what Sachi's been up to

I don't know if any hand stitching will ever be a part of my life again.  I used to do counted cross stitch but when I sit down to stitch, I'm mostly thinking about how I could quickly zip something together on the machine.  I'm entranced by the idea of reverse applique so maybe that will tempt me enough.  The Alabama Stitch books has some really cool skirts.  Sachi meanwhile seems to really be enjoying hand-stitching (she must be, or she wouldn't have come up with that Wisconsin ornamnet in the first place).  She's taking a little break from stitching around Door County and making some little Valentine goodies.  Aren't these sweet little hearts?  Wouldn't they make a great accent on a skirt?

Friday 015

Meanwhile, you too can learn some embroidery stitches this Saturday from noon to three at our drop-in workshop.  Sachi has pillowcases so you can embroider your own sweet dreams.  I'm hoping she makes me a Viggo pillowcase....

Friday 016

cupcake cuteness

Halfday 003
What cuteness was this to come to at the shop!  While we were in New York, we saw a booth with cupcake topper sets.  The idea was cute but the graphics just didn't thrill us.  And then, inspiration strikes!  Why not make our own?  Sachi was just experimenting this morning and came up with these little sweeties.  It will be a craft table activity for sure this summer.... and maybe a party kit? cupcake toppers? garland papers?...Halfday 004

a token of nests left behind

Nest 002Maybe it's the weekend's foggy weather, but I've got San Francisco on my mind.   When Anthology was just a gleam in two sisters' eyes, I spent an enjoyable week visiting my uncle in San Francisco, taking pictures of the angels in the Oakland Cemetery, meeting with Goo and C & E, seeing Robear's amazing chandelier collection (ever thought of having a chandelier over your kitchen sink or bathroom? he has), shuffling sheets of paper at Flax, filling in my altered travel journal, getting my "bitter sweet" t-shirt from Scharfenberger at the Ferry Plaza market, visiting inspiring shops like Nest and Castle in the Air and various paper stores.  After patiently touring me around the city, listening to me talk shop (literally - complimenting other people's shops, complaining about my current shop job), one memorable luncheon my uncle said to me, "I think it's time that you open your own store.  Now."  Even though this was something I've been talking about for several years, this was a big push.  In our family, his corporate experience makes him the business expert and such words from him carry a little more weight than other friends and family (not that their support and encouragement wasn't critical but they were less aggressive about telling me what to do).

Nest 001

Of course, I think it was another year before everything conspired to make me take the leap, but my uncle certainly started the teetering.  It's been on my mind as I have been gathering products for the graduation and Mother's Day window - thinking about birds and nests, flight and safety, memories of things we leave behind on the journeys that we take and things that hatch after careful tending. 

There's something about simple repetitive tasks that lend themselves to such meditations.  Over the weekend, in addition to winding yarn, I've been winding wire and making the sweet little wire bird's nests that we are incorporating into jewelry.  Sachi's planning a little tutorial over Mother's Day weekend so you can come in and make your own that Saturday.  She's been making necklaces and earrings; I've been enjoying the pairing of stamped charms with the sweet Vintaj bird charms and nests.  One of my favorites remains Sachi's little series of drawings - stones, twigs, birds... and nests of course.  There's something comforting about a nest, but there's also this tinge of nostalgia for all the moments that have passed.  Nest 004

needleworks by Sachi

Friday 011 I don't quite know how she has the patience, but Sachi has been stitching away...  In addition to the popular cheese curd and cheesehead onesies, she's been getting carried away thinking of designs for the tea towels and aprons that we just received.  Here's the first design, which makes me nostalgic for those days of cooking cakes with light bulbs.  I guess there's still an Easy Bake Oven out there, except it is a microwave?  Somehow the design just doesn't look as charming as the one we grew up with.

crazy for cupcakes

We can't help ourselves.  Ever since we went back to the Frosted Cupcakery in Belmont Shore, California, we've had trouble with cravings.  Taste is all such a peculiar and particular and individual thing.  We haven't sampled nearly all the cupcake possibilities here in Madison, but nothing has quite come close to those California cupcakes.  Something about the consistency of the cake, the amount and consistency of the frosting.... Sigh.

