Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Still stamping

I did some research yesterday and was encouraged to find it may be possible to restore my age-hardened rubber stamps to their former rubbery flexibility.

More than one stamper recommends glycerin – straight from the drugstore – as the miracle substance. One woman said she brought several stamps back to life by soaking a paper towel in glycerin, setting the dried-out stamps face down on the towel, and enclosing the whole shebang in an airtight container for a couple of days.
Others sing the praises of a product called Stampin’ Mist, which is claimed to clean and renew rubber stamps. Mine are far enough gone that I think glycerin is needed.

Also, my ink pads have all dried out. I have usable roll-on inkers in black, green, and red, but no blue, no purple, no other exotic colors. So I went to Hobby Lobby this morning, since that’s the last place I saw any rubber stamps or supplies. They have lots and lots of pre-inked pads, but virtually no re-inkers. WTF? Also, they have the biggest collection of lame, unimaginative, cutesy rubber stamps I’ve ever seen.
Hobby Lobby obviously caters to the unimaginative crafty Martha Stewart types who just want to decorate with rubber stamp images.

I come from a different direction, having been drawn into stamping by Joni K. Miller’s amazing Rubber Stamp Album, published in late 1978. I was inspired, in part, by the bizarre mail art created by Jerzy Kosinski, author of The Painted Bird and Being There. My taste runs more toward Dada than decorative and there’s nothing at Hobby Lobby that speaks to that perspective. I like my images to be edgy or anachronistic or enigmatic of just plain goofy.

Finding no inkers at Hobby Lobby, I drove over to Office Depot. I searched in vain for rubber stamp stuff and finally gave up and asked a salesperson. He showed me to a dusty little corner full of utilitarian self-inking stamps that say “Rush” or “Receipt” or “Approved,” some insanely overpriced tiny vials of red, black, and blue ink and a handful of pre-inked pads.

As a mainstream office or consumer product, rubber stamps are clearly going the way of sealing wax. (Actually, Hobby Lobby had a surprising inventory of sealing waxes. I can just imagine what kind of hell sealing wax would play with the Postal Service’s automatic sorting machinery, since it struggles to handle Netflix DVD envelopes without shredding them.)

My local postmistress was amused this morning when I presented a rubber stamp festooned package for shipping and I hope the recipients are similarly entertained.

Rubber Stamp AlbumThe Painted BirdBeing There

1 comment:

Rees said...

Totally wild! I would flip for a package like that to arrive in my mailbox! I LOVE to stamp, and now I'm super curious about the book you mentioned, and will be looking for info on it on the internet. Also, I can remember studying the "Dada" art movement as part of an art history class, and thought it was super interesting--so it stands to reason that you would like it! I hope the glycerin treatment works, as that would be excellent future reference for me. Have you tried some of the bigger, more mainstream craft stores for your ink supplies? Think places like "A.C. Moore" and "Michael's", as I believe they both have online ordering options. Can't wait to see what you do next!