Tuesday, September 1, 2015

One Day in the Life / Moving Forward


One Day in the Life

The day begins at 4am.  "Mombie" makes her way to the kitchen to push the button to get the coffee started.  She shuffles back to her desk, opens the computer, selects the day's music, and purges her email.  Then she checks the clipboard to see what orders she has in her queue, and if there are any, she'll prepare the rubber for carving.  "Beep! Beep! Beep!"  The coffee maker lets her know that the coffee's ready.

She'll carve until the boys wake up.  When they make their way in, she'll stop to say, "Good morning!" and get breakfast going.  After they've eaten, the boys are allowed a little free time to play before lessons.  Mom (no longer "Mombie") goes back to the desk to get a little more carving done.  But first, she'll check to see if she has any messages she needs to respond to.  That sometimes takes a little while.  Once things are buttoned up online for the moment, she picks up the cutter and begins again.

About an hour later it's time to stop and give attention to the children.  They are a home educating family and so her second "job" begins for the day.  (Wait, did she take a shower?  She'll get them situated with their lessons and run and do that real quick.)  When their lessons are done they all have chores to do; then the rest of the day is theirs to do with as they wish.  Usually, the boys will play Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare, or draw, or sculpt characters from polymer clay.  She will return to her desk to collect that morning's carved stamps and take them into their kitchen to clean.

Once they are cleaned and dried she'll gather the supplies to attach them to their wood mounts.  First she'll stamp the wood pieces and carefully arrange the stamps in an order so that they will be returned to their respective mount after they've been cleaned.  When all of the mounts have been stamped, each stamp will be cleaned and dried again, then carefully returned to the proper mount.  They'll sit this way for a while so that she's sure the rubber is fully dried before applying glue.  Once the rubber stamps are attached to the wood mounts, they'll sit this way for several hours, undisturbed, so that the glue has an opportunity to set.

"Mom, I'm hungry!"  A boy is rustling in the refrigerator for something to eat.

"Use the other counter," she says.  "Do NOT put anything on that counter.  If you spill food on those stamps..." she warns. (Yes, juice had been spilled, but only ONCE before.  She had to begin the mounting process all over again for that set of stamps; that was a day they'll all remember.)

This day's batch of stamps is set aside, so she goes back to her desk to arrange shipping and packaging for the stamps from the day before.  Her carving desk becomes a little shipping center.  The carving tools and mat have been put away, and her pens, stamps, and pads come out to play.  Because she enjoys decorating, each label will be stamped according to her mood that day.  Each invoice receives a hand written note and she completes these packages.  Now they're ready to go to the post office.

"Boys!  Get your shoes on, we've got to run!"  The older boy takes pride in gathering the packages as his seat in the car is right behind Mom's and he can feed the packages into the mail box in the driveway at the post office.

A few minutes later they're back home again.  She gathers that day's mounted stamps from the kitchen counter and moves them back to her desk.  It's time to get dinner started. Her husband will be home soon.



Moving Forward
This whole summer has been difficult, but August has been a particularly overwhelming month for me.  The number of orders I've had on my clipboard were a lot for one person (it's just me!) to keep up with.  I did my very best to stay caught up and get orders out before their 14 day lead time, but more times than not, the orders were sent out on day 14.  I know that's a long time to wait for an order. (I got the messages.)  I don't like it, either, and I appreciate very much those who understand that there is a lot more happening in my corner of the world than sitting at a desk all day carving stamps. As much as I enjoy carving during the morning hours, this work absolutely consumes me for the rest of the day.  Some changes need to be made so that I may ENJOY carving (and hopefully getting back to making sock monkeys, and maybe getting some knitting done for the holidays,) and better manage my time with my family.

I am not a rubber stamp manufacturer.  I am not, nor do I use, a machine.  I do enjoy creating and carving, and even more so, I delight in your pleasure from using tools which I have created.  I love to share this medium with all of you; but I cannot allow this to consume me every day.  My hope is to get to take more hikes and spend more time in my garden.  For this, I have made the decision to eliminate the mounting process so that I may continue to carve the stamps that we all enjoy.  (Maybe a sock monkey will find its way into the shop once in a while.)

The only "bad news", which isn't really BAD NEWS, is that the stamps will no longer come mounted onto wood.  Let me explain why this is not so bad:

Wood warps.  It is a fact that wood is a natural, porous material and that when it gets wet, it swells. These rubber stamps will not perform as well with a warped wood mount and the chance of detachment increases when the glue gets wet.  With stamps mounted to wood we are forced to be very careful with the cleaning of our rubber stamps, to not get the wood wet, and to carefully return the stamps to their place of storage for safe-keeping.

Wood mounts take up more space in our storage.  Yes, it's nice to have a little handle to hold on to, but the reality is that mounted wood stamps take up a lot of space that could be used for...  let's face it, more rubber stamps.

Let's consider a few reasons to be "okay" with this change:

Easier cleaning: You may clean your rubber stamp under water, gently, with a soft brush and not worry about compromising the wood mount.   (That's huge!)

