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

Spring Cleaning

Twice a year I have to basically strip the work areas down to the bare bone (tabletops). There are two times of the year where I am the busiest. The first six months immediately followed by the last 6 months. KIDDING! Sort of. If you've been following along you know that I have two businesses. One business is super busy during "wedding season".  March to September are the core times for me with that. 6 by 6 flourishes during wholesale reordering times, which is all the time but there are particular stock up times for a majority of our buyers and the holiday months. We just know that we'll sleep when we're dead during the holiday months. Makers have a joke that we'll sleep when it's pajamuary (January), after all the holidays have passed. 

If you've ever been around creative makers while they are making, you know they tend to be messy. I'm hella messy when I'm working. I have piles of fabrics, wood, paint, papers and more in my work areas. I get into a groove and become a working machine. I don't want to put stuff back when in said groove! So some areas become disheveled and require some extra tidying up. 

6 by 6 Arts workspace

We've had a few recent requests to be filmed/photographed in our workspaces, which is basically our entire home. So we had to do our spring cleaning a bit earlier than normal. I always love the clean slate of tidied up areas and it usually lasts a bit. I don't want you thinking that we live and work in a pig sty. We are maximalists, so we have a very full home but it's really not as cluttered or dirty as I make it sound. For me it was mostly the pressure of showing our workspaces to the world. It's intimate, personal and a brutally honest look into our life, especially since we work from our home. Whenever, I invite someone over, I want to make them feel welcome and not overwhelmed. There's a lot to look at in our home. Our kid's friends love being here because it is "homey".

Thea's desk area

I've been trying to remember to share little peeks of our home on Instagram. We do decorate and incorporate our own products around our home. We're our own product testers obviously and I know others like to see how we use them. Is there a product of ours that you'd like to see in action? Let me know in the comments and I'll make it happen.

As always- thanks so much for reading!

Lasers and love - Thea 

Work, work, work, work, work.

Hi! We've been working up a storm behind the scenes. The college babes are descending upon our homestead this evening and I've been baking up pies and other goodies in between jobs.

I've been organizing our inventory for upcoming shows and I keep happening upon prototypes and discontinued pieces. I found one prototype that I was particularly excited about creating. 

Circus Font Letters

Many laser cutters offer monogram and basic wood letters. They usually come in the standard fonts. When we received requests for similar jobs we really wanted to offer unusual fonts. I'm not a fan of clowns, but I am a huge fan of circus style fonts and typography. I hoped that someone shared that love and would be inspired to create themed display with our pieces. Manufacturing jobs pushed this project to the side but I still had our prototypes. 

With the holidays upon us, I thought I'd post this full circus font alphabet set for sale for any families that get inspiration for home decorating before friends and family come for visits.

This full alphabet set features 26 pieces of capital letters in circus font. They are 3.5" inches tall with varying widths from 2" to 5.5" depending on the letter.  They are an 1/8" inch thick and are made from birch plywood. Extensive engraving time was needed to achieve this great look. Each one has been lightly hand sanded. 

There is only one set available so get it while you can!

The listing for this set is available over at our Etsy Shop

Lasers and love - Thea 

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 

Process

We've been up to ears with things as of late. Which is great! We're managing well, it takes me a little extra time to get to emails and invoices but I'm tackling it one by one. 

Processing 880 wood boards.

We currently have a large custom manufacturing order on deck. So all new custom work requests have an extended turnaround time. 4-8 weeks depending on the complexity of the job. All retail orders are heading out as normal. So if you place an order from any of our shops, expect our normal delivery times. 

It kinda sucks when I don't have anything to interesting to share. BUT! I can't wait to share what this mega project is! Meanwhile, don't forget to get your daily dose (almost daily) of us over on Instagram. @6by6arts 

Lasers and love -Thea 

Wedding and garden planning!

While our "plates" have been quite full lately, and we've been managing pretty well! We're so excited to have some new wholesale accounts! A few of them are brand new stores! So exciting!!! What would be typically a slow time during the year has been a busy one for us thanks to that support.

Late night gluing magnets together party!

Wine bottle openers, paint brushes, spoons and a shot glass = evidence from working late at night.

We also have the added bonus of preparing for our own wedding later this year. Being creative people, we of course can't just settle for readymade anything. We created our own save the dates. We are currently designing our own wedding invitations and programs. We're trying to enlist as many of our fellow makers and small business owners for the things we need for the wedding. I'm very excited to be doing it this way. I will admit that I did buy a store bought dress. I had the crazy idea to make my own. But I came to my senses and realized that I wouldn't have time to actually do it. Nice thought though! 