In the meantime, in the interest of not completely overdoing it, there are other cupcake things to fill the cravings.  Not as tasty, but nonetheless fun.  These mini chipboard books were an item that we ordered while in California.Cupcake 001

Sachi made one into a mini album.  It's a nice way to combine photos and paper ephemera in a more 3-D format.  The simple ball-chain binding means you can add buttons, ticket stubs, paper flowers and not worry about how the book is going to close.

Cupcake 002

Tomorrow we have a group of girls coming in to decorate chipboard books.  The cupcake is just one of several choices, but I thought I'd make a sample myself and I've been having fun painting with sparkling watercolors and making up whimsical cupcakes like the which came first cupcake or the i'll meet you in Paris with the best kind of cherry on top, the pretty please with sugar on top cupcake, and the when are we going back to Greece cupcake.  I like the look of the different colors of stripes that I painted for the bottom of the cupcakes.  A lot of the sparkling watercolors kind of sink in to the chipboard pages but you still get some sparkle and color.  I can't wait to see what tomorrow's birthday party comes up with.  Everyone always has their own particular spin on a project.Cupcake 003

snippets galore

Snippets 001 

Well, it was a late night for Sachi last night but I think she can be pretty happy with her part in the endeavor.  A customer came in to make Madison photo snippets yesterday. She brought in picture frames and her own photos of Madison and spent the afternoon with the square punch.  There's one larger collage and three medium-sized ones for gifts. These photos are all made using the "extra large" square punch, which is approximately 1.4 inches (as opposed to the "large" punch which is 1 inch).  It took most of the afternoon to cut and arrange the four collages and Sachi was up until about 11 pm taping everything down.

Photo snippets are one of my favorite craft options.  The technique is relatively simple but you can create an interesting memento of a trip or special occasion.  I currently have two commissions - one for travel pictures from Italy and one for Spain.  Although vicarious travel is not as fun as the real thing, I do enjoy seeing pictures and figuring out a way to represent the place through tiny squares.

Since our first year, we are trying to keep both sizes of punch always in stock so one option is simply to buy a square punch of your own ($15 or $17) and make photo snippet collages at home.  We recommend the double-sided photo squares to affix everything (rather than glue which just gets messy).  And yes, we usually have the photo squares in stock as well.  Another alternative is to reserve our craft table and come to Anthology to work on your collage.  The punches and a paper cutter are available for your use, as well as the photo squares.  Prices start at $10 (unframed) and vary depending on the size of your pieces and whether or not you will need a picture frame (you can also bring in your own frame).  We'll be around to answer your questions and provide suggestions for layout but late-night taping sessions cost extra (that is, if we are doing the taping.  If you want to stay up late at your house, we won't charge you for that).

And, of course, if you are feeling uncrafty or pressed for time, both Sachi and I have ready-made snippets for your souvenir and gift-giving needs.  (They make a nice graduation gift...).  Which reminds me that I need to make some terrace chair snippets too.  Or you can bring in your photos and commission us to make a photo snippet for you.  Prices start at $20 (unframed) and vary depending on size and framing. 

One you start cutting up photos, it is hard to go back.  It's a great way to use those photos with overall bad composition and it is an interesting way to look at a place or event (Sachi's big collage from her wedding is a great treasure of the day and nice to always have on the wall instead of gathering dust unopened on a bookshelf).

 Snippets 002 


Js All right, perhaps I shouldn't have said that quite yet since I haven't finished the enamel bird necklace, but here is a little sampler of the fun things that have been happening at Anthology.  We got in our order of Jill Schwartz jewelry elements.  I spread them out over the entire table and then weeded out a few that I won't have to use right away.  There are many great combos to choose from and they are so affordable! You can combine them with Vintaj, your own necklaces, or even purchase a kit that has all the pieces you need to make a fabulous necklace.  My mind is racing, and I didn't even have a Diet Coke today.  I love all these necklaces with a bundle of charms at the bottom, not to mention the sweet flowers and ribbons.  It's making me anxious for our shipment of hand-dyed ribbons which will also be nice complements to these pieces.

