Monday, January 25, 2010

It's Raining, It's Pouring

I woke Sunday morning at our friend Katie Palmer's (SoBo Style, Columbus, Ohio) to the sound of steel wheels on a gravel road -- and we're not talking Lucinda Williams here.

It took me a minute to figure out that what I was hearing was actually rain, hard enough to turn Katie's street into a virtual river. Not what you'd expect in January. Imagine if it had been snow; Katie would have had to keep us all week!

We'd arrived the evening before to the best smell coming from Katie's kitchen -- she'd whipped up a pot of Green Chili Soup, which we enjoyed with tortillas, sour cream and grated cheddar -- yum! I'm getting the recipe for sure. We had a chance to catch up on Katie's December news and hear about her trip to the Atlanta gift show. She'd also saved several episodes of "Man Shops Globe" for us to see. On our last visit, we'd talked about the controversy surrounding this Sundance tv show, which follows one of Anthropologie's main buyers as he scouts for product ideas. It was really interesting -- you could see why some call it "Man Rips Off Third World," but it was still intriguing to see what does go into their design decisions.

The next morning, we headed over to Northstar, one of our favorite Columbus restaurant's for breakfast (prosciutto with poached eggs and rosemary focaccia...ahhh). Then it was off to the store to unload. The rain slowed things down a little, but Katie always has a great crew on hand to help out; this time it was Matt, Todd, Dad, Mom, Heather, in addition to Katie, Joe and me.

The store looked great -- some of the first arrivals from Katie's gift show picks had started to come in. I bought several gifts, as well as a super-cute jewelry stand for my own dresser. We were back on the road by lunch time, with a package of delicious oatmeal raisin cookies from Katie's mom. Would they make it all the way back to Indiana? Hmmm. Probably not.

We stopped at Heart of Ohio and left with two carts full of great finds. Really welcome this time of year, as merchandise is harder to come by. Next stop was Tim Horton's for mochas, then it was full throttle as we headed to Indy, dinner and Barnes and Noble. There was plenty of time for me to impress Joe with my "Name That Tune skills," plus lots of looking at magazines and talking about ideas and plans. This week, we'll be getting ready for Midland. See you there! xo

Monday, January 18, 2010

Valentine's Day: It's All About the Paper

I love Valentine's Day -- none of the pressures of Christmas, but all of the paper! Look at this lovely box of old letters:

Our friend CJ Zondervan was kind enough to teach me how to make these pattern tissue blooms:

, which we combined with the envelopes to make this non-traditional Valentine wreath:

I bought all these yummy papers from my friend and paper dealer extraordinaire Patty Suttle:*

We layered the maps of London and the sheets of poetry to create some heart collages that are fun for the holiday, but can easily be displayed all year long. Other Wheaton projects included these game board hearts* and

cash-register-wheel photo holders.

We were pleased with the response this week's crop of handmades, and the Wheaton show turned out to be just fine. Joe and I had been a little concerned that the switch to Saturday would cut down on the crowd, but we were pleasantly surprised. Early buy was very busy, mostly for smalls, but furniture held its own throughout the rest of the show. We want to thank all of our regulars who came out -- we couldn't do without you!
Although I whined most of last week about not getting my day off and having to be ready to go a day early, by the weekend, we were reaping the benefits -- two days off in a row! That meant extra time to spend with our excellent hosts, the Boyds, and friends Kerry and David Vernon; we actually went to a concert and then got to sleep in the next day. Friday night, we had a fabulous dinner with a group of dealers at a Thai restaurant in Wheaton, recommended by our friend Diane Passi. And check this out -- Diane's daughter, Olivia, made this tremendous cat house for my favorite feline, Domino. She did a super job constructing and decorating it:

So we were feeling pretty sassy by Sunday! Tomorrow, it's back to bookkeeping, then we'll get busy finishing our load for SoBo Style in Columbus, Ohio. We'll head east on Saturday. xo

*Patty is going to start selling collage packets -- stay tuned for information. And I wanted to say thanks to our Grayslake customer Kelly for reminding me about the fun of working with game boards!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Saturdays at Wheaton -- Ya Gotta Luv It!

