Sunday, June 28, 2009

Standing Room Only at the Make It/Take It . . .

I have never seen a crowd like we had at the Make It and Take It in our store last Wednesday. Leslie Rogers presented the project, and she said there were 28 people already waiting when she arrived at 8:30 -- for a project that started at 9:00!

This was the view in the classroom when I arrived about 10:30 to load the truck for our trip to Orlando. I was shocked -- by 10:30, there are usually only a handful of people left. I'm told this was at least the third wave . . .

Notice the little girl being seated at the extra card table? So did I . . .

This is Sophia Ellen (I asked -- she is very good at saying her name!), and she and her mom were first-timers at the Make & Take. I noticed the stuffed animals right away and told her that her puppies were taking the place of mine.

Soon she and Mom were hard at work!

This was the project that they were making -- Sophia Ellen's mom saw it on our website, and that's what enticed her to make the trip.

But we had a couple of people who took the project one step farther . . .

Judi and Cassandra Brooks were still going strong at 11:30, having a ball while they added extra layers and embellishments. I just had to shoot pictures of their finished projects.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

One of the Few Advantages of Driving a Big Truck . . .

When we do shows, our truck is more than just a way to get the booth to the show location. It's also my way to get around once setup is done. That can present problems -- especially parking problems. But not at Disney World. Last night, I took advantage of a friend's generosity and went out to Disney's Hollywood Studios for an evening on my own.

And this is the view from my parking space. Cost $12.00, but I got to park with the buses right next to the main entrance. You'll note the Disney bus in the background of the first photo, and the top of Mickey's sorcerer hat in the background of the second. Can't beat it . . .

Side note to the Orlando crowd on Saturday -- thanks to those of you who braved the heat INSIDE the building at the Radisson WorldGate Resort in Kissimmee. There was simply no excuse -- the hotel's convention manager stood face-to-face with me in the convention hall and had the audacity to tell me it wasn't warm, while our customers were dripping behind me. I will be sending letters to both the hotel manager and Radisson corporate, and will post any response I receive. You deserve better treatment.

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Random Act of Kindness by a Guardian Angel . . .

I can be an old-fashioned grump at times (ask my family), and this morning was one of those times. My day always starts with a newspaper while I'm eating breakfast. On days when the paper is late, Greg is not a happy boy. At home, my "paperboy" was once the high school basketball coach (and I was his statistician) -- he knows, and my paper is always there about 5:00 a.m.

I'm in Orlando for a show this weekend (so come out and see us if you are, too!). Many hotels put a paper in front of your door, or at least have a stack at the front desk. Not this one -- I was told that papers were at the gift shop. But the gift shop wasn't open 20 minutes past the posted opening time. I walked back out of the hotel restaurant as the clerk arrived, and she told me the papers arrive "in the morning" and weren't there yet. I walked away, grumbling something about it already being morning . . .

That's where Darlene Clark enters the story -- she had greeted me when I entered the restaurant, and must have been out on the lobby when I went into "old grump mode". She also must have been out there when the papers arrived, because a few minutes later she appeared at my table with a smile and a copy of the Orlando Sentinel -- and wouldn't even let me give her back the dollar she paid for it. She absolutely made my morning.

Darlene was in the lobby when I came out later so I shot a quick picture and thanked her again. She is on our e-mail list -- I have said for years that our customers are the nicest folks. This just proves it.

Thanks again, Darlene!

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Dog's Life Revisited . . .

Most of you know that my dog Zoe loves our store. She was trained there when she was a puppy -- it was a central location for the trainer and me to meet, and gave Zoe a chance to get used to being around people. So she is very comfortable there.

I usually take her to work on Saturdays, and that often includes a stop by the store. But I have been at shows the past two weekends, so Zoe was ready to rock by the time we got there. The first lady she saw had been asking me to bring Zoe on Wednesdays so she could meet her. I wish I had thought to drag out the camera, because I'm not sure which of them was more excited.

Then Zoe found a little girl -- and oh, how she loves children. They played for several minutes and I showed her where Zoe likes to be scratched before I had to go up front to shoot some pictures. It wasn't long before she wandered up to see her new friend again . . .

This time I had the camera out. After I shot this picture, I had to move around to see the view from another angle.

When Zoe puts her paw on you like that, it means "Please, don't stop . . ."

Monday, June 15, 2009

Rubber Stamp Shows 101

I love doing shows -- any of you who have seen me at one probably already know that. And I enjoy visiting with people who come into our booth. On Saturdays, that "visit" is usually no more than "Hello, how are you?" and "Thanks for coming!" On Sundays, the conversations can be more in-depth.

For those of you who are new to the experience, here's why . . .

This is the view looking down the aisle from my cash register at 1:00 Saturday at last weekend's Gateway Rubber Stamp Getaway in Collinsville, Illinois (near St. Louis).

This is the same view at 1:00 Sunday -- notice a difference?

I see people at every show who are looking for help with a special project or have physical limitations that make it hard to get around, and they're frustrated with the crowd and can't get the attention they need on Saturday. I know why you want to be there as soon as the show opens -- it's fresh and exciting, the customers (and the vendors) are pumped up, and the shelves are fully stocked. And it's fun -- believe me, I love it when it's crowded.

But Sunday is a great visiting day -- there aren't as many customers, and you can take your time wandering through the booths without bumping into someone every few feet. And we have time to take five or ten minutes (and sometimes more) to give you special attention.

Those of you who like to come both days already know this. But if you can only come one day, it might help your experience if you keep that in mind.
Of course, now it's Monday after a weekend show and I'm home cleaning up a few loose ends (like posting to this blog) before I go out to mow the grass. And my view is a little different . . .

