Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Tips for Mounting Your Hand Carved Rubber Stamp

When mounting hand carved rubber stamps to wood, I would recommend using a pigment based ink such as Memento or VersaMagic by Tsukineko.  Of course, you may use any brand of ink you prefer.  I just happen to like these.

 STEP 1: Apply ink to your rubber stamp.
 STEP 2: Stamp the image to the top side of the wood mount.
 Looks great!  (It would be a good idea to clean and dry the stamp before moving on.)  Next...
STEP 3: Apply adhesive to the back side of your rubber stamp.  (I've used both E-6000 and Aleene's and they each work well.)
 STEP 4: Attach the rubber stamp to the wood mount.  Try to match the direction of the stamp with the image on the other side.
STEP 5: Set your rubber stamp aside in a safe place until the glue is fully cured (according to package directions.)  Remember that your mounted rubber stamp cannot be cleaned under running water.  To clean: Press stamp onto damp paper towel and gently pat dry.

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 an adhesive such as Tsukineko Tack 'N Peel.  (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.) NOTE: As of August 2015, wood parts are no longer available in my Etsy shop.

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.