Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Scavenger Hunt to Pay Tribute to a Pioneer . . .

If you have been a part of our little traveling minstrel show for a while, you may already know this – but if not, I’m going to fill you with a lot of random images and knowledge with links to find out more.  It seems like spontaneous and random would be the best way to pay homage to a guy who has lived his whole life that way.

Because without him, it’s likely we wouldn’t be doing what we’re doing today.


If you have ever been to a rubber stamp show, I’ll bet you have shopped in this booth . . .

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. . . and had interactions with this man.  But how many of you know that William “Picasso” Gaglione is truly the Father of Rubber Stamping?

It’s a truly fascinating story with words many of you have never heard like “Dada” and “Fluxus” that basically started in the 1960s in New York, moved to San Francisco in the late 60s and then to Chicago around the turn of the century.  Along the way, he created a persona that he called “dadaland” as he became involved in the mail art movement and used his love of collages, drawings and rubber stamps in his creations.

But I can’t tell the story nearly as well as Picasso’s darling wife Darlene Domel can – I did a web search for “Picasso Gaglione” and among other things came up with this great and detailed article that Darlene wrote three years ago about her husband.


After reading Darlene’s essay, I got hooked on trying to find pictures of Picasso from earlier times.  Found a lot on his Facebook page, and others on various blogs and gallery sites.  This was the earliest one I found – he’s the guy in the middle and at the time he was about 25 years old.

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Here are some others that I found – yep, look closely and you’ll recognize him.

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I suspect Picasso’s life really got interesting when he and Darlene intertwined . . .


And they started this place in San Francisco eventually was called (naturally) Stamp Francisco.  And part of it was a Stamp Art Museum – but why should I try to explain it to you when you can get a personal tour?

It’s not always in focus, but the view of Picasso in the 1980s is priceless – and the voice hasn’t changed to this day.  If you’re getting this by e-mail you’ll only see a black box above, but you can click on that box or this link -- – and you’ll be able to watch it.

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Here are some posters I found from some shows that Picasso has done over the years.

And here’s a link to an article from the San Francisco Chronicle about an exhibit at the San Francisco Public Library in the late 90s.

And another from a blog post in 2000 just before Picasso and Darlene moved to Chicago.  If you love history, read them both when you have some time – you’ll get an education.

Once they made it to Chicago around the turn of the century (doesn’t that sound like a long long time ago?), they set up a new company called Stampland and a whole new museum.  And you get to take another tour that was shot in 2009 . . .

Again, you can go to if you get the black box.

And here’s another blog article written about the same time that has pictures of a trip through the world of Stampland.

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Here are two pictures just because I loved them . . .


If you’re in or near St. Petersburg, you can actually see a Picasso Gaglione exhibit that starts September 7.  Here’s an article that Darlene wrote along with information about the exhibit.

I posted this video a while back, but until I scoured the web for information to feed my idea for a blog post, I really didn’t realize how honored my niece should be that four weeks ago she got to participate in a piece of performance art with a true pioneer.

If there is a point in all of this randomness that I have assembled, it is this – sometimes in the hustle and bustle of life, we forget to take a moment to look back along the path that got us to where we are.  At some point, Picasso Gaglione created a fork in his own path and ventured off in a whole new direction.  And because he did, around the world there are people who are indebted to him – even if they don’t know it.

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But now you do.  Thanks, my friends.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

What Keeps a 99-Year-Old Man Busy in Our Backroom . . .

Longtime readers of this blog might be able to find these pictures – they originally appeared here about 2 1/2 years ago . . .

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. . . the first time those dollar packs appeared in our booth.  I took eight boxes of them with me on a trip south, thinking they would last through shows in Atlanta and Clearwater.  The view at right is what was left at 3:00 on Saturday afternoon in Atlanta – they didn’t even make it through the first day.

And as a customer came to the register with a handful of them, I would say “Thanks for keeping a 96-year-old man busy in our backroom.”  The customers who really heard what I was saying were amazed – and some asked for more information.

Walter White is Gary’s father-in-law and he is a fascinating man – a World War II veteran who has lived many places and spent much of his life working as a research chemist for Eastman Kodak in Rochester, New York.  He and his wife came to our area to be closer to their children as his wife’s health was failing, and he started working with us shortly after she died.

Walter’s life is filled with stories, and I got to hear many of them when I drove him back and forth to the store several years ago after Gary tried to see how many bones he could break by falling off his horse.  One of the best stories came 12 or 13 years ago when Walter decided that his eyesight was failing and he needed to stop driving.  So he drove to the store that day, announced to everyone that it was going to be his last day of driving – and rear-ended a car on his way home.  It was the first and only auto accident of his life.

Every year in late July I have to change the dollar pack spiel as Walter gets a year older.  So about a month ago, what was once 96 became 99.


