Great Wave video … part three
Posted by Dave Bull at 8:48 PM, January 20, 2015 [Permalink]
The next 'Great Wave' video ...
Posted by Dave Bull at 11:23 PM, January 14, 2015 [Permalink]
Work begins on 'The Great Wave'
Posted by Dave Bull at 12:16 AM, January 6, 2015 [Permalink]
Which way will it go?
Posted by Dave Bull at 11:08 PM, December 31, 2014 [Permalink]
It's December 31st here in Tokyo. The shop closed a couple of hours ago, after a very busy day of Print Parties (two pre-arranged, and one drop-in) and general visitors. As all of our staffers have headed off to be with their families for the New Year, I've been handling things here myself for the past few days, and will be doing so until the 5th, when a couple of them return.
The guests at Asakusa today were all pretty relaxed about this though, and for a while there I had two of the Print Party attendees working away by themselves on prints while I talked to a couple of other people back in the shop. When I got back to the Party room, they were proud to show me the prints that they had made 'by themselves'. (The two of them and I had of course already been through the process for nearly a half-hour before the other people showed up ... so it's not like I had simply 'abandoned' them ...)
These Print Parties are turning out to be so much fun! I'm kicking myself for not setting this up years ago. We've got it set up so that people print the colour patterns first, and then print the black outline block last. (This is the reverse of our normal method of printing, but there are various technical reasons why it's better to do it this way during the Parties). I also don't have a sample of the finished print on display in the room, so the combination of these two things means that when the first person in line does finally lift the paper off the last block, it astonishes everybody just how good it looks. "Oh my God! Look what I made!" is a not uncommon thing for us to hear at that point ...
Here's a snapshot from the very first Print Party we held here, back on the day before we opened on November 1st, a family from Virginia (subscribers to our Portraits series, as it happens ...):
Smiles all around ... There is nobody who doesn't have fun doing this!
As I said though, it is now late in the evening of December 31st, and that means that my work for the next few hours is cut out for me. The year-end bookkeeping is turning out to be a massive job this year, as should be expected, what with all the new activities we've gotten tangled up with over the past 12 months.
I've been keeping up with it fairly well during the year - I'm not sitting here looking at a massive shoebox full of receipts that need to be sorted out - but the situation is so complicated (remember, there are now 14 people working for me!) that when I sat down this evening to make the final data inputs and to begin totalling up all the expenses, I myself was still not able to answer the 'big question' ... How did we do this year?
As I write, I've now basically finished one half of the final spreadsheet, the expense ledger. I can't close it off completely, because there will likely be a few more payments coming in over the next few hours before midnight, and that will mean some 'commissions' due to payment processing companies that will need to be included, but anyway, the basic total of how much we spent is now there on the table for me.
During the previous year (2013) we had a total of 13,597,568 yen of general expenses: labour, facilities, materials, publicity, you name it ...
The total for 2014? 22,868,952 yen ... up 68% over last year.
It seems that I personally - because this is a proprietorship - have spent more than 22 million yen over the past 12 months. And I was nervous last year when it climbed well past 10 million!
Now the expense figure by itself means nothing, of course. It has to be paired with another important number - our income. Working that out is going to take me another couple of hours, and as it's now approaching midnight, I think I'm going to take a break and go for a walk.
The large temple just around the corner from here - Sensoji - is one of Tokyo's major places for Hatsu Mode, the first temple/shrine visit of a new year, and all evening long I have seen from my window a stream of people heading in that direction. I doubt that I'll be able to get very close, but I think a stroll over there might be interesting ...
(I'll be back in the morning)
That was quite a 'stroll' last night! It's going to be interesting to look in the newspaper tomorrow and see what the estimate of the crowd was. It must have been in six figures, easily …
I found myself a vantage point at one side of the stairs leading up into the temple, and watched as the police let go of the ropes and allowed the waiting crowd to surge forward up the stairs.
