A dog named Toki

As mentioned in the last post, recently our old lady “puppy” Toki Momoko passed away. While she was quite young and spry in her old age as my daughter Jina always said, time did get the best of her. In her last days, she lost the use of her back legs and I carried her around so she could be with me. She was determined to follow me everywhere despite those darn legs not cooperating.

Toki Momoko - always by my side in the garden.

Toki Momoko - always by my side in the garden.

We adopted her from the Seattle Animal Shelter in 2006. She was just about 3 months old and a super mutt, a German Shepard, Lab, Rottweiler mix. She was the runt of her litter and the only girl. I fell in love immediately. She basically became my fifth kid from the moment I brought her home. In many ways she helped me raise my kids and tolerated a lot from them as family pets do.

Toki was a great comfort in difficult times for my family and myself. Every morning was like Christmas for her as she greeted me at the top of the stairs (I managed to avoid breaking a leg as she would whip around my feet in excitement going down the stairs). Every snowfall we had in the winter, she would pace by the door begging to go out and run like a mad woman in it. She audibly grunted whenever she laid down and would be hard to move when she was comfy. She barked at everything and was very particular about her daily schedule. The girl had quite the personality.

Thea & Toki in the snow in Woodinville, WA.

Thea & Toki in the snow in Woodinville, WA.

Every day has been surreal in her absence. I am constantly apologizing for having emotional moments when I miss her. My heart is broken and full all at once even a month and a half after. During the day, while sitting here at my desk, on the couch near me Baberham looks so sad and leaves Toki’s spot open. I loved her so and I’m so thankful for everything she gave me. I feel proud for giving her the best life. She was so loved. I’ve really appreciated all the stories of other’s beloved pets and kind words that everyone has shared with me.

Toki Momoko Starr - 7/11/06 - 8/16/18

Forever guarding me wherever I went. Thank you for that and everything you gave us sweet girl.

Forever guarding me wherever I went. Thank you for that and everything you gave us sweet girl.

We love what we do, we love who we are.

We're DOBIS PR! Just kidding, we're 6 by 6 Arts! Seems odd to do an introduction in the first week of August after 4 years of being in business. However, with the new stuff that we're getting our hands into, I thought it would be a good idea to give you guys a fresh introduction.

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He: John - from Hillsboro, OR. Homeschooled, previously worked in the memorial industry with lasers on headstones. Likes, all thing Nintendo, NIN, enjoying craft beers and Pokemon Go.

Me: Thea - I'm from Oak Harbor, WA. Navy brat/automotive shop rat in my youth. I previously worked in the finance industry, founded a roller derby league and I've been a maker since 2003. I like hoarding fabrics, organic gardening and cooking. 

Today, we're residents of Woodinville, WA.

What's up the name 6 by 6 Arts? 

6 by 6 Arts

We did consider the play on 6 x 6 in reference to lumber but we decided to go with more of a personal reference. John is the eldest of 6 kids and I'm the youngest of 6 kids AND together we have a blended family of 6 children. I have two boys and two girls and John has two girls. They are all grown. The youngest is 15 and NO we are not having any more human children. Furry babies - definitely.  We currently have two dogs; our senior puppy Toki (mutt) and our young lass President Baberham Lincoln (borador). 

That's just the basic info about us personally. I'll have more posts about out work and process coming up.

I hope everyone has an awesome weekend. In our area it's Seafair weekend, a long standing Seattle tradition. We're personally loving the cooler weather right now.

Lasers and love - Thea 

Holiday Prep Starts In The Summer

Every job I've had has been tied to a season. Working in accounting firms, we had tax season. "Working" for a roller derby league, we had a season. (Although there's no real breaks in derby.) The maker life; while things happen year round, holiday season is the big deal. I shop, you shop, we shop, in the timeframe leading up to the holidays. 

Summertime vibes with holiday thoughts on the mind.

Summertime vibes with holiday thoughts on the mind.

In turn, we start planning for the holidays quite early. I actually started in January this year. Mostly due to be overwhelmed with our workload last holiday season. We survived and thrived, but in hindsight, I can see what we could have done better.

This year I wanted to be ahead of the game. Even if that includes not applying to shows that we love and previously did well at. We need to focus on a few key things. Its important to us that we're not flying by the seat of our pants this year because we have some great opportunities that have been bestowed upon us. They deserve our focus. 

