Oct 272010

Our Rock Star Spotlight series has been a big hit and a lot of fun. We got a chance to get to learn some interesting facts about all of the talented stampers (aka Repeat’s Rock Stars) who share their wonderful card creations with us here every week. Then last time, by reader request, I spotlighted myself… the artist who creates all the images that become our stamp designs. Now this week, by Rock Star request, we are shining the spotlight on my husband, Bill, the craftsman who turns my designs into stamps for all of you.

Bill Welsh

1. Tell us a little about your family. My wife and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary this past summer. We have two cats for “sons” and I also have a daughter from my previous life. She is a nurse and lives in Florida.

2. How did you get into stamping? I got into the stamping business after I had to retire from my previous job due to several herniated discs in my neck. My mother-in-law’s new hobby at that time inspired us to start Repeat Impressions. If you missed it earlier you can read the story of how we came to be by following this link.

3. What is your favorite technique? Using the scroll saw to cut out all the rubber dies.

4. What is your favorite tool? Our big vulcanizer

5. What is your favorite color combo? That’s simple… black ink on wood.

6. If you had to describe your stamping style with 3 words, what would they be? Down and dirty!

7. Do you always send the cards you create? No card creating for me… I leave that to the experts.

8. What is your favorite stamping magazine? Vamp Stamp News was the first magazine we ever advertised in. I still look forward to checking it out every month.

9. What are your favorite Repeat Impressions’ designs? There are many but if I had to choose I would say our #1704-P Great Blue Heron, #708-K Rebecca, the lighthouse stamps and really all the ones that index well and make my job easier. 😉

10. What are your other interests besides stamping? Watching football, trying new micro brews, driving my John Deere tractor, hunting, camping, reading, travel and trying new things.

11. Name your favorite food and one food you can’t stand. I love to eat and pretty much like ALL kinds of foods. But I can never pass up the Argentinian beef at El Gaucho Steakhouse when we visit Aruba. We don’t eat a lot of red meat at home so this is a real treat. The only food I really can’t stand… tuna casserole!

12. What is your guilty pleasure? Buying new hats. And this drives my wife crazy! She’s always pointing out that I only have one head so why do I need 200 hats. I just can’t help myself. I like to collect baseball style hats from all the different places we visit.

13. Do you have any pet peeves? People who do all kinds of stupid things when they are driving instead of focusing on the road.

14. Tell us one random thing people may not know about you. I enjoy making bread the old fashioned way with my hands… no bread machines in this house. I usually bake a dozen or so different kinds of loaves on Christmas Eve… and the relatives have been known to fight over the leftover loaves after dinner the next day. :-)

15. Name 3 things on your “bucket list”. Take my wife to Alaska and also visit Ireland where I’ll drink real Guinness in a real Irish pub.

16. If you were going to be stuck on a deserted island, which 5 books, movies, people and foods would you take along?

Books: Any of the Alex Cross books by James Patterson and anything by Dean Koontz, John Grisham or Tom Clancy .

Movies: Dirty Harry, The Shawshank Redemption, The Longest Yard, The Man From Snowy River and Beverly Hills Cop.

People: My wife, and… do I really have to bring any more people? Then it would no longer be a deserted island!

Foods: Lobster, steak, cheese, olives and beer! (Good thing my wife had all the vegetables on her list!)

17. If you have to choose a movie title for your life story, what would that be? Well considering all the time we spend on the road traveling to stamp shows, how about… Driving Miss Wendy 😉

Now I have to admit… I had a lot of fun working on this post! Of course, getting Bill to sit still long enough to answer all of these questions took a bit of doing, but I think it was worth it in the end. Thanks, sweetie, for playing along with us! I hope you all enjoyed it too. And if you missed it previously and would like a virtual tour of how our stamps are made you can learn all about it by following this link.

Thanks for stopping by today and spending some time with us!
So how are those cards coming for our latest Sketch Challenge? 😉


Oct 132010

If you read my post the Wednesday before last you may recall that I was a little disappointed to have completed our Rock Star Spotlight interview series. What fun that was getting to know all our Rock Stars a little better! What to do next? Hmmm. I gave it some thought and came up with an idea or two. And then I read my email… It seems a few of you thought it was time to hear MY answers to all those questions. So although I don’t consider myself a Rock Star of the same caliber as my very talented team, I suppose it IS only fair that I subject myself to the same questioning. So here you go…

Wendy Wyman

1. Tell us a little about your family. My husband Bill and I have been together for 27 years and celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary this summer. We currently have two “sons” of the feline persuasion.