Just a friendly reminder that the Wheaton Antique Market will switch to SATURDAY ONLY, starting with this weekend's show, January 16. Early buy is 6 to 8 a.m. ($10); regular admission, 8 to 3 ($5). We have been working on some lovely furniture, pretty chalks, fun smalls and a brand new group of handmades. Click the show sidebar for details and come see us! xo

Monday, January 11, 2010

Winter Whites

Ahh, winter...its snow-covered beauty was echoed in our Grayslake booth this weekend:

From snowflake-shaped shelf brackets to

Ice-crystal vintage beaded flower pins;
This "snowfall" mica pendant lamp to

Vintage white iron grates...all examples of nature's artistry, recreated for the heated indoors.
I think winter is lovely, even though it adds new challenges to my work life: merchandise is harder to come by, our "regular" 3-hour show commutes feel more like "over the river and through the woods" adventures, and the prospect of unloading a van full of furniture in an icy, sub-zero parking lot seems a little more daunting than it does in the same parking lot an a balmy spring morning.
But we are thankful -- for Lynda and Dean's help, which made the unloading go faster; family chipping in to shop and donate creative time at the studio; a busy early buy and a steady stream of customers all weekend long -- sales were strong in all categories -- and dinner with friends Saturday evening at a fabulous Kosher Mexican restaurant in Highland Park (IL), Casa de Issac.
Work starts today for Wheaton, which will be a Saturday only show starting this month, so unfortunately, no day off. Joe has the van in for service this morning; I'm going to rustle through some of my favorite local haunts for treasures, then it will be time to get busy at the studio this afternoon. Do plan to join us this weekend -- and remember to enjoy nature's winter wonderland 'til then! xo

Friday, January 8, 2010

New Hours for Grayslake

Just a reminder that Grayslake's Saturday hours have changed: Early Buy is now 8 to 10; regular admission, 10 to 4. We have wonderful new furniture, lots of pretty mirrors, some great smalls and the premiere of our Valentine handmades. See you there! Click the show sidebar for more information. xo

Monday, January 4, 2010

Of Altered Art Trophies and Expo Show Adventures

Early last year, our fellow dealer, customer and collage-artist extraordinaire Candy Martens noticed something we'd made and suggested we consider submitting it to the Somerset magazine group for publication. In case you're not familiar with them, the Somerset magazines are all about the creative life, with titles covering a range of topics, from mixed media to collage, blogging to jewelry making, altered couture and more. Somerset Studio is Barnes and Noble's top-ranking paper-arts magazine. Candy is a frequent contributor and was nice enough to bring it up again on a couple of other occasions. Finally, we decided to take her up on it. But what to send? Then in May, we finished a new project that we had hoped to have for Mother's Day, but didn't finish in time -- altered art trophies -- and Candy thought we had a winner. So we carefully packed our three hopefuls and sent them off to California along with an outline. And then we waited. Which Candy said would happen. So we tried to be patient...

...which I'm not very good at. But, one night in September, I was curled up in my favorite living room chair, blogging away on my mini Dell, when an e-mail popped up. And from Jenny Doh, no less. You might have thought I'd just heard from Santa, I was so excited. Jenny is the Head Fred -- editor-in-chief and director of publishing -- and she was saying they were interested. WOW. It was one of those slow-motion moments.

They were kind enough to ask for a full article, due in two weeks. When the proofs arrived, I was stunned. The photos were so beautiful! And there was the text, all laid out. Just like a fairy tale -- our. project. was. in. a. major. magazine. Wow.

The January/February issue arrived in my mailbox just before Christmas, so we thought the Expo show on New Year's weekend would be a good time to introduce the new trophies we'd made to go along with it. It turned out to be a great juxtaposition -- there was a huge crowd of people waiting to get into the show, and the excitement building from that magnified our excitement over the trophy article. When they opened the doors at 11, the trophies were gone in 8 minutes. People had so many nice things to say about the article; some had even brought copies to be signed. It was an amazingly happy moment for us; many, many thanks to everyone for being so nice. And for all the wonderful e-mails and blog comments.

The show was a tremendous success -- sold out -- packed with customers -- full of positive energy. What a fine way to start 2010! Our thanks go out as well to the Zurkos for all their hard work to make that happen; they are wonderful promoters -- always great to work with. Dealers, if you're thinking about trying the show in February, we would totally recommend it. There is currently a waiting list, but call today to put your name on it! Work starts tomorrow on Grayslake and Valentine's Day. More soon on that. xo