Yesterday afternoon, I brought the truck to the store to unload some boxes after last weekend’s show in Collinsville, Illinois.  And when I walked through the backroom, Walter was hard at work.  He doesn’t get here as much as he did a few years ago – maybe a couple of hours two or three times a week.  But he’s still amazed that so many of you find treasure in the little bags of paper that he creates.

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He has his two tables full of little scraps of paper, cellophane bags to stuff, and boxes next to the tables to fill with finished bags to fill those plastic tubs at shows.  And if there’s an afternoon baseball game on the radio, he’ll have earbuds in his ears – Walter loves baseball as much as I do.

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Twice last weekend, customers came to me with dollar packs in their hands to ask if the price on them was correct – in one case a pack was marked $10.05 and in another case it was $0.05.  Of course, they were all $1.00 – and when I explained that Walter is 99 and doesn’t see very well anymore, everyone seems to understand.

Walter is the first 99-year-old man I have ever known.  On his 98th birthday last year, he announced to his family that there wouldn’t be a 99th – he knew that his health is not what it once was and body parts are wearing out.  But he was wrong, and he’s still here – and I really hope that at the end of July next year, he will become the first 100-year-old man I have ever known.

And I’ll have to change the spiel again . . .

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Will Work for Food . . .

I am not a foodie – I think I have made that quite clear over the years.  Zoe is – I think I have also made that quite clear over the years.  As such, from time to time I am greeted at shows by customers bearing gifts of food – for my dog.  But last weekend, in the shadow of the Gateway Arch, the scene was different . . .


Sally Holcomb was one of the first people I saw when the show opened on Saturday morning – she brought a container filled with snickerdoodles and chocolate cookies for me!  That container kept Doreen and me energized most of the day.

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Ah yes – Doreen.  Hard to believe, but it has been ten years since Doreen Chambers brought this cake to Collinsville for us.  The year before, she had helped in our booth for the first time and told us of her baking talents.  So in 2003, she brought proof.


Ten years later, she’s still feeding me – chocolate cupcakes this time!

Of course, I needed more calories – I played a lot of golf this weekend.  After setup on Friday, I drove a short distance to Gateway National Golf Links for an evening of activity.  I had found it online and it looked interesting.  And it was – the course was in great shape and had a view unlike any other . . .


From many parts of the course, you could see downtown St. Louis and the Gateway Arch.  I played until it was almost too dark to see – which provided an added bonus . . .

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. . . the moon on the left and a gorgeous sunset on the right.  Enjoyed it enough that after the show on Saturday, I went back again.


And got another sunset – but this one wasn’t nearly as spectacular as the one the night before.

But I digress . . .

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Our booth was full of busy little beavers.  Beth Wilkinson was filling in for Sue Rothamel’s talented fingers in the USArtQuest portion of our booth, and Doreen was showing folks Envelope Punch Boards and Perfect Rulers and Perfect Layers and Gelato Kits – every time I turned around, she had moved to a new subject.


One lady brought her own “pack mule” sporting this on his back – I couldn’t decide whether she had bought his t-shirt or he had figured it out on his own . . .


Just like teachers when you were in school – they don’t eat and they don’t go to the bathroom.  So imagine my surprise when I turned around and noticed that Nancy and Brian from Rubber Stamp Events had found time for a break.  Brian is the “voice” of Barbara’s shows – it just isn’t the same when he’s not the one handling the microphone.

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One … two … three … awwwwwwwwww.  This “crafter in training” (or maybe he’s a “pack mule in training”) was parked near my cash register on Sunday while Mom was catching Beth’s demo and Grandma was watching Doreen’s.  He never stirred – found out later that Big Brother was already a veteran of two years’ worth of shows, but Mom and Grandma realized last year that he (or they) didn’t have the patience for another trek.  So Mom went forth and multiplied and brought a replacement.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Thankfully, The Winner Was Not Present . . .

One last tidbit from Stampaway – again from the giveaway.  It’s funnier if you watch it in real time . . .

Again, if for some reason the video doesn’t show up in the box above, you can watch it by clicking on this link --

Look for more stories from a different location soon – this weekend, we’ll be in the shadow of the Gateway Arch in Collinsville, Illinois!

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A Request from Me . . .

I hear it all the time . . . at shows, when I’m in the store, in my e-mail inbox -- “I just love your blog.”  And I am simply humbled every time I hear it.  So many of you have embraced our company . . . and our families.  Thank you – it means a lot.

I have noticed, especially at shows, that a significant portion of the customers in our booth are there for the first time.  That’s fantastic -- “new blood” is the future of any business.  We need more of it – and to quote the old saying, “Word of Mouth is the best advertising.”

So if you like the blog, would you do me a favor and please encourage your friends and online acquaintances to read it and subscribe?  And if someone you know is looking for a source for cardstock, envelopes, accessories, etc., please recommend us.