The stream then flowed continuously, with the police letting the river up into the temple in batches of a thousand people at a time, holding the rest back with their ropes. When I tried to get back home, I found my way back to Roku-Dori blocked by that river of people waiting, but the police had set up various 'crossings', where they held it back for a minute or so while people could get across …
Anyway, back to work on the books this morning, finishing up by downloading the year-long transaction reports from Paypal and Square, our two credit card processors. What did I say last night? 'Some' commissions will need to be included … Hah! It turns out that I have paid a total of 882,088 in credit card commissions during the year. Adding them in pushes the overall total of our expenses to 23,751,040 … not 68% up over the previous year, but 72.2%!
(I wrote about this high commission situation in a previous post here on the Conversations. I think the situation will be changing rapidly during this coming year, with the entry of Apple into the payments field. I don't know if the amounts I pay in commissions will be decreasing or not, but I suspect they will no longer all be going to Paypal …)
So … with the final transactions now all into the various accounts, it's time to look at the other side of the ledger - the income! I've got that broken down into various sources:
Dave's personal printmaking: 1,716,378 This is now a shadow of what it used to be. My personal collectors have probably all now pretty much given up on waiting for my next print, although I myself certainly haven't. The 'Arts of Japan' will indeed get completed, although it is clear to all of us that it will take 'a while'.
Mokuhankan online sales (single prints): 1,940,097 This is revenue from our online catalogue of prints, mostly blocks that I carved for my Surimono Albums sets, and which our young printers are re-issuing one by one.
Ukiyoe Heroes (single prints through Jed): 4,708,400 The main Ukiyoe Heroes series is actually published by Jed Henry himself. He 'orders' them from us - the manufacturer - in batches during the course of the year, at a wholesale price, and sells them from his own website.
Ukiyoe Heroes (subscription prints): 14,036,585 The Chibi Heroes and Portraits prints are our single largest revenue item. This is 'backwards' from the main Heroes series; I am the publisher of these, handling all manufacture, sales and shipping, and pay Jed a royalty on sales.
Kickstarter sales (the September campaign): 2,510,000 This is not the entire amount subscribed to the campaign, but this is the portion that comes down to me. Another large portion was retained by my son-in-law as payment for his two months of construction work, and the rest will go to Canadian taxes, accounting, Kickstarter fees, and credit card processing fees (all of those being handled at Ioan's end, and thus not appearing in my own bookkeeping).
Asakusa shop sales: 844,298 The shop burst out of the gate in the first couple of weeks, but things settled down after that into a quieter mood. It's of course still running in the red, but we're not in the slightest bit worried about that. It's only been open two months, and will not see any major growth until we get covered in guidebooks and online reviews, both of which are looking very probable …
Adding it all up puts our gross income at 25,755,758 … or 69% up from the previous year, and leaving us with a nominal profit of 2,004,718 for 2014.
I say 'nominal' because there are a couple of rather major things not accounted for in the totals I just gave you. I booked the income from the Kickstarter, but have yet to deliver the 200+ copies of the Great Wave print. I have yet to make them! If the expenses for that were included, the 'profit' would be slimmer indeed …
And of course there still remains the fact that although my expense breakdown shows something on the order of 13 million yen going out for labour - to the 14 people I pay on the 1st of every month, there is actually a 15th person here, who doesn't get one of those pay slips.
My reward comes via email, blog posts, and even YouTube comments: "Mr. Bull, I'm in love with your process and the soothing manner with which you work. You are a legendary hero, at least to me. You are living the dream life as an artist and historian."
It's been an absolutely incredible year, and if you had told me a year ago that I would be sitting here on January 1st in my own Asakusa shop writing this I would have called the men in white coats to come and take you away.
I went back over to Sensoji in the afternoon of the 1st … they were still at it … the same groups of policemen letting people up the stairs in large batches. The Nakamise was still 'one way', and all the surrounding access was blocked off, to allow the river of people to stream from the subway station up into the temple uninterrupted …
Hundreds of thousands of people … all visiting Asakusa to pray for good fortune in the coming year … What do you think? Do I need to join them?
Sad News ...
Posted by Dave Bull at 8:50 AM, December 14, 2014 [Permalink]
Good-bye to a long-time friend and supporter ...
I have some unhappy news to report today. Long-time collector/friend Anita Cage from New Orleans has passed away, at 80.
