Tuesday, November 17, 2009

going under

Well, I planned to start posting regularly again, but that didn't work out too well. I can't even say it's because I've been busy. I have been, but not any more so than usual. I've just been really depressed. Stressed about money and my dog training business. I only had two jobs the whole month of October and nothing booked this month at all. The phone isn't ringing. I've only had two inquiries in the past 3 weeks and both are being wishy-washy, so I don't hold much hope of them booking. Yesterday Jim and I went out to visit the vets in my area. Most of them say they refer people to me all the time. I think people are so stretched for money right now that they don't even want to call for pricing. They can't afford anything, so they don't even bother asking. It's killing me. I actually want to sell the business, but the catch-22 is no one will buy a business that's not making money. And if it was making money, I probably wouldn't want to sell it. Not a good position to be in.
The Etsy shop is doing pretty well, and I've managed to finally figure out how to use my polymer stamp machine the correct way (using a negative print of whatever image I want to make a stamp of). Yeah, the mold making method didn't pan out very well. I tried different materials for making the mold but could never get it quite right. I finally started doing a lot of reading on the net and saw a few things that made me think perhaps the instructions that came with the machine are having me over-expose the polymer, thus losing all the details. So I messed around with exposure times and holy smoke, made a stamp!! So..my hope is that soon I can offer less expensive polymer stamp versions of my hand carved stamps. Hopefully they'll sell well, and I can make them quickly, and my Etsy business will grow to make up for the lost income of the dog training business.
I think the meds I've used for years (I have bipolar disorder) have finally stopped working. I've been going into major tailspins over relatively minor things for a week or two now. I'm also having trouble turning my brain off at night, and tend to lie awake for hours with thoughts racing uncontrollably, paired with really horrible images sometimes. Not fun. I might have to break down and try a new medication. I HATE doing that. Dealing with side effects, waiting to see if it's working, moving on to another one if that one doesn't work. It's a nightmare. But if this medication isn't working anymore, my life will be a nightmare anyway, so I don't have much of a choice.
So...yeah. Today I'm stressed because I have a lot of carving to catch up on, but want time to master the polymer stamp making so I can start listing those before the holidays. Guess I need to get myself caught up and then perhaps close the shop for a day or two while I get some stamps made.
Better get to work!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

If at first you don't succeed..do it a different way!

So..several months ago I purchased a stamp-making kit. It allows you to make clear acrylic stamps using photopolymer and a negative of your artwork. It sounded so simple. You just photograph the artwork, then use the computer to "flip" it to make a negative image. You then print that with a laserjet onto a transparent sheet. Then you use damming tape around the image, pour the photopolymer over it, expose it to uv light and poof! acrylic stamp.
Well...turns out it's not so simple. Is anything? First, the dark areas of your image have to be totally black or the stamp won't develop. When you print on a transparency it just doesn't come out totally black. So someone suggested making two copies and laying them over each other. I guess a lot of polymer stamp makers do that. I tried, it didn't work. After many frustrating, gooey attemps, I gave up.
So today I was looking at my long carving list and thinking once again that I really need to find a way to offer manufactured versions of my stamps. I mentioned it on Facebook and one of my friends said I should make a mold and melt down my carving material and pour it into the mold.
This got me thinking. I don't think the carving material I use will melt...but what about making a mold and using the photopolymer? So I did! I took polymer clay, pressed one of my stamps into it, baked it - mold! Then I poured the polymer into the mold and let it "bake" under the uv light. And lo and behold, a polymer stamp was born! I'll definitely have to tweak the process a bit, improve the quality of the mold. This first stamp is not perfect, but it's a polymer stamp. Above is a picture of the original stamp, the polymer clay mold, the polymer stamp (which is actually clear but is backed with a red rubber cushion and mounted on wood), and an impression made with it.
I'm not sure how practical this method is..but really, once I got the molds made, it wouldn't take long to produce the stamps. Much less time than it takes to carve them. I don't want to give up carving entirely, but it'd be nice to be able to offer a less-expensive choice in my shop, and be able to make it quickly!
That said, I still have a long carving list and spent most of my day messing with this polymer process, so I better get to work!

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Come visit my virtual convention booth at Rubberstampchat.net! If you link to my shop through that website, you can participate in the "buy two stamps, get the third one free" convention special. You will also be able to visit lots of other great booths, so if you're into rubber stamps, this is something you shouldn't miss!

About Me

Hippieville, CA, United States
This is the story of life after losing the "real" job and the house, trying to find the middle ground between making a living and actually living.