go through old magazines I pull pages out and sort them into categories. I file magazine clippings that I will most likely use in artwork based on subject – Cleaning, Beauty, Kitchen, Travel, etc each get their own thin drawer. I can pull these drawers all the way out to sift thru the stacks of imagery and text. I make a separate stack of pages that I know I will use for cards; I then cut these down and file them into a big file folder by occasion – Wedding, Birthday, Christmas, etc.

Do you have some favorite crafty websites/blogs that you'd recommend?

I must admit I do not do much online other than email, facebook and etsy. I'm much better at making stuff than I am at taking photos of my work, downloading them and posting my creations on Etsy. But I do love the way it connects people. It is has been a great way to get in touch with other creative people and of course browse and buy as well!


Any other thoughts you'd like to share?

I'm so grateful to be in a city where handmade is appreciated. A big thank you to Anthology and Madison for inspiring creativity!


Thank you, Amy!

artists at work: Nancy Burkholder


Nancy Burkholder is another artist whose work we carry at Anthology.  As a fan of Japanese papers and patterns, we love her scrabble tile necklaces, and have also enjoyed seeing what new creations Nancy brings to us (notably, her yo-yo necklaces).  I particularly appreciate her approach to creating - this, I think, is what is essential for all of us.  Even if you don't have a dedicated space and even if it isn't your full time job, I think it behooves us all to find even 5 minutes a day where we can think about art projects.  We just wish we could have seen a picture of her aunt's sewing armoire.

What inspires you to make what you make?
I’ve always had at least three things going at once. I love sewing, tried knitting, love beading and making jewelry. I got a sewing machine for my 16th birthday and a serger when I turned 21, which I guess are not typical gifts at those ages. If I see something I like and think I might be able to make it, I’ll give it a try. Right now I’m on sock animals.

Making the Scrabble Tile necklaces for Anthology came out of my appreciation for Japanese papers. My husband and I love Japanese paper, and have a giant piece framed in our living room. When I saw origami paper, I thought it was so beautiful and I wanted to do something with it that I could wear every
day. We had extra scrabble tiles left over from a baby shower game, and my second job was born. I really like them because they’re not expensive, can be layered, and can be made in any color.

What’s an average studio session like?
What’s great about making jewelry is that you can do it in small increments. I have another job and two little kids that have to be driven everywhere. I try to squeeze in a little bit of something every day, even if it’s just looking at what I have and thinking about what I could turn it into. So I might do five minutes, or if I’m lucky, I get in a half hour.


Where is your studio? What does it look like?
I don’t have a studio, though I wish I did. I have a desk in our office/guest room, which has most of my supplies. But since I am usually in the kitchen, I have a tiny desk in our pantry, and some space on the shelves for some things I can grab easily. I’ll take whatever space I can get!

What supplies do you have?
I have lots of fabric remnants left over from various sewing projects. I have boxes of beads and buttons. Some are nicely organized so I can find them fast. Some are still in the organizing process. I have my great-aunt’s sewing armoire, which is full of threads, bits of lace, ribbon and some things I’m not quite sure what to do with yet.

Any crafty websites or blogs you particularly enjoy?
I love to cruise around on Etsy to see what people are doing. I also like to check out businesses like Tuvalu and Three Orange Doors, and of course, Anthology, to see what people are making here in Madison. There’s also a quirky little Canadian show called "She’s Crafty" on Ion TV which has some fun projects.

Any other thoughts you'd like to share?

I feel pretty lucky that I get to make something I love and actually earn a little money while doing it. I think crafting keeps my brain going!

Thanks so much, Nancy!