2. How did you get into stamping? I got into the stamping business thanks to my mother. One of my earliest blog posts tells the whole tale. If you missed the story just follow this link to read all about how Repeat Impressions got it’s start.

3. What is your favorite technique? I’m not really technique oriented, but I do like to color!

4. What is your favorite tool? Punches

5. What are your favorite embellishments? Ribbon and rhinestones

6. What is your favorite coloring method? Simple markers or colored pencils

7. What is your favorite color combo? I’ve always thought green and purple make a great combination. Actually, I like most anything with green… it’s my favorite color!

8. If you had to describe your stamping style with 3 words, what would they be? Simple with motion. I really don’t have much time to stamp but when I do I tend to make things that move or have a little element of surprise involved. Like my lines of designs and cards stocks for cards that flip, swing, spin or pop up.

9. Do you always send the cards you create? Yes, unless they are for our display boards.

10. For which occasion or holiday do you create the most cards? Christmas and birthdays.

11. What is your favorite stamping magazine? I don’t have much time for magazines but I like Vamp Stamp News for all the tips and techniques shared there.

12. What are your favorite Repeat Impressions’ designs? That’s like asking a mother to choose her favorite child! 😉 There are many, but off the top of my head I would say my Little Birdie/Cat swing stamp set, Great Blue Heron and Santa Cat.

13. What are your other interests besides stamping? Reading, kitties, family time, great food and wine, comedy in any form, Scrabble on Facebook. Oh… and spending entirely too much time researching things online!

14. Name your favorite food and one food you can’t stand. That’s a tough one! I love so many foods, but I can never pass up guacamole! And I can’t stand olives of any kind.

15. What is your guilty pleasure? Pizza or any dessert served a la mode!

16. Do you have any pet peeves? Incompetence really irks me.

17. Tell us one random thing people may not know about you. I’ve always wanted to write a book. I feel like I may have a novel in me somewhere if I only had the time. I self-published a small run of books of my mother’s poetry years ago. Maybe someday I’ll see my own name embossed on a hardcover. :-)

18. Name 3 things on your “bucket list”. To visit Alaska, swim with a dolphin, learn to tango.

19. If you were going to be stuck on a deserted island, which 5 books, movies, people and foods would you take along?

Books: A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, Chesapeake by James Michener, A Woman of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford, and any book by James Patterson or Tess Gerritson.

Movies: True Lies (my perfect movie trifecta… comedy, action and romance all in one movie!), Nothing To Lose, Despicable Me, The Man From Snowy River and Miracle on 34th Street (I’m partial to the one with Sebastian Cabot).

People: My husband, my sister, my two nieces and Jeff Dunham to keep us all entertained!

Foods: Sweet potatoes, broccoli, avocados, tomatoes and carrot cake. Yeah… you might say I have a thing for veggies!

20. If you have to choose a movie title for your life story, what would that be? Lucky Me!

There you go… I think I have fulfilled my obligation now. :-)
Thank you for stopping by for a visit!


P.S. Just a friendly reminder. Submissions to our latest Sketch Challenge are being accepted until 10/19. Follow this link for all the details!

Jul 272010

Ok, so today’s post is a little off topic… well, maybe a lot! Bill and I will be celebrating our 20th Wedding Anniversary tomorrow, but tomorrow also happens to be WHAT IF? Wednesday so I thought I’d post this a day early. This has nothing to do with stamping of course, but I think it may make for some fun reading anyway.

If you have been following me since my first blog post, you may recall my story about The House That Stamps Built and how we came to be. You may also recall that much of this we “blame” on my mother. 😉 In addition to her love of stamping, my Mom also had a passion for writing. She had a real way with words… she could write some wonderful poetry, weave great stories and also tell you jokes that could make you wet your pants! My mom wrote this poem/story shown below as a wedding gift to Bill and I twenty years ago. I like to dig it out every few years and revisit it on my anniversary. Today I thought I’d share it with all of you. It’s rather long, but I hope you’ll bear with me.

Wendy’s Wedding

In my mind I have stories I’d like to relate;
Of events all pertaining to July twenty-eight,
In the year of Our Lord, nineteen hundred and ninety.
If recorded on paper it will help to remind me,
Of the doubts and the mishaps, the fun and the thrill,
In preparing the wedding of Wendy to Bill.

