Sunday fun: washi tape garland

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Since we decided that we are not going to move, I've been doing a little more settling in. Not that we weren't settled in already, but since it has been on our minds for a few months, there were some things I wasn't bothering to deal with. Now I'm looking with a somewhat more critical eye. Also, Sachi took a merchandising workshop while in New York so she's been bugging me with an assortment of plans.

Mostly I'm looking at how we are using the square footage that we have: are we using it to the best of our ability? These are the kinds of thoughts that are always on my mind - that's one of my best tools for increasing sales (Sachi's talent is customer service, mine is product placement), but I'm digging a little deeper. This also goes along with Sachi's workshop where she was told that people love to look at themselves in mirrors and so you should have something for sale while they are looking.

Anyway, Sachi made a couple garlands for a sample workshop and we put those on our mirror but everyone always asks if they are for sale when they are really just supposed to give you an idea. (That would be a prime example of losing a sale but neither of us have felt like producing those garlands for sale). However, I started thinking that if we aren't going to sell the garlands themselves, at least we could make the garlands out of supplies we can sell (as opposed to scraps of wrapping paper that we no longer have in stock).

Plus, ever since I first searched "washi tape" on Pinterest and came across the fun assortment of washi tape garlands, I've been wanting to try this project. Our drawers of tape were running a little low and while I have a stash of my own to draw from, I thought I'd wait until our order came in from New York. Well, that happened a few weeks ago, but it wasn't until today that I got all the pieces together.  I started this morning, and Olivia has been working on the garland this afternoon. I think it is looking really cute!  For the time  involved, the price will have to be high, but the main point is to give people an idea of something to do with all the fun patterns of washi tape that are out there. So far, the project is entertaining enough that I may well make some for sale, but perhaps I should check with Olivia who has spent a better portion of her day making this one before I judge how fun it is.

I think these will be cute as little decorations in a small space (like here), but I've also seen them used to decorate cards or to decorate packages - instead of ribbon, just wrap it around a plain paper package a few times (such as they did here). We used about two yards of baker's twine and each piece of washi tape is about 3 inches long, folded in half over the baker's twine and then cut to a two-pointed end. Personally, I love the look of a great assortment of tapes so we'll probably offer our collection of tapes for a craft table activity.

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layers upon layers

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The last couple nights that I've been waiting at the bus stop to go home, I've seen so many women walking by with multi-layers of necklaces.  Always-in-style-Chrissy out in L.A. put in a request for one of the terrace charm necklaces on a long chain and mentioned the layered look again.  In preparation for the next window, I put together this grouping - four different necklaces, with a mix of Vintaj brass and Jill Schwartz charms.  It's a fun way to switch things up a bit and use something old and pair it with something new.

story necklace; language and memory

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Almost finished.... I know, you are wondering if it is heavy enough? and if maybe I've gone too far?  It probably wouldn't be a true Laura necklace if you weren't asking those questions.  I have zillions of charms collected over the years and I spent an enjoyable night pulling all the possible pieces to put into this necklace.  Probably four times more than can fit. 

Thurs 001(That's my mom's watch that she got when she graduated from high school, next to an earring I wore often in college but lost the mate to, and a round locket I got on Etsy, with Susan Lenart Kazmer charms on each side).

It's tempting to work on a series.  I love the idea of scrounging other people's bead and jewelry boxes to make a personalized necklace.  I hope you won't find this blasphemous if I say that it feels a little bit like prayer beads, running my fingers over all.  Sitting on the bus with the adorable girl this morning, we went through the various charms.  "What this is?" "Does this open?"  Susan Lenart Kazmer calls hers talisman necklaces, but it feels like a story necklace to me.

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(especially for Facebook friends who were wondering about my mention of a diaper pin - here it is.  This was a gift when I was born, a pair of monogrammed silver diaper pins - from people who had way more money than my parents had at the time, which is to say that I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth, though that would be another thing that could get incorporated into a necklace such as this).