So what does that mean? Well, first it means I'm anticipating not chewing John out for empty inventory bins because I'm predicting how much inventory to have in stock for popular items. Of course we've always done that, but the holidays can be overwhelming with production and it is just the two of us. We're married and its easy to get loose with being flustered at each other with work stuff. However, we actually like each other so that's something that is always first to get nurtured. Second, sending goods off to Amazon. Since its inception, we have been apart of Handmade at Amazon. We did have a weird hiccup with our shop that was resolved via a conference call -  it was a totally weird one off thing that no one knows how it glitched. Love it or hate it, people love using Amazon. We had a glorious return to Amazon and sold quite a bit there. We're sending a handful of products to be available for Prime delivery. Lastly, this is the tough one for me (I'm an ENTP), is focusing in on a choice selection of work. Which means, less custom work availability. We will have a cutoff for custom orders much sooner this year. I LOVE custom work. I like making new things All. The. Time. However, it can be a time suck. Part of our issue last holiday season was saying yes too much. Hindsight is 20/20. 

With all that said, we're currently focusing on some exciting things that we're super stoked to share soon. Hence the quietness from us. Stay tuned friends!

Lasers and love - Thea 

Leeloo The Laser

We named our laser Leeloo and that sweetie has been working her buns off these past few days. 

We recently replaced her tube and she’s been working like a brand new machine. Not that we’ve had any problems with her at all. But we noticed her cutting wasn’t what we were used to. To this day, I am absolutely fascinated by the incredible detail that Leeloo can produce.

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We share time-lapse videos on our Instagram if you’re interested in seeing her in action. One of these days I'll upload them to YouTube, I promise!

Hi. 

Hi. 

A maker's life can be a little quiet sometimes. John and I have each other to keep each other company as we work through out the days. Not that it is quiet by any means. Leeloo does make some noise. 

Leeloo is an Epilog Laser made in Colorado.

Leeloo is an Epilog Laser made in Colorado.

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We've been busy cutting and assembling our newest plant stands for a new stockist in Wisconsin. Tons of laser time and by hand assembling goes into each one. The picture above is of John oiling the wood before we assemble them.

Leeloo has the easy job here at headquarters. Lucky girl.

Lasers and love - Thea

Back at it!

Hello! We haven't posted much aside from Instagram posts online because we became so busy in December. We basically woke up worked 18-20 hour days and repeated that cycle up until the Saturday before Christmas. We had our busiest online sales year to date. I believe we owe a lot of thanks to The Seattle Times Gift Guide feature that happened right before prime holiday shopping. Thank you again so much for your support. We're truly a mom and pop shop and depend on local support and word of mouth recommendations. 

2017 was a 50/50 year for us. Overall, much like many fellow makers, sales were slower than 2016. We scaled things back with in person shows. We did have a couple poor preforming shows, but that happens. On the flip side we did have the most profitable show to date too. A total 50/50 split. While it could've been better, it could have been worse too.

I'm a firm believer of the mantra "Keep moving forward". (Anyone familiar with Meet The Robinsons?) So that is what we are doing. New products are on the horizon (new coasters pictured below, just became available today.) I am taking my time to craft things and not letting "the rush" get to me. I know when I take my time, I love my designs more. And I like to like what I do and make. Doing this also allows me to focus on some important relationships. Not just John and I, but long time friends who are like family. Everyday is a gift and I want to fill my days with the people who are important to me. I had some self reflection moments over the past few weeks. This year I will be the age that my dad was when I was born. I always thought that was "SO old". But being almost that age myself, I feel so young still! My dad's health started to diminish when I was a young kid, which isn't too far off from where I am now and I have close friends battling the big "C" battle. Reflecting on that, it changes my mindset a bit and I really place value on my own health and my time and relationships with others. (Again, recommending Candy Chang's Ted Talk here.) I've actually been considering starting a vlog just to document meet ups with friends, to selfishly archive our time together. When you're friends with the same people for 35-25 years, we collectively turn into 15 year olds anywhere we are and its hilarious. Nothing makes me laugh harder than those times.

Coasters - Into The Trees

Even though a lot of the world seems unsavory at the moment, I have hope that many good days are in store for this year. So Happy New Year to you and may good days be on their way. For my friends who keep up with me here, I love you and you make me smile. 

Lasers and love - Thea 

At home with 6 by 6 - Domestics and product development.

As you know, we work at home. Once upon a time when I worked at a corporate accounting firm I dreamed about being able to do this. No more long commutes, spilled coffee in my lap in the mornings and rushed lunch breaks. 

Waking up and strolling down the hallway "to go to work".  Having a fresh pot of coffee all to myself. (In our case, John and I share.) It all sounded like a dream and I have personally be so fortunate to work from home for the past few years with my other business.