I mention this here, because she has been a frequent commenter on these Conversations over the years, and some of the regular visitors may remember her name from reading some of these.
I'm not sure how much she would want me to write about this, but I certainly see no problem in mentioning a few things about my experience with her. It kind of goes without saying that she was a steady supporter of my work when it came to ordering prints; she not only basically took everything I made for the past decade or so, she made multiple purchases to give prints away to her friends and acquaintances.
But it was her open friendship, and willingness to contribute her thoughts and suggestions about my work that made it a pleasure to see her name in my email Inbox any given morning. She not only posted thoughtful commentary here on the blog, but she gave me plenty privately too, especially if she was concerned that her comments might possibly have been considered as 'criticism'.
I didn't know much about her personal life, but after reading some of the material that has been posted about her on the internet this week, it seems that I was very lucky that such a friendly and supportive person came to develop an interest in supporting my activities. Have a look a this online obituary … and this thread from the MetaFilter group, where the members learned of her passing. She was clearly a very special lady.
I am of course very saddened to hear that she is gone, but am very happy to have known her. I wish she would have given us a better chance to say 'good-bye' properly, but I understand why she did not feel able to do that ...
Posted by Dave Bull at 4:02 PM, December 11, 2014 [Permalink]
I wrote a piece about online reviews in the A Story A Week series a couple of weeks back … and it has begun! We're scored the first online review of our Print Parties …
Trip Advisor has a system where they supply code to put onto your page that allows viewers to see your current 'rating' and to click through to see reviews, so I'll copy that code right here:
Plan of Attack ...
Posted by Dave Bull at 10:12 PM, December 8, 2014 [Permalink]
I've kind of learned to stop 'counting chickens', but my resolve is being strongly tested by that communication from her ...
I think I mentioned in a post a couple of weeks back that - with the major construction work now behind us, and the shop basically up and running - it was now going to be time to get busy with letting the world know we are here.
Because we don't have enough staff to dedicate someone specifically to publicity and promotion work, we're going to take this in stages, snatching time from our normal work as best we can. The overall 'plan' is something like this:
- because they presumably have very long lead times, get notifications out to the major international guidebooks as soon as possible
- move on and do the same thing with travel-related magazines and websites
- back up these efforts by trying to identify freelance writers specializing in travel, and get information out to them too
- get our Print Party pamphlets into the racks at as many hotels, hostels, and other accommodations as possible
- ditto for Tourist Information offices
- all those items are focussed on the 'inbound' foreign tourists, but Asakusa is a very big destination for domestic travellers too, so start again at the top of the list, this time working in Japanese ...
I've written it down there as a kind of 'ordered list', but we're actually working back and forth on different parts of it together. We've got a quite nice English pamphlet ready, and Fujii-san (who is doing printing for us, and also acting as a bilingual Print Party Hostess) has begun trying to get them into hotels, beginning with those in our immediate vicinity. Some are receptive and some are not, but she'll keep at it until we start to see some results.
I myself worked on the top item on the list - trying to get information out to guidebook publishers, and found this to be quite a bit easier than I had expected. I began searching for physical addresses, expecting that I would be sending out printed information packages, but it turns out that most of the publishers have dedicated contact forms on their websites for business who would like to be featured in their publication. I spent a couple of days on this, creating a simple and clear description of our business, and sending it off to pretty much every guidebook publisher on the planet.
I'm a newbie in the travel business of course, so I'm not quite sure what to expect from this. Some of the publishers put information on their site making it clear that they will not communicate with us. They may - or may not - consider us, and they may - or may not - send a writer to check us out, but in either case, there isn't much we can do about it but wait and see what happens. I presume that visits would be unannounced (like professional restaurant reviewers), in order to ensure that the writers were getting the same experience as a member of the general public, and that suits me just fine. We're trying to give everybody a good experience, so what else could we do ...
So I was very surprised just a couple of days later to get an email from a lady letting me know that she was working on the Asakusa page of an upcoming edition of one of the biggest guidebooks in print, perhaps the most popular of them all. She was very enthusiastic about the information we had sent, was eager to come and try it for herself, and had a number of questions. I sent the additional information she requested, and said that we would of course make ourselves available for whatever other requests she might have.