It makes me think about what language we use to speak of other people, words, of course, but also physical objects and photographs.  I feel like a lot of people and times and places have gone into this necklace. There's Cinderella and Thumbelina, the Owl and the Pussycat, the cow jumping over the moon, Valley Ridge Art Studio (and the influence of Nina Bagley, Susan Lenart Kazmer, Kathy Malkasian, Michael DeMeng), the girls of Vintaj brass, the adorable girl,  Jill Schwartz, Kim Geiser, Susie Carlson, the Jens, Mom....  Is name-dropping so annoying?  Sorry, it annoys me too but I do feel it is  important to give credit to my muses.  There is Travel, Whimsy, Play, Memory, Loss, Family.  There is Luck.  Charm.  No wonder it's so heavy.  Truth be told, it's not totally comfortable.  I'm going to have to find a way to display it so that I can enjoy it without wearing it - though it did make for an enjoyable bus ride this morning.  Lily has already decided upon her favorite piece.  She calls it a button and pointedly seeks it out.  I wonder what she imagines is happening when she pushes it.

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(this key is from an old lock of mine.  I couldn't fit the car key in, it was just a little too long.  The black oval is an unmatched earring from Mom's jewelry box - I remember handling it as a child.  The woman on the moon is from Vintaj).

I still want to do some resin work - maybe adding some snippets of text to the keys and other trinkets.  Oh, and there's a couple lockets and a box so I need to put something in those. And maybe tying on a few hand-dyed ribbons...  I can't stop...!!!!

Thurs 005 (yet another key from a padlock, that blue and silver is another lost earring, and there's the edge of a round enamel piece that I've been eyeing from the Duluth artist we carry at Anthology.  The brown button is from Mom's button box, maybe an old coat?  I just remember handling it as I sorted through her buttons in those rare 15 minutes of peace that she could get from me.  The seahorse is also from Vintaj, another charm we carry at the store).

never enough nests, apparently

Nest 007I guess it's an obsession, one that I do take breaks from occasionally.  But this week I found a new batch of the faceted aqua beads (at JoAnn Fabrics of all places).  I had kind of run out of enamel that coordinated with the birds' nests made from freshwater pearls, but now I have a whole new assortment to choose from.  I've been hoarding these two enamel pieces because they are such a lovely color.  And don't they look nice with the Vintaj brass bird?Nest

so much charm

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We just had a customer spend much of the afternoon at our craft table, putting together this awesome necklace.  It's so fun to see what other people do with the pieces that we've provided here - some charms from Persimmons, lots of Vintaj goodness and enamel from Duluth.  I love the way everything goes together.  Of course, all this charm gets pricey, but there are lots of options for creating your own charming pieces.  With a necklace like this, and also with the silk ribbon necklaces, it is easy to get started with some goodies from Anthology, but also leave room for adding other things.  A great way to fill up some space is tying little bows with silk ribbon (we're anxiously awaiting our order of hand-dyed ribbon), or use the mate of a missing earring, or parts of thrift-store necklaces or vintage clip on earrings, or Grandma's buttons....

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

more of Sachi's charms

Sk One day away from the store and I come back to this...  Sachi's been thinking about such charming necklaces for a while and the snow earlier this week gave her a chance to try them out.  I love those little nest beads but don't really have the patience to make lots of them so she has the go-ahead to make them herself.  There's beach glass from our vacation wrapped up in there, as well as some Vintaj elements and beads from the French General goodies we've been getting each month.

never too much charm

Vintaj Well, that's my opinion anyway.  I LOVE charm bracelets, and have quite a collection of my own.  One of many resolutions was to make more pieces for the store and I've been busy making some sweet charm bracelets for Valentine's Day.  At the rate I am going, I should finish 6 today.  I can get carried away with chunky charmed bracelets but I know that's not everyone's style so I'm trying to keep these a little simpler. I stamped more text on the flat brass charms from Vintaj and am combining them with an assortment of beads and charms.  I'm having fun coming up with slightly longer phrases such as "love you to the moon & back," "happily ever after," though my favorite so far is the aqua & coral that has "sea see the world in a grain of sand."

so charmed

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I sure do LOVE Christmas.  I waited until after Thanksgiving to start playing the music and right now it is on shuffle along with non-Christmas music so hopefully it isn't intolerable for those of you who weren't thrilled to hear "Santa Baby" over the grocery store speakers.  But it is SO on! 