View out of our kitchen window while we cook. 

View out of our kitchen window while we cook. 

My fellow work at home self employed friends know that "dream" is not that simple. While our commute is just a few doors down the hall or down the stairs depending on what stage of production we're in, we do have a rigorous schedule to get things done. 

When the shop is too cold for things to dry in we bring them indoors. Which usually means our dining room or kitchen room table. 

When the shop is too cold for things to dry in we bring them indoors. Which usually means our dining room or kitchen room table. 

I'm up bright and early before the sun (which is a huge challenge for me because I am very much a night owl) with my kids to usher them out the door every morning. I then guzzle down a cup of coffee, not out of tiredness but for comfort and begin the work day. Often I have to take domestic breaks during the day to do mom things. Then I pick back up after dinner or into the late evening. 

During the late evenings I do a lot of design work. Lots of drawing and arranging ideas for product development. I doodle all day but late at night I've collected a lot ideas during the day and have time for them to resonate in my brain and I'll flush out ideas on paper. That way they'll be ready for John to critique and provide feedback on the following the day.

A vintage metal wire basket that I'll be repainting for a show display containing our small 8-bit heart magnets. 

A vintage metal wire basket that I'll be repainting for a show display containing our small 8-bit heart magnets. 

Our home also becomes one big workspace. Aside from the designated work areas when things are going, things spill all over into all sorts of areas around here. It can be a little frustrating at times, especially when the kids want to have company over. But we make due until we hit the next accolade - a designated shop.

I wanted to share a little insight on how we work at home, we've had a few friends ask us how we do it. 

Lasers and love - Thea 

We're back! Sort of.

We're still recovering from our wedding, all the things that surrounded the wedding and also a big show immediately after that in Chicago. Hello! To all our new friends that are finding us from that Chicago show! I'll have a separate post about that show and the incredible things we saw in Chicago later on this month. 

One thing to note, is that we currently have our Etsy shop on vacation mode for the rest of the week. I am revamping some old photos and adding some new products to all of our shops. 

Now on to some wedding pictures! I'll have more detailed DIY wedding posts over on my personal blog, which is more suited for wedding things. Quite honestly, I am still in complete shock that we pulled it all off. We had a rollercoaster of a ride making that event happen. We did everything ourselves with help from friends and family. Our wedding story includes a tree falling down onto a house, thousands of lumpia and a boat filled with beer. 

John and Thea on their wedding day. Appropriately taken by the friend who introduced them. September 3, 2016

We did things our way. We even made use of that downed tree and created a display at our ceremony site. Our ceremony included jokes, NIN, Richard Dawkins and Parks and Rec references and were announced "carbon based lifeform to carbon based lifeform". Everything was very us. 

6 by 6 Arts family. (5 out of our 6 kids)

Our wedding was very much handmade. It was also an intimate wedding under 70 people. We made our own food, bought our own tents, thrifted our decor, I made my wedding bouquet and boutonnière, John's best friend married us, my mother in law was our photographer, my nieces made the most beautiful wedding cake for us and our kids gave us way to each other and were our wedding party. It was so much fun. We felt so loved and honored to celebrate with ones we hold so close. 

Our wedding favors. 

We gave out some very unique wedding programs and favors of course! 

Photo by M&K Daoang.

Thank you all who have emailed/messaged us congratulations. It has been really awesome to receive those. 

One last photo, you'd think as laser cutters we'd have a laser cut cake topper. We did on a gluten free cake for our friends and family who are gluten free. But the very first thing I bought when we became engaged was this cake topper, so we had to use it. :) 

Lasers and love - Thea

Our cake topper. 

Taking a Break and Getting Hitched!

For the next two and a half weeks our shops will be semi closed.

We will be slow to respond to emails and calls. Standing orders will still be processed as scheduled. Retail orders will be processed as they come in. But custom orders will be on hold until we resume regular hours on September 14th, 2016.

We're getting married and we will be spending time with friends and family.

I have a couple scheduled posts that will be shared this week. I did put a small halt to our "At Home with 6 by 6" posts, because I decided to repaint a room in the midst of all the other craziness going on here. Because I'm nuts. 

Lasers and love -

John and Thea 

At Home With 6 by 6 Arts - Furry "Employees"

I thought it would be fun to add a little twist to our home tour. There are two very important fixtures in our home, our "puppies" Toki & President Baberham Lincoln. Toki is 9 and Baberham is 2. 

Our ladies "on guard". 

Our ladies "on guard". 