Meanwhile, our kit of the month arrived from French General today.  Oh my goodness!  What a wonderful surprise. Sachi has been looking for more leaf and flower beads for her little clusters -- ask and ye shall receive!  She was ready to take everything home tonight but settled on bringing the birds' nest supplies home.  She is sure to have many new charming necklaces just in time for spring.  And we spent a little time on this rainy day browsing around on the French General website.  It's enough to give you palpitations.  So many wonderful ideas and lovely beads and kits and notions to choose from!  We have treated ourselves the last few months to the kit of the month club which has been nice but a little hit or miss.  Now that we know ourselves better, we might just watch the offerings closely. Things do sell out quickly - but I would have bought twice as much of this month and skipped last month if I had known what was in store.  Oh well, live and learn.  I love all those vintage cameos and glass beads and charms galore.  It will be sweet dreams tonight for sure!

busy girls


Sat 011It's rare, but both of us are on a roll today.  Usually one of us doesn't feel like doing much but then the activity of the other spurs us into motion.  Sachi has been sewing like crazy today and finished up a couple commissions including the ever popular "lil' cheese curd."  She can't keep them in stock!  

Sat 010She has also been busy making more of the nest charms which I totally petered out on.  Here is a copy of her latest necklace (the first one sold before I could see it).  Many of her necklaces have been pastel florals - this one is a nice change with that deep raspberry flower.

Meanwhile I started out with no idea of where to begin this morning.  There are so many choices.  Isn't that great?  I ended up sifting through the scrap fabric bin - made some fabric-covered buttons and started making some pony-Os, then moved on to cutting tiny fabric circles for fabric-covered buttons to make into bracelets.  I might take that project home to work on tonight while I watch a movie.  I have a lot more buttons to make.  And then when I got bored with cutting fabric, I checked out my stock of button bracelets and found that I was rather low on the butterfly bracelets which meant printing out the text, painting some background, then making buttons and gluing them.

Sat 014

Sat 013

Sat 015

Which brings me around to more jewelry making.  We got some fun textured aluminum charms so I put some together and did a little stamping.  I really like the texture on the aluminum and the way it combines with simple stamped text.  I do love text.  I can't help it.  The aluminum is recycled and in some instances you can catch little glimpses of its past life.Sat 012

aw shucks...

Vintaj 001The first thing I found this morning while going through my run of email-Facebook-blog checking, was a note from Jess at Vintaj, telling me that she featured Anthology in their fun blog.  And of course I had to read the comments.  There is the danger of too much knowledge, even though I am willing to accept that I have my faults, it is sometimes painful to read or hear them - people who are disinterested in the store, don't get it, etc. etc.  At the same time, that is part of the risk that we take, posting things online, opening up a store and not hiding in a cave.  And some of my own growth comes from being able to accept the criticism and disinterest, not as a personal attack, but just more proof of this wonderfully diverse world that we live in.  That said, I couldn't help but read the comments section of the blog, and have to confess that it is GREAT to start out the day with comments like these:

"This is TOTALLY the best store ever! I discovered it on a trip to Madison with my kids within a month after they opened. It is like a secret little jewel on State Street (which is the best place to be in Madison!). I want an Anthology store where I live. I never miss a chance to go there, and I never walk away empty handed, and my head is so swirling with ideas. Wonderful! Enjoy the day!"

"This looks just like my studio. In my DREAMS!
It looks so inviting and cozy I just want to jump through my computer.

Charm bracelets are my favorite and Laura’s designs got my heart going.
Who needs coffee in the morning when I got My Vintaj going on."

Isn't that nice?  The girls at Vintaj are really the sweetest and it seems appropriate to have this conversation right now since both Sachi and I have spent the last couple nights making charming bracelets and necklaces.  We just got a new shipment from Vintaj so there are plenty of bird charms and wire (Sachi's been making sweet little nests and really been wanting more birds to go along with them).Etsy 001

still a little chill in the air


Sweater 002 Sweater 005Sweater 001

It's true!  No matter how optimistic I'm trying to be about spring being just around the corner, it's not exactly time to get out the summer dresses.  Sigh.  But at least there are all sorts of sweater options for staying warm.  Rebecca just brought us a delivery of bright sweaters, including a couple of the popular typewriter series (though my all time favorite is still the navy secretaries sweater/jacket that we had in the early days of this store.  It's gone to a good home, though not mine).  Doesn't that red sweater with the typewriter make you feel like you should be on Mad Men?!Sweater 004

Meanwhile, Sachi is making some sweet little girl sweaters. She started with a lily of the valley for Lily; lucky for all of us, the hankie had more than one lily of the valley design so she made this sweet little sweater for the store. Sweater 003

And Lily's babysitter and all-around yo-yo guru Deandra has finally caved to our pressure to bring in some yo-yo sweaters for the shop.  They have been very popular so if you see Deandra, tell her we need more.