At 63, I've kind of learned to stop 'counting chickens', but my resolve is being strongly tested by that communication from her. I'm walking around telling myself, "Dave; don't get excited! Not too excited, anyway. If this happens, it would have a stunning effect on our business ... but that's 'if'. So keep the champagne locked up!"
And in any case, the guidebook in question won't hit the bookshelves until the Autumn of 2015 (then staying in print for two years, before being replaced by the subsequent edition), so any benefits won't be immediately apparent. We're going to have to keep pushing at this.
We've also begun the 'other side' of the campaign, sending info to Japanese guidebook publishers, but the response has been ... umm ... different. I've got to get back to my Inbox just now though, so let's save that for next time ... :-)
Mokuhankan Staff Letter - end of November 2014
Posted by Dave Bull at 11:05 PM, November 27, 2014 [Permalink]
"The first month of our (hopefully) long adventure in Asakusa is now behind us. I have to say right up front that I am quite happy with the way that things have gone during this early stage. We've encountered a couple of minor bumps, but overall I think we have done a good job in bringing this new place to life."
An open letter from Dave to the Mokuhankan staff, after our first month of operation in Asakusa.
The first month of our (hopefully) long adventure in Asakusa is now behind us. I have to say right up front that I am quite happy with the way that things have gone during this early stage. We've encountered a couple of minor bumps, but overall I think we have done a good job in bringing this new place to life.
The best indicator of this has been the reaction and feedback from the customers who have visited so far. You have heard their comments - "What a beautiful place!" being perhaps the most common - and you have certainly felt their reaction after a Print Party. Every single person who has participated in one of these events has enjoyed it ... immensely.
Our first month of business has confirmed a number of things:
- we have a fabulous location - perhaps none better in Tokyo
- we have an excellent 'product' - our Print Parties are a wonderful experience for people, and our woodblock prints (as you all know) are growing in popularity day by day. We are bringing very good value to society by offering these things, and this is recognized by our fans and customers
- we now have the core of a good staff to operate the business - our 'team' is not very solid yet, but we clearly have a good foundation to start
- our timing is perfect - there will be a flood of visitors to Japan over the coming years (a very large percent of these coming to Asakusa) and the yen exchange rate - after years of frustration - is very much in our benefit, and may even get better for us over the next few years
Absolutely every possible facet of this business is lined up in our favour. There is an expression in English to describe this situation: "The game is ours to lose ..." It means that unless we make a lot of very large and silly mistakes, we are pretty much guaranteed to succeed.
I would like thank you all for your assistance so far in this work. I know that I have sometimes not been very clear in giving you good direction and guidance on how to do your new jobs, but just like you, I too am new at this. Many years ago I ran a large music shop (we had around 14~15 full-time staff) quite successfully, but that was when I was much younger. I certainly can't do such a thing by myself any longer, and it will be very important to our new business that we organize a good division of our work, with everybody quite clear about what their jobs should be.
Every single one of us is going to have to wear multiple 'hats' over the coming months. I myself took off my 'Construction Hard Hat' a few weeks ago, but haven't yet managed to find a new one that fits well. My own schedule for the next few weeks (perhaps for the rest of the year) is going to be completely taken up with a combination of jobs:
- physical printmaking work. I have to get the very late Blue Storm print finally into production, then of course I must get the Great Wave carved, and I also have to prepare the sizing on a mountain of printing paper (hopefully avoiding a repeat of the disaster of last month's sizing work ...)
- running Print Parties, and 'training' other staff members to the point where they can handle Parties by themselves
- continuing to run our 'background systems', the online ordering and the subscription series processing
In order to help organize our work over the next few weeks, let me outline some of the important jobs that need to be undertaken during the coming month (over and above our ongoing printmaking work):
- we need to - quickly - fix our Japanese web site, to bring it up-to-date with our current situation. We need a good page explaining our Print Parties, and we need both an on-line reservation form, and a way for people to make reservations other ways (telephone, email, etc.)