I have been working on presents for a while now and am in pretty good shape except for a few last-minute supply orders from  Have I said how much I love that site?  Well, I do.  It gets annoying when people equate Anthology with etsy as if etsy is the gold standard of crafting, but you can get some great supplies there.  I've been searching for bezels, cabachons, lockets... and if you know Sachi, shhhhh!  don't tell her!  (though I can keep enough of a secret, today anyway, that neither of these pictures is what she's getting).  This time of year is slightly agonizing for me because I usually have some present that I am really looking forward to giving to someone and I have to wait and try to keep it secret.  Not my strongest suit.  Let's just say that Sachi's present is almost finished and I think she will like it even if it isn't quite her usual style.  The Blurb book should be arriving in time too so I'm excited to see that.  Meanwhile, Lily's doll project is kind of at a standstill.  We'll see if I get some last minute inspiration to get that done in time.  I printed photos of various family members onto fabric, now I just have to convert those into doll faces.  And figure out what to do for the doll body.  Hmm.Tuesday 002

Although there are plenty of other things to work on, lately I've been working on various jewelry projects.  I put together some charm bracelet kits for the store and also made some bracelets.  Since I can't show you Sachi's present, at least I can show you these two, which are the latest addition to the collection of jewelry for sale here at the store.  I do love stamping text on these Vintaj brass pieces, though I am told that I will love etching them even more.  Something to look forward to in the new year.

a productive evening

DSC08125 Ahh... isn't that nice?  Of course, it is offset by the email from my sister reminding me that I am sold out of Madison snippets and really should make some more for this weekend.  Still, I spent last night watching movies and working on some jewelery.  Finished another Vintaj bird necklace to replace the one that sold a few months ago.  Sometimes it is hard to focus - looking at the coffee table with the little baggies of beads and findings.  Where to begin?  I had some charm bracelets in mind and ended up going in a completely different direction.  DSC08124 The cloth button bracelet just needed a few finishing touches.  And, oh, speaking of cloth buttons, I really need to spend time cutting out more fabric scraps to make more of those.  The super mini cloth button bracelets are all sold out... but boy, those are not easy to make!  First, cutting those tiny circles of fabric, then pressing them into buttons, then gluing them on. 

After I finished those two pieces, I was still going strong, so then came this pearl charm bracelet which was a total whim.  I do love how the pearls look with Vintaj bead caps.DSC08123 Naturally I started gathering beads for several other projects.  Why is it that it is so much more fun to start a new project?  We got bottle cap beads and charms in so I'm making a fun bracelet of those.  Then I really need to look at my sales records and prioritize the list of things to make for the upcoming months.  Magnet picture frames, button bracelets, I know, but I'm sure there's more.

Meanwhile, my parents are starting to prepare to move from the house that they've lived in since I was in 5th grade.  Eek.  I'd like to think that I am a good daughter but yes, I am using their house as a storage unit.  I still need to make more room at my place, but I think I'll be moving the sewing machine over tonightt and start to get that set up.  The realtor is drooling a little at the thought of showing their house, but not with my fabric scraps strewn all over the place upstairs.  The irony is that a side job is cleaning and organizing other peoples' studios.  It is SO much easier when it isn't your own.  I'd better do some major sifting, sorting and cleaning and clearing.  Maybe when this is all over, I will have such a great space that I can take pictures and submit them to some magazine like Where Women Create (I'd still like to see more studios in there of everyday people, not Marie Osmond, their last covergirl. I don't know why but it is a real pet peeve of mine when people who are famous in one area crossover into another.  It's not nice because everyone should be allowed to do what they want to do but I feel like their fame gives them an unfair edge - like Madonna writing children's books or Marie Osmond making dolls.  I'm all about the fairness and you should have seen how diligently my sister and I monitored or childhood presents and slices of cake).