Friday, March 20, 2009


I just went to Stamp Camp. For those who may be unfamiliar, Stamp Camp is kind of like a club where a group of women get together and assemble pre-arranged craft projects using the products from a company called "Stampin Up." I don't actually belong to this club but I occasionally get invited to these events and since there's friends and wine and snacks there, I go.

Stacey is the Camp Director. Stampin Up is her home-based business. She provides the tools and materials for the projects at Camp, and also sells them for personal use through a catalog.

For the camp she will have an example of a fabulous project displayed on the table, and then all of the individual pieces and tools laid out. It is the camper's task to reverse-engineer the example and recreate the project for themselves. This is way more difficult than you would think, at least for me. One false assumption and...BAM, you've ruined it. Punch that circle too close to the edge and, curses! you've destroyed the opportunity to punch around it a second time to get that scalloped ring. It's the challenge aspect that brings a sense of adventure to the whole thing. Fortunately for me, Stacey is a person with a kind and helpful spirit and will come along and set me straight before letting the entire project go horribly, irreversibly wrong.

Here are the projects we did last night:

A Birthday Card:

Notice the ribbon, the layering of papers, and the light images of the lemon the the green paper. It was made with a magical substance called versa-mark. It works kind of like invisible ink in reverse. The lacy scallop along the bottom edge was made with a punch (which is what I ordered for my purchase of the night.) Best of all is the yellow lemon. You can't tell from the picture but it is raised above the paper, and if you rub at it a's scented! This miracle of crafting technology was achieved by first double dipping the stamp onto two different pads of ink, and then going over to a station that Stacey had set up where you pour a special powder over the stamped image, shake it off, and then blast it with a heating tool that reminds me of something that might be used to weld together steel I-beams for a building foundation.

Next, we made these nifty gifty water-bottle bibs that hold individual kool-aid flavor packets. (Could this possibly be the origin of the phrase "They drank the kool-aid" that people keep saying these days? I dunno.) Notice the little round circles that are holding the pocket together. They are metal brads that are flattened with yet another industrial looking tool that works in the same way as a hand-powered riveter. According to Stacey, this would make a nice little gift or party favor for a special occasion.

The third project was this popsicle themed object that could be used as a card or a party invitation:

The strawberry was made in a multi-step process where you paint the three colors onto the stamp, and then dab on this fast-hardening plastic to give the chocolate dipped part a realistic 3D effect.

There were probably between fifteen and twenty steps involved in making this remarkable object, depending on how you count them. That's about average. There was another time I went to one of these where we made a thank you card that included as many steps PLUS several more where you had to apply layer after layer of a glaze, blast it with the heat gun, sprinkle sparkles on, put it in the freezer, and repeat as you gently twist the paper, all to get a nice crackly effect. After all of that it would take an awful lot for me to want to part with that card just for someone to glance at for a moment and then throw away. I still have it. I'm waiting for someone to do something incredible enough for me to want to thank them with that card. I can't even imagine what it could be. "Thank you for donating me your kidney." Maybe.

The way that these projects take my usual "get it done efficiently as possible" way of thinking and turn it upside down just blows my mind. In engineering you are always considering how to do something in less steps, faster, cheaper, better. This kind of crafting is the opposite. Contrary to the digital age it is about using your imagination, hands, and tools, to create something that is one-of-kind unique that you can look at, hold, feel, even smell and appreciate the thought and effort that went into making it. It's a kind of an art, and an expression of beauty, that I find awesome to appreciate.

And of course the friends, wine and snacks!


Heather Leigh said...

I NEVER throw away handmade cards that get sent to me! :)

Loved reading your post about all the projects.

Sometime before 2010, I'll post the pictures of the friends, wine, & snacks!!

Angspar said...

That's always been my beef with handmade cards! Most people look at a card, say 'How nice' and then off to the garbage.

I actually loved the ice cream invitation, tho.