- we need to begin our first 'media campaign' for Japanese media (TV, radio, magazines, newspapers). I have experience of doing this - during the years that I had an annual exhibition - and am confident that we have pretty good 'media power', and can attract some good attention.
- we need to begin the long process of contacting the editors of every Japan-related guidebook on this planet. I stopped in Maruzen books on the way back to Ome the other night, and found over 20 major guidebooks for Japan, with another dozen or so just for Tokyo, and we need to be in all of these, next time they are updated. I then went over to the domestic travel section and was stunned at what I found. There are literally hundreds of guidebooks, magazines, and guide maps whose editors would be interested in learning about our shop and our Print Parties. Contacting all these publishers is going to be a huge task.
- we have to catch up on a ton of overdue bookkeeping work. I usually do this alone, but have not touched it since the beginning of September and I now need help to get it back up to date ...
I will be talking with most of you over the next couple of days, and trying as best I can to get these jobs broken into bite-size pieces, and assigned to suitable people. Please help me get these things organized well - it is very important now that we begin to spread the word to the world about our wonderful little shop!
And one final reminder to everybody. Every westerner who visits Japan always goes home with a very strong impression of how 'The Japanese people are so polite!', and of course I know that people who visit our shop will get the same impression. But being 'polite' is actually not enough - I want to treat our visitors with warmth.
If you yourself will enjoy dealing with them, and let them feel that enjoyment, then this will happen.
Thank you again, and let's have fun moving forward with this little project of ours!
Two Years in the planning ...
Posted by Dave Bull at 9:32 PM, November 26, 2014 [Permalink]
We're ready to announce our new subscription series for 2015!
… and that 'two years' is no exaggeration. Jed and I have been thinking about a certain project for over two years now, right from the time of our first Kickstarter together.
He is a crazy sketcher, and I am a crazy woodblock carver. So it is a no-brainer that we should create a book of sketches, you know … a 'Henry Manga', along the lines of the well-known Hokusai Manga from years gone by.
But we haven't been able to figure out how to actually put such a thing onto the market. To make such a book would take at least a year …
Well, we have finally figured out how to make it happen, and no, it's nothing to do with Kickstarter!
The website is here!
Another day, another party …
Posted by Dave Bull at 7:22 PM, November 16, 2014 [Permalink]
The busiest day so far in our little shop ...
Which is worse, a blog post with no pictures, or no blog post …
We had a chance for the perfect photo to illustrate this post today, but we simply didn't have a chance to snap it. When I say 'we', I mean staffer Shiba-san and I, who were running the ship today, and we certainly didn't have time to mess around with cameras!
It was a beautifully clear blue sky Sunday, and Roku-dori (as our street is officially known) was jammed from late morning until long after we shut the door around six or so. That's nothing unusual for this street, but - as I have mentioned before here on this blog and in the A Story A Week - traffic on the street hasn't translated directly into traffic up our stairs.
But we've been playing around with the entranceway a bit, and are now on (I think) our 4th iteration of the poster on the front door, and we've also put a pamphlet rack down there, and have put a series of signs on the stair risers: … Come up … and browse … our prints ...
It's been helping, bit by bit, and today things kind of clicked, because it was a madhouse here for much of the afternoon. At one point, we had people coming up the stairs, trying to poke their nose in, and heading back down; there was simply no room for them.
The first Print Party started around one in the afternoon (reserved online) with five people, and the next group of three was waiting for me as they finished, and the next group was waiting after them. And in-between, other people - who couldn't wait long enough - ended up leaving with no chance to try it …
The photo I wanted to show you was the scene I caught a glimpse of just near the end of one Party, with the Party room full, the next three people getting their aprons on, more people on stools waiting in line, and in the 'distance' people spilling into the hallway from the shop area.
We actually didn't sell a ton of stuff today, and just made our 'base target' (the daily level we need to keep things going), but a major factor in that was the fact that it was just too difficult for people to quietly look at prints.