Zoe has stayed pretty close to me ever since I got home . . .

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Everybody Let's Pose . . .

Last weekend we made our yearly visit to Springfield, Massachusetts. This show is a big enough deal each year -- all of New England comes out -- that Susan Pickering Rothamel from USArtQuest and Tim Hammonds from Scor-It both asked us if we could arrange for demo space in our booth (translation -- they paid their own way). So we had our usual 30-foot booth, with 10-foot demo spaces on each end. What a great setup (I couldn't get it all in one picture) -- and what a great turnout! The customers said they loved it, and so did we -- we're gonna do the same thing in Novi, Michigan the first weekend in August.

I have noticed over time that the "heavy hitters" in the demo world have great formal poses. If you tell them you're going to take a picture, you get the same look every time.

Here are Sue and Tim at their respective demo spaces when they knew the camera was there. But I prefer the stealth method when I can . . .

If you shoot enough of them, the best shots are almost as good as formal poses.

And the group shots are even better . . .

I was a little slow at the shutter on this one -- Sue had just found out that a lady at her demo table was celebrating her birthday at the show, and led the others in a rousing singing of "Happy Birthday".

By contrast, no one ever gets formal shots of Karen and me, unless we're in costume for the Stampaway Preview Party in Cincinnati (and anyone who has seen us there knows that's hardly formal!).

And I learned something about our customers -- we had a massive turnout for the giveaway on Saturday. So I decided to shoot pictures to try to catch all of them (it took three).

This was the view to my left -- I stopped in the middle of the giveaway and picked up my camera. A few people in the back seemed to know what was going on.

This is what happened with the middle and right views when I added a simple phrase -- "Yes, you can say hi!"

Our booth will be in Collinsville, Illinois, this weekend -- come out and see us at the Gateway Center Saturday and Sunday!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Another Assist for Connie Vogt . . .

I have to admit that I love it when people go out of their way to make my job easier. Connie Vogt did the Make It/Take It in our store on Wednesday, and she knew that I was scrambling to get everything done so I could load the truck and head out for the Springfield, MA show this weekend. So she sent me pictures and step-by-step instructions -- in advance!

With apologies to Jackie Gleason, "And awaaay we go . . ."

Here's where we're going to end up, to give you a little incentive to come along for the ride.

And here's what you'll need to get there:


5½” x 8½” cardstock – Wausau Astroparche Parchment – Shell pink
4” x 5¼” cardstock – Kromekote – white glossy
2¾” x 3¼” cardstock – Kaleida-Paper – dark red (80#)
2-1/2” x 3” cardstock – Cougar Opaque – natural (80#)
¾” x 5½” cardstock – Stardream - antique gold

Stamps used:

- Stampers Anonymous – Mona’s sketchbook (CMS 010)
- Stampers Anonymous – “Breathe” (K1-637)

Other supplies that will be used:

- Marvy reinkers and ink pads - #2 red, #5 yellow and #7 orange
- Ranger dye ink pad – espresso
- PearlEx – interference red
- Gold webbing spray
- Mini mister bottles
- Sponges and sponge tip applicators
- Crimper

Mix a few drops of yellow dye reinker in a mister bottle and fill with water. Prepare two additional misters – one filled with orange and one filled with red ink.

Spritz the glossy cardstock with yellow, orange and red misters. Dab with sponge or paper towel to create texture and absorb excess moisture.

Add touches of Pearl Ex for highlights if desired while cardstock is still slightly damp.

Spray lightly with webbing spray to create veining. When dry, adhere to card front.

Crimp gold strip, trim if necessary and adhere to left side of card front.

Stamp “Breathe” with espresso ink. Add highlights with red, orange and yellow ink using sponge daubers. Mat with dark red cardstock and adhere to card front with foam tape.

Stamp verse inside of card using espresso ink.

Finished product!

And here's proof that Connie gets the assist here -- I had to go back into the archives and find a picture I took of her at a previous make it/take it. Thanks!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

It's Like This Every May . . .

Some of you will notice that it has been almost a week since I last rambled incoherently (of course, others have enjoyed the silence) . . .

As soon as I finish this, I will go into New England Mode. This weekend is one of the biggest shows of the year -- we'll be at the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, Massachusetts (in my neck of the woods, we call it a "Fairgrounds" -- in their neck of the woods, they call it "The Big E"). I have lots to do before the truck pulls out at the end of the day Wednesday. We'll have three demos in the booth this weekend -- Susan Pickering Rothamel from USArtQuest, Tim Hammonds from Scor-It, and our own Melinda Doster. And Tim is going to be doing a free make it & take it at his end of the booth all weekend long. You just have to see the gathering at the entrance just before the show opens -- the promoter lets everyone spread out just inside the building and at 10:00 it's like someone pulled the plug out of the drain as everyone streams up the aisles. I always look forward to it.

I would like to have gone into New England Mode earlier, but it has been a hectic few days. We still have a small print shop (that's where we came from) and I spent from Thursday morning until a few minutes ago setting up a recital program for the dance studio next door. I missed a gorgeous weekend while I worked at my dining room table. It really shouldn't take this long, and if I wasn't an old dinosaur from the pre-computer age it probably wouldn't. But I did the best I could and now it's out of my hands.

And today my dad went in for a stress test. He started having chest pains the weekend before last -- he knows what to watch for, since he has had two catheterizations before. We didn't expect him to do well, but he passed the stress test with no pains. So the tests continue, and it will be a few days before we know what comes next. In the midst of all this, my brother and I looked at each other and were thankful that this didn't come on while we were down in the Grand Canyon seven weeks ago!

Stay tuned for pictures and fun from Springfield -- or better yet, come out and see it for yourself!