Honestly, we’ll do everything we can from our end, but a little assistance from you helps keep our paychecks coming – and keeps these stories, travelogues, specials and more coming your way.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Stampaway, Meet My Parents . . .

I thought about asking my parents to come to Stampaway last year so I could introduce them during the giveaway – and thank everyone who was so supportive of Mom during her bout with cancer.  But Mom has never liked being the center of attention so I decided to keep her out of the spotlight.  Then I mentioned it to her when I picked her up for church the next day – and she said “I would have done that.”  I gave her a “Do I know you?” look and filed that in my memory for this year.

So Saturday, they came – the giveaway was about 4:30 and they arrived about 4:00 and walked through the convention.  Mom was already tearing up by the time they found our booth – several customers had already recognized them and were just as kind as I knew they would be.

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Giveaway Time came, and I started by introducing Mom and Dad.  The introduction was intended for all of you who have become part of our lives – Cincinnati was just the place where it was convenient for them.  These are screen shots from cell phone video that I had Keia shoot for me – Dad is easy to see waving a paper in the air, but Mom was in seclusion behind The Dauber Sisters until she stepped forward.  But you can see for yourself – after spending quite a while learning how to cut the section that I needed out of a longer video, here it is . . .

Apparently, some people see nothing but a black box in the space above this – I’m told that if you click in the black box the video may play anyway.  But if it doesn’t, you can see it by going to

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Afterward, several customers went over to meet them in person.  My parents were truly touched by your kindness – thanks.

The Morning After . . .

The Stampaway Friday Night Preview Party is a lot of fun – especially for the customers.  The smaller crowd gives them an easier shopping experience, and time to enjoy the demos, make & takes, and such.  But it’s a long day for the vendors – most of us started setting up our booths at 8:00 a.m., so by the time the Preview Party ends at 11:00 p.m. we’re pretty much fried.


I saw this on a poster during setup and liked it – it was in the Verses booth and I was delivering some of their gridwall.  We carry booth materials for several vendors in our truck so they can fly back and forth to shows.  I suspect that my life is vanilla enough that most of the time I can get by with eight crayons – only occasionally do I need a few more.  But some of you need the big box of 64 with the sharpener in the back!

I like to refer to Stampaway as the “I get to sleep in my own bed show” – I only live 40 minutes from the convention center.  But it always seems to take me longer to get there – when we’re on the road, if something is missing from the booth we just have to deal with it.  But here at home, if something is missing I head for the store late at night.  And something is always missing – so it was about 12:45 when I finally put the key in the deadbolt at home.  And I left for Sharonville at 7:15 Saturday morning – the only living being who saw me while I was at home was Zoe.


But even with the fatigue, it’s easy to get back into gear when the line is wrapped around the building at 8:45 . . .


I always get a kick out of this – it’s in the Rubber Cottage booth next to their cash register.  Since they were across the aisle from us this weekend, I got a chance to take a picture of it.

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These were taped to warming units on the loading dock behind the concession stand – with the rants I have made over the years about thanking customers and appreciating our jobs, it was nice to see someone else put it into words.


I got a big kick out of this – instead of printing out her e-mail to get the $2.00 discount in our booth, she printed out the picture from a recent e-mail of me holding Ryan when he was born 25 years ago.  Loved it . . .


Finally got to meet Janet Winkle – she has taught Stampscapes classes in our store several times and we have e-mailed back and forth a lot, but I was always either out of town or busy when she was here, so we had never met in person.  I’ll see her again in October when we go to a new show in Sevierville, Tennessee – she lives there.


Did you see this in the Northwoods booth?  Pat and Paul’s daughters were just kids when we first met – now Emily and her husband Kyle have a newborn son, and Liz and her husband Matt are expecting a daughter any day.  Liz’ doctor assured Pat that she could get to Stampaway and home before Liz went into labor – but Pat flew home on Saturday night anyway.

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Two t-shirts that caught my eye.  I know there are three in these pictures – I have seen the pink one everywhere.  But not with the companion shirt.  And FDR was right during WWII . . . but apparently he left off the last part.

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Connie Williams was out visiting in the booths and taking pictures – I didn’t realize she was using a flash until she just about blinded me while I was shooting a picture of her shooting a picture . . .


We had a lot of action in our booth as well.  Joe Rotella was manning the USArtQuest portion – Robin and Keia Arnold were handling Envelope Punch Boards and the new Faber-Castell Gelato Kits.  Not sure how much longer we’ll have Keia working with us – she was about ten years old when she and her mom first started helping us, but she recently graduated from Indiana Wesleyan and hopes to eventually land a teaching job in the mountains of North Carolina.

Looks like the Stampaway stories may stretch out for another day – I have some editing to do on a couple of special pieces to include with another story, and it doesn’t look like they will finish before 3:00 EDT when the blog post e-mail goes out.  So stop back tomorrow . . .