I have no idea how to start to get this chaos organized. I think the Print Parties will settle down; once they become more widely known, we'll simply ask everybody to reserve in advance, and won't do the 'drop in, let's do this anytime' that we are currently offering. That should stabilize the Party side, but as for the shop, there isn't much I can do at this point. We have a very tight space, and there is simply no way that we can expand it.
And of course it isn't going to be like this every day. Tomorrow and the next day will be very quiet probably, perhaps nobody at all will come in, and we'll be able to get some printing work done, as well as some of the waiting paperwork.
Our roller-coaster ride continues ...
The money goes round ...
Posted by Dave Bull at 12:23 AM, November 11, 2014 [Permalink]
An update on the delay in getting paid by Kickstarter ...
A bit of a different update tonight ... I recently posted stories about our opening days to my A Story A Week series [1 2], so anybody interested in reading about 'how we are doing' so far can check those for an update. Here on the Conversations blog, I'd like to update you with some info on a more hidden side of our business.
Everybody knows that we ran a Kickstarter campaign a couple of months back. It gathered quite a lot of support from our old fans and friends (and of course a bunch of new ones), and the money people spent there was intended to help us build our new shop. As I wrote in the campaign page, we thought we had basically enough money to cover everything, but ran the campaign anyway, because we felt that things were just too 'close'.
That was one of the smartest things I have ever done. As Lee-san, Ioan and I got deeper into the renovation, we came across many aspects of the work that caused problems and delays (completely normal for a renovation of an old structure of course.) The work that I had originally thought could be done in 'around a month or so' took us the best part of two months. My labour costs thus doubled, and we also lost the (anticipated) revenue from what would have been our first month open, but which was instead an extended renovation period.
In addition to this delay, my absence from the Ome workshop led that work to fall further and further behind. My crew kept up (barely) with the subscription prints, but a lot of other things got ignored, and over the past few weeks, things became pretty shaky, with all manner of jobs waiting for 'Dave to do something' before they could proceed properly.
Money became a real problem. My accounts were scraped to the bottom, my credit card was maxed out, and it was only the prospect of Kickstarter money arriving that kept us moving forward. But where was the Kickstarter money? The campaign ended at the end of September; surely we had the money by now, didn't we?
Well, no. At the end of the campaign, Kickstarter waited the advertised two-week period for peoples' payments to clear, and then sent the money to Ioan's account in Canada. But as he was still in Japan working on the construction, he was unable to initiate the international transfer, something that had to be done in person at his Vancouver bank.
After he returned to Vancouver in mid October, he immediately started that process, but it didn't go smoothly. The first two transfer attempts were returned to his bank (after about a week of delay each time) and it wasn't until just about a week ago - right on the last day of October - that his bank told him that it had gone through.
My payroll was due at the beginning of November, and I had nowhere near enough money to cover it, not to mention a ton of other bills due, but there was no sign of the money from Canada. As we moved into November, I asked many of the staff to 'please hang on a bit longer', and I got the credit card company to extend more credit to allow me to pay the people who had rent or mortgages due, and who were thus unable to wait.
And still nothing came through.
Late Friday night, I found out what the problem was. I had returned to Ome after nearly a week down at the shop, and found a stack of mail and newspapers in the entranceway. The Ome staff had not touched any of this, but as I went through it I found a letter from the Post Office Bank. It told me that money had arrived for me from overseas, but that they were unable to deposit it into my account until I answered a few questions. I'll scan it here for you ...
Yes. For nearly a week, the Post Office had been waiting for me to confirm that I am not a terrorist, and that I am not buying weapons of mass destruction.
At the bottom of the letter was contact information (a phone number) with the note: "Office hours Monday to Friday, 9 to 5"
I called the number Monday morning (this morning) at 9:00:01 and spoke with a young lady, trying as well as I could to avoid screaming abuse at her. She had a script to follow, and insisted on reading the full text of each of those questions, one by one. I answered properly, mightily resisting the impulse to shout out something about the delay in my most recent missile shipment ... She then replied that the money would be in my account the next morning.
At that point, I did lose it. I put on the coldest hardest harshest voice I could, and demanded that the remittance be deposited into my account by noon. Noon, at the latest.