On a Sunday in April I was told of the plan.
That’s when my troubles, my joys all began.
By the end of that week many things had been done.
Time and place were decided, preparations begun.
The minister, church, and musician agreed.
The caterer’s hired. We’re picking up speed.
I’ve purchased the napkins, the cups and each plate;
Always reminding myself of the date.
Invitations are printed. We’ve ordered the flowers.
It seems that the days just don’t have enough hours.

Bride to-be lives in Portland, so the next time in town;
We’re off on a search for that “just perfect” gown.
A miracle’s happened, everybody agrees;
When the bride comes back home with the first gown she sees.
Fit and color are perfect, it’s the gown of her dreams.
Everything’s right on target, or at least so it seems.

Well, we’ve hit our first snag; Our first problems arise,
When a dress for the bridesmaid can’t be found in her size.
Many stores have been called, they all answer the same;
“We’ve no two gowns alike,” Now I hate to complain,
But why can’t they carry gowns alike – different sizes?
They sales they could make could hold many surprises.

Hallelujah! Amen! Praise the Lord for He blesses!
I’ve just found a new store, we can order the dresses.
Oh, and that isn’t all, there is more I must tell,
We can order men’s tuxes at this new store as well.

Now we’ve just made the plans for her first bridal shower.
On the thirtieth of June, three o’clock is the hour.
She’s a dentist appointment, meets the pastor as well;
The girl’s getting nervous that’s easy to tell.
But the shower turns out as a total surprise.
All the people and gifts sure put joy in her eyes.

We have a new roof. We have a new deck.
The fireplace mended; everyone is a wreck.
Our porch has been painted. Wicker furniture’s sprayed.
We’ve new cushions and covers, have we got it made!?
Oh boy – we’ve got problems! It seems havoc wreaks.
It’s raining like crazy! Guess what – the roof leaks!

Out comes the tar bucket, some shingles and nails.
All over the floor we have odd pots and pails.
Dear God, we’re all praying, don’t make it our fate,
That it still will be pouring on July twenty-eight.
The reception, you see, will be held at the lake.
So a nice sunny day all the difference will make.

Well, we’re down to the wire; Things are pretty well set.
Can we say we’re all ready? Oh Good Lord, not yet!
It’s July twenty-seventh and what do you know?!
It’s not only raining, there’s a terrible blow.
There are windows blown in! The roof is still leaking!
Decorations are soaked. Everybody is shrieking!
We’re mopping – we’re sopping, we’re all feeling blue.
If it’s like this tomorrow GOD! what will we do?

Tonight’s the rehearsal. After that there’s a dinner.
If this just can run smoothly it will sure be a winner.
The Reverend O’Brien who’s so hopeful he’ll please;
With his charm and good humor, soon had all well at ease.
Having him do the service filled us all with delight.
He’s our friend, well as Pastor; he made everything right.

Now the big day is here, everyone’s in a sweat.
What should I remember? What did I forget?
It’s a beautiful day with bright sunny skies.
We all thanked the Lord for this lovely surprise.

Where are we getting dressed? Where are we taking showers?
Will the church doors be open for the placing of flowers?
The men stay at camp while the girls go in town;
To get their hair braided; to put on each gown.
Everyone seems quite calm for some reason or other;
But guess who fouls up? You’re right – the bride’s mother!

The wedding’s at two; she’s got less than an hour.
To steam out a few wrinkles, hangs her dress o’er the shower.
She’s combing her hair; gives her face a quick scrub.
Turns around and “Oh Damn It” her skirt’s in the tub.
Yes, the shower is running, the skirt’s more than damp.
It’s just soaking wet and the iron’s at camp.
Now what will you do?, everybody is crying,
As she plugged in the gadget that’s used for hair drying.
She ran to the neighbors, got an iron and board.
Her niece pressed the dress. All is well, Praise the Lord.

We arrived at the church just a few minutes late;
From then on we’re dealt such a glorious fate.
At the front of the church stood the groom and best man.
After seating of mother the procession began.

This heart tugging sight was a joy to behold.
First came little Katie, her hair like spun gold.
She looked oh so sweet, like an angel from heaven,
Seeming oh so grown up, though she’s only eleven.

The bride’s sister came next, being her maid of honor;
In a beautiful dress