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 

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

Working through the weekend!

Happy weekend friends! We ended up without power Tuesday through early morning Thursday. We live in a some what rural area with lots of trees that can topple over. There was a big one that came down on our main road and knocked out a few lines. We're used to that sort of thing  here and anticipate it. We have an amazing wood burning stove that kicks out so much heat that we were walking around in t-shirts. 

Baberham & Toki = fireplace fans. 

Here are two of our brood napping in front of the fire. They came home peeled off some wet socks (left the towels and wet socks on the floor as you can see) and passed out. 

Here are two of our brood napping in front of the fire. They came home peeled off some wet socks (left the towels and wet socks on the floor as you can see) and passed out. 

We've been playing catch up since. We only had one delayed order to a fellow local maker (Hapertas & Co.) who was also sitting in her home without power. 

I created this design a while back without a project in mind. Hapertas & Co. contacted me wanting a fresh option for stylish lapel pins for her line. A perfect marriage happened! We altered my original design to suit her product's needs. American sourced maple and walnut woods that she pairs with the most wonderful fabrics. Please check out HapertasCo.com for more information.

I know this is an unusual day for me to post. I try to keep our posts to Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. But you know how the rollercoaster of life goes. You just jump on where you can. I hope everyone stays warm out there! 

Lasers and love - Thea 

New Stockist - The Space Needle

I'm not even sure how to begin this one because I have so many feels about it!

I'm a native Washingtonian that grew up on Whidbey Island during a time where there really wasn't much but trees and the Navy. My mom is Asian and we'd often make trips into the city for "Asian" food supplies long before there was any ethnic markets close by. I distinctly remember my dad driving, my mom singing off key to the current tunes of the early 80's and me peering out of my backseat window and seeing the Space Needle rise up on the horizon as we got closer to the International District. 

Every time I saw the Space Needle I'd imagine one of two things - that Seattle was the land of The Jetson's or that Wheedle was sitting atop the Needle. Seattle was a magical land to this small town island girl and the Space Needle was and still is THE landmark of the city.

A page from a vintage coloring book I've had for years. I referred to this for inspiration during the design process. 

When you think of city landmarks, you think tourists. When you think of tourists, you think of souvenirs. A lot of times they are cheap little magnets with a glossy photo enclosed in plastic, or something along those lines. When we were approached by the Space Needle people; A.) I don't think I've ever tried to act so cool and collected in my life. B.) They told me that they were interested in adding some new but different products for their gift shop. I think I actually looked around to see if I was the person who that question was being directed at. And C.) When they told me to "just see what I can come up with" and gave us permission to use their image and brand name, I went into full on panic. 

Why would the great and awesome Space Needle people ask me and my extremely tiny company to do anything for them? They could ask anyone to do this sort of thing for them, but they asked us. A local mom and pop shop. Whoa.

While we can get down with some elaborate design work, I really felt that we should keep the products we pitched at them simple and functional. 

Pages from my sketchbook: Although, the artwork is crude, we first spend a lot of time flushing out the concept before we laser cut the prototype. We decide if the layout works or in this case how usable would the writing area be. I often leave question marks on the pages about various things. 

I drew out a simple layout of a small chalkboard with the silhouette of the Space Needle cut out. Lots of usable space for love notes or reminders. I envisioned someone picking one up on New Year's Eve and someone writing a proposal on it. (Hey, I said I had the feels with this one!)

The second thing we pitched was a souvenir magnet. We really wanted it to be unique amongst the others. This was my opportunity to incorporate a small bit of my childhood imagination. The Jetson's shapes and sounds always made me think of the Space Needle. So I sketched out a mid century modern shape and John found an image of the Space Needle that included the architectural underground footings in their image archives that he liked. We selected a font similar to one on their website. Their website by the way, is AWESOME. 

Pages from my sketchbook: I drew out many versions of the wood magnet. I had a mid century modern "Jetson's like shape in mind. Like always with my raw drawings John took an actual picture of my drawing and used it as a guide in Corel to fine tune it. 

We did this as we do all of our original work, we both do crucial parts of the development. I depended on John to help me finalize the shapes I was hoping for. Sometimes I just can't draw the exact thing I had in mind. Also, I am far better at drawing freehand rather than in outlines. I initially spent a lot of time actually drawing the Space Needle in great detail. PAGES of drawings. The our final prototypes were approved on the first submission. 

We rounded the edges from my original drawing. 

Close up of the laser cut out Space Needle. We have a bunch of these cut outs now in the studio. 

We were able to engrave the product details and pricing on the back. Which is so awesome in a retail environment.

The final shape was the shape I had envisioned. I want to publicly compliment John for being so great at figuring out what I was trying to get out. The architectural design with the footings looks so great! It's hard to tell here because this is a picture from my phone, but I was so excited to share this news I took a quick photo to share.

It's an honor to have been asked to do this for the Space Needle. We're continuing to develop more too! Next time you're at the Space Needle look for our work. 

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

Mom and Pop workshop

John and I spent our weekend putting together a rush order. Laser engraving and tying hundreds of tags for a PR company that represents a liquor company. They are the tags that are placed around the neck of the bottles. 

customlaserengravedtags

The logo is amazing and the tags turned out awesome. The tags are engraved on both sides and we hand tied each tag so they are ready for use. For jobs like this John and I are like an assembly line and we crank stuff out. 

While we love creating our own original designs but doing corporate branding jobs are quite fun and fuel our OCD tendencies. 

Lasers and love, Thea