More storage:  There will be more storage space for even more rubber stamps.

Stamps will ship more quickly:  That's right!  Rubber stamps will ship more quickly with the elimination of the mounting process.

If you prefer your rubber stamps mounted, that's okay!  I'm not saying that you can't have them mounted.  I'm only saying that I am not mounting stamps anymore.  I will have wood pieces available as an option to purchase as an "add on" if you should choose to mount your stamp at home in the spirit of DIY.  OR you may simply adhere your rubber stamp to an acrylic block with a piece of tape folded over or with double-sided adhesive.  (That would be the best option, as it would use fewer supplies and take up less space in your collection.)
Any questions?

Will the stamps be less expensive than before?
No.  In the four years that I have been carving I have not once raised my prices.  (But do you know who has?  My suppliers.)  It takes more time than one would think to carve rubber stamps by hand. In reality, I'm probably underpaid for my work.  I will not be reducing my prices, but will continue to carve an affordable, handmade piece for your collection.

Will I have to pay for the wood pieces if I want to mount the stamps myself?
Yes.  I would prefer to not purchase them anymore at all, but I will carry them for your convenience and offer them at a very low cost (between $.15 - $.80 each) so that you may mount your stamp at home.  (Note: wood parts WILL NOT be available for purchase alone as a "supply".  They will only be available to purchase with rubber stamps for mounting purposes.)

Can I pay extra to have my stamp mounted?
No.  I will no longer be mounting rubber stamps.  That was always a dreaded process for me and it takes up a lot of space in our little kitchen.  I fear that if that were an option, I'd be right back to where I was in the beginning.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Simply Lovely Tags - A Tutorial


 I just added these two lovely little stamps to my Etsy shop and was inspired to make a few tags with them.  To make these tags you'll need just a few basic supplies.

Card stock (I cut mine into 2.25" x 3.25" rectangles)
Rubber stamps
Ink for your stamps
Scissors or paper cutter
Circle punch (1.25", or size desired)
Double adhesive foam dots
Marker (Sharpie rocks!)
Corner punch
Hole punch
Mod Podge Dimensional Magic
String, yarn, or thread
Chalk ink (optional)
 I happened to have four images stamped onto scrap card and I just hate throwing things away.  I knew that I had a punch that I could use to salvage the images.  (This is where you will use your favorite stamp(s) on card stock.  Let it dry, then punch them out.)  I used my favorite red Sharpie to color in the hearts on two of the yarn stamps, then I applied Mod Podge Dimensional Magic over the surface of the hearts.  

Set those aside so they don't get smudged.

 It's so pretty!

For the other two stamps I used chalk ink to rub over the edges of the circles to add a bit of color and dimension to the tag.  Just so you know, you don't HAVE to use chalk ink.  I happened to use dye based ink on the images with the embossed hearts.  The ink you use really depends on the effect you're trying to achieve.  Experiment and try all possible ways!  You may just discover what YOU like best.

Use a corner punch to cut the top corners off.  I liked the way it looked with the bottom corners left as they were.  
Punch the hole at the top where you'll thread your string, attach the adhesive dots, and attach your punched circles to the top of the dots.
 And that's it!  



Thursday, December 4, 2014

Making Thank You Cards - A Tutorial

About a week ago I added a Thank You stamp to my Etsy shop and I've been having a lot of fun with it since.  Here's a little tutorial  t show how I made these nifty little Thank You cards.

Keep in mind that just because I do something a certain way or use a certain supply, doesn't mean that you HAVE to use the exact same tools that I do.  I'm only sharing with you how I did it.  Feel free to explore with tools that you have on hand.  Remember, it's supposed to be fun and easy!
Begin by gathering your supplies.  
I cut my pieces of card stock down to 4" x 5.5".  This way when they're folded the cards measure 2.75" x 4"... happens to be just right for holding a business card!
Using a 2 inch circle punch I cut a small stack of circles.  Whatever I don't use for this project will be set aside and ready to go for next time. 
Using dye based ink I stamped a hibiscus over the surface of the folded card.  (Dye based ink dries quickly and I prefer it for this type of project.)  Don't forget to keep a piece of scrap paper underneath to catch the ink that doesn't make it onto your card!

Keep a damp towel on hand to clean your stamp between colors!
Something I like to do is draw a line around the edge of the card between the stamped images.  It creates a sort of a border.  It's one of many ways of enhancing the design.
Now back to all of those circles.  The Thank You stamp is just a bit larger than the 2 inch circle, but I don't mind.  That's why I use the surface of an ink pad to gently brush the edges to add a bit of color to sort of "close" it in.  It also helps to make the circle "pop" away from the card.  When you're finished with coloring the circles, turn them over and add those nifty foam dots.  Aren't those great?! 

Aren't those pretty?  Just a few simple supplies and you've got your very own personalized Thank You cards.  I'd love to see what you come up with.  Please share your photos with me by tagging me on Instagram or posting to my Facebook page.  Happy crafting!