I spent the next hour or so busy at this keyboard distributing it to other accounts, from which I made transfers to cover all the overdue bills, and of course all the staff salaries. There is even a bit left. Not much, but something.
All the expenses of building this new place are now paid and behind us. I am debt free, my credit card cleaned off. We don't quite have enough in the bank to cover next month's salaries, but there are three weeks left this month, during which we will of course have more income. We still have to fulfill all the Kickstarter rewards, but that's something we can handle in the normal course of business over the next couple of months (most of the two 'in stock' reward prints have already been shipped, and work on the Great Wave print will now get underway ...)
We're up and running!
Today at the shop was the second day of our Open House, and a number of business friends dropped by near the end of the day, including carver Asaka-san, the man who did the negotiations of the lease agreement on this place so many months back. I left the stack of stuff on my desk to stew by itself, and asked them to join me for dinner, taking them to a nice little place I have discovered just around the corner from our shop. We hoisted a few beers, and I happily accepted their congratulations on the opening.
After they left, I cleaned up a bit in the shop, put out the shop garbage bags for the morning, and then headed for the station to begin the long journey back to Ome, where I have to spend tomorrow with the staff here catching up on all the waiting backlog.
I'm now at my desk in Ome, posting this just after midnight Tokyo time. I've had a bit too much beer this evening, and am kind of tired, but hey, it's now my birthday!
It's been a pretty good few years, these past few ... since taking the decision to 'open up' the workshop and bring in other people. I could not have imagined any of these recent experiences, and I guess that's the way it's going to be for the next little while ... I honestly have no idea where this thing is headed. We're on a kind of rocket, and we all know what that means: either a steady flight to a stable orbit, or .... ka-boom, and nothing left but dust. There is no inbetween.
But what a ride!
Grand Tour ... (Part II ...)
Posted by Dave Bull at 6:52 AM, November 4, 2014 [Permalink]
Part 2 of the Grand Tour of the new shop!
Moving along with the tour ... let's insert here one of those photos from the previous post a few months back:
And here we are now:
At this point, I can mention that the owner of the building - a very elegant 'little old lady' type - visited us today, seeing her building for the first time since she leased it to us. She has had no idea at all what we were actually up to, and when she got to this point, her face just lit up. (And well it should - we've basically made her a 'present' of around $35,000 ...)
Anyway, moving right along!
The panel on the right hand side of the wall - directly where people who are in the shop area will see it - is the HangaClub display:
And if we look to the left, through the new opened up wall, we can see into the shop itself:
My cheap little camera can't handle the contrasts in lighting here, but you get the idea - these are the browsing bins for the prints, of course.
As promised all the way along, there is a small 'light stand' next to the bins, where people can place the prints to see then under 'proper' (horizontal) illumination. It's not actually as bright as it looks in this bad photo ...
The prints look just great!
Turning around, we see the other end of the shop, and I have to apologize that this corner is not yet ready. We're actually using it as our own space (register, etc.) at the moment, but over the next week, we will build the 'Living with Woodblock Prints' browsing section - subscription series, albums, etc. etc.)
Behind it - at the end of the hallway, is where the staff - and shop manager - will have their own space (also still under construction):
This next one you've seen before, but now it's all cleaned up and polished, and ready for action. See the panel above the paper rolls? Instructions! (Shop manager Ishikawa-san thinks I've gone overboard with those, but all I did was explain quite tersely, the functions of the first group of buttons. I ignored all the rest ...) (I'll post the text in the comments section below ...)
And as for the 'back room' - the printer's workshop - we're not even close. All the 'furniture' is there, but it's now waiting for myself and Lee-san to put it together. Maybe next week we'll have a better picture for you!
Actually, by next week we'll have to have a better picture. Next Sunday/Monday will be the 'Open House' days (invitations are going out tomorrow), so we have no choice but to get it done by then ...
Sleep? Never touch the stuff!
After I took these photos, it was time to head home, so I went to the front door, and switched the sign to the 'closed' position (sticking it to more velcro tape on the inside of the glass:
And then left the street to the night hawks and the jeweler ...
Thanks for watching ...
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