Pictured above, is their favorite spot in the house in our front room. Our old couch is exclusively theirs, parked right next to my vintage Plycraft chair and our Lego Tower of Orthanc.  That couch is thei perch and comfort zone.

It's amazing how a home wouldn't feel the same without your pets around. While they do have little barking fits to alert everyone that their arch nemesis "The UPS guy" has pulled into the driveway and get a little to beggy at dinner, we'd miss them greatly if they didn't. 

We actually had a scare soon after we brought Baberham home after we adopted her from a local shelter. She got curious and wandered into the forest. She was missing for a couple hours. Thankfully she ended up in a neighborhood close by and was easily identified by the custom ID tag we engraved for her.

Custom engraved pet ID tags. 

Custom engraved pet ID tags. 

They are like our furry children. Like our real children, they too are very animated, have distinct personalities, leave things all over the house and fill our home with even more love.

Baberham

Baberham

Toki

Toki

How about you? Who are your fur babies? I'd love to see pictures! I watch every single pet video that is posted to Facebook/Instagram. I'd be a crazy dog lady if permitted to. 

We hope everyone stays cool this weekend!

Lasers and love -Thea 

At Home With 6 by 6 Arts - Where Prototype Signs Go To Die

When I posted the first post, I imagined my mother's horror of me not putting things "away" before showing the world what my home looks like. I grew up in a house that had those weird plastic protective runners on top of the carpets. Anyone even know what those horrible things are? I think they were meant to keeping your carpet clean.  I ate shit on them every morning, by tripping on that *one* little bumped up part.

Not in my house. I keep a house where my kids actually feel comfortable living here. I do have one son that is a little TOO comfortable and thinks the tv room is his hamper...

But we have our Lord of the Rings Legos displayed in the front room (I'll show those in a future post!) Dr. Seuss book characters painted in the our old dining room and of course our own signs that we designed. 

A recent vintage mid century Quartite lamp thrift find. Thanks to those who chimed in on Instagram. The original colors have grown on us. If you look closely, you can see the reflection of our refrigerator that has all sorts of chalkboard magnets we've designed stuck all over it. 

We often will display our original prototype signs on our walls. Like this Damn Fine Cup of Coffee sign.

Can you notice the difference in lighting or what? Bright light in the kitchen vs the soft tv room light as seen in the previous photo.

We had some stability issues with the first layout of the Damn Fine Cup of Coffee sign. We adjusted them but kept this original one. Appropriately hung on the wall next to our coffee pot of course. Which sits elegantly on my fine "vintage" (beat to hell) formica countertops. I also had to display one of my vintage Pyrex coffee pot stands. (I'm a vintage Pyrex collector!) I might as well explain the other things going on here. A Partylite pineapple candle holder that was a gift to me. A slightly hidden sugar dispenser. Ferdinand the Bull from the Philippines. Odd story about that - my mom just sent that to me with no note, or explanation as to why she sent it. Just Ferdinand in a box. We laughed for days with slogans for the bull. "Bull in a Box", "Big Box of Bull", "Pack and Play Bull", "Bull on the Go!" I later found out that she just forgot to include the note when she packaged it up. A framed card that reads "I hate everyone that isn't you" - from one of my best friends. Some coasters that no one uses. A basket of napkins - because they are way cheaper than paper towels and when you have a house full of teenagers you don't bother buying the expensive stuff until they move out. Finally, an outlet with a mustache. I draw mustaches on outlets because it makes me laugh.  

I hope you're enjoying this little series and a peek into our home!

Lasers and love - Thea 

The Calm Before The Storm

Mid July already? Where does the time go? We're getting nudged for holiday orders, ads for "back to school" stuff is popping up and our wedding planning is coming to a close as the main event nears. Perhaps I feel this way because every spare moment we get my entire family has been playing Pokemon Go together. I kid, but I do openly admit that I packed my car up with my family at 10:30 the other night and drove around to Pokestops. We are enjoying it quite a lot. The summer has been flying by though and the onslaught of jammed packed life that begins in the fall is on the horizon.

Off cuts serendipitously placed.

Off cuts serendipitously placed.

We're finishing up a handful on new products for the holiday season. I hate talking about the holidays this early. I am so sorry. But its the way the "buying season works". It makes sense really. Buyers have to plan ahead to make sure they have the things they need to thrive when people are buying. That's a soft nudge to remember to support the small brick and mortar stores in your neighborhoods. We need those small shops to thrive and keep the character of our places.  

I've been working on our new products, packaging design and applying to shows for the next upcoming months. Along with the fun diversion of our little "Home Tour" series. I'll have a new post about that on Friday. 