We made our own save the dates! This is a shot of our envelopes laser cut out of weighted cardstock from French Paper Co.. This is our go-to for simple envelope design.

We also have domestic family stuff too. I've been a long time avid gardener (I only grow food well!) So like I do every time around this year I plan out our garden and start seeds. We've had quite the boost with the early warm weather already hitting us here in the PNW.

 Wildflower seeds gifted to us by  Native Ideals  for Montana. 

Wildflower seeds gifted to us by Native Ideals for Montana. 

I typically only focus on growing food. I do have flowering trees & shrubs and flowers for pollinators around the yard. But we were so kindly gifted some wild flower seeds from Native Ideals (their based out of Montana) I have to plan on including them in the garden this year! Their artwork on their seed packets are simply amazing! 

That pretty much catches you all up to date with us. At least for the next 24 hours! We are headed to Central Washington this weekend for some domestic stuff but I'll still post any interesting or ridiculous things we encounter on our Instagram

Lasers and love - Thea

Mostly Manufacturing

Well hello there. 

We've been busily filling wholesale orders and working on some great manufacturing projects that unfortunately, we can't share just yet. The laser has been busy and we've been all over Western Washington recently.

Riding shotgun in Whatcom County

Deliveries, new work and of course domestic stuff has kept me away from my computer. I've trying blogging on the road. Which basically turns into a text message with lots of photos. And taco emojis.

Our standard 1980's note (receipt) folded paper for shipments.

I've been editing product photos like a madwoman in hopes to release two new items this week. Along with more of a substantial post than this one. 

An average nighttime scene from our home. This unfinished Critical Hit sign looks quite nice chilling in my chair. 

We do post often on our Instagram. Two of the pictures in this post are actually from our IG. Be sure to check us out there for more of a daily update on our adventures and works.

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

This, that and things.

I haven’t posted much, mostly because I don’t have much to post about. I *know* as a business owner I need to post a bit more, but I have a hard time posting about disingenuous stuff/fluff. If you're going to read our blog, I hope to make it worth your while. 

Admittedly, I’ve been a bit slow going in other aspects, with exception of our orders. My eldest son moved away for college. He and my eldest daughter live in the same town now. That’s comforting, but the house is a little bit emptier. It works out for saving arguments for bathroom time in the morning, but being used to a large noisy group, our clan just got a little more quieter. We're adjusting to it slowly but surely. It has been awhile since we had this experience. 

I’ve personally been busy working on new designs (still) and revising our 2016 look book (still). John has been doing the stuff he normally does; tells me how a design won’t work and proceeds to find a way to make it work. He’s wonderful like that. He’s also been refining our trade show display for the Seattle Gift Show later this month, which is also a big project for us both. He makes it functional and I make it pretty. (We try at least.) It is a fun challenge though.

A small ornament version of our Forever Heart.

Well, as you can see in the photo above behind the new small ornament version of our Forever Heart, I have a brand new sketch book waiting for me to fill up! With David Bowie music filling the air around us, its hard not to be inspired to create.

One last thing, USPS rates will go up over the weekend and we will be adjusting shipping rates accordingly. Consider grabbing some stuff now while shipping is a bit cheaper.

Lasers and love -Thea 

Trying To Stay Tidy In A Sea Of Work

Earlier today I shared on Instagram that we actually don't have anything interesting to share at the moment. Unless you find sanding/staining/painting/assembling interesting. 

Lots of saw dust and sandpapers and paint brushes everywhere. It's the not the pretties sight. Of course this is the prime time for companies to request some "behind the scenes" pictures or videos. My knee jerk reaction is to say, "Uh no you don't want to see our studio." But I personally do like seeing where my favorite makers work. They usually have beautiful studios separate from their homes but a few are like us and work out of our garage and spare bedroom. So I am working on keeping things tidy to provide that insight on us. I can't promise it won't be kid or dog free. There are far more of them than there are of us. Lots of living happens here.

Pictured above is a thrift store $5.00 score. It's a rusty vintage metal toolbox. I LOVE toolboxes. (Side note) John and I love metal furnishings it's a nice thing to have in common as it's not for everyone. My dad owned an auto body shop (that we ran out of our garage) when I was growing up. When I was little, it was my responsibility to keep the tools organized and sorted in large toolboxes. I fell in love and appreciated them when I was old enough to work on the cars myself. This one will house all of my "fancy" pens and drawing tools. Not to just keep organized in the wave of work but also to send a signal to the kids "These are expensive pens and tools, mom might be really angry if I use these." I can hope for that right? 

Well, I'm going to get back at it. We have our last early (5 am) morning tomorrow for our volleyball daughter so I only have a few precious work hours left today. Stop back by Friday for  a special post!

Laser and love - Thea