Today, I leave you with a picture I took of some sleeping ducks at a near by lake. Completely adorable and totally not relevant to anything. I just thought they were the cutest. 

Sleeping ducks

Lasers and love - Thea

At Home With 6 by 6 Arts - The Truth

Hello Friday. It has been a rough week socially speaking. Many discouraging things going on all over the world. Surreal things, things that make you wonder if we as human value life truly. The saddest thing about all of the social turmoil is that it's overshadowing an amazing human feat of Juno orbiting Jupiter. Humans can do amazing things and horrible things. I'm just a lady who runs a small business in the trees of Western Washington. The part I'm contributing to the world is raising good accepting people. I don't make any big social decisions for others, but I do support those who share the same views as I do.

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Before this week, I had planned to start a little weekly series about us. A little home tour of sorts. I decided to do a little soft and truthful introduction into that. Earlier today I took a picture of one of the walls in my living room:

At home with 6 by 6 Arts

At home with 6 by 6 Arts

I left everything in place. Disheveled front door mat, boxes from shipments. Folding chairs from my last craft show and other business stuff that belongs in the garage. A few weeks ago I had posted a photo on Instagram about a vintage (mid century) table lamp. I noted that our house is a mish-mash of things. Here's a little glimpse of that. My gallery wall that John isn't too keen on. I have a few decorative plates that came from my dad's house, a handful of thrifted scenic paintings. With spaces for wall art that I am making myself. A glass bonsai tree, a vintage brass menorah, wooden Ibex family, vintage Alsy lamps, some of my vintage Pyrex and my childhood Japanese dolls in the cabinets and my what my kids call the "Blue Clues" chaise chair.  As you can see I'm no home stylist or even care much about style. There's lots going on here. To me, it's comforting, I like looking at things, lots of color and things that make my home unlike any other. The stuff from work can go, but John has been rearranging the garage so that will be short lived. 

I will post an update of this room once I complete that wall art and will share pictures of other rooms and where we predominately display our original We Hate Everything Together sign. I wanted to share what our home, which is where we work too - looks like since we design many things for your homes. It's only fair. 

Lasers and love - Thea 

A year (plus) restoring a mid-century modern chair.

First, let me state that we're not particularly into the mid century century modern style. I know there are many devotees to that style and feverishly collect pieces from that era. John and I just purchase stuff we like. Nothing matches and I indulge my love for a lot of color. I've also been known to paint unusual murals on the wall.

In December 2014 we were introduced to our local Buy Nothing Group. A friend told me about the great stuff they were getting through the group. I immediately loved the idea. It reminded me a bit of the military family support groups that I grew up around - trading, giving to someone who can use it. My children are big and I have so many little kid things that I needed to pass on. Or just random household items that were useful still, just not to me.  The very first thing I put my name in for in the group, I got. They were a set of chairs that needed some TLC. 

Nacho cheese chairs.

Nacho cheese yellow, unholstered and I wasn't sure if I'd be able to restore them but I was going to try. I had purchased a chair that I really liked from a thrift store and these weren't exactly the same but in similar style. I was hopefully that beautiful walnut wood was underneath that thick nacho cheese yellow paint. 

The inspiration chair!

I wasn't able to immediately jump into restoring these chairs. It wouldn't be until the summer of 2015 until I tried stripping the paint off of them.  I did use a paint stripper. The safest one I could find. It worked pretty well considering just how insanely thick the paint and primer was on those poor chairs. 

I was completely ecstatic when I saw the wood that was beneath of that! This was a "me" project but I did recruit my eldest son to help with getting all of the paint off both of the chairs. It was a lot of work.

Removing the old varnish.

I took a long break from working on these. We got busy with work and family stuff. You know how it goes. Once I picked it back up, it was a lot of sanding. Near the end of the completing one of the chairs John came in to help me out. 

PRETTY!!!!

We got it!

Since the inception of 6 by 6, I've gained a whole new appreciate for wood in general. It's natural grain, color and overall beauty. I really wanted to choose a stain that really showed off how awesome the walnut is. So I went with a natural dark walnut and gave it a good rub down of oil to seal it all up and protect it. Oooh la la! 

I posted this on our Instagram late at night because I was so excited to finish one!

I've only finished one. The other still needs to have the final sanding to smooth out the wood to be ready for stain. I chose a dark brown and black pinstripe print upholstery fabric for the cushion. The cushion type is a staple to the bottom rather than sewing a full piece.   

Complete! Now it's not only my desk chair but a photoshoot prop. 

It was a lot of work but I really love how it turned out. 

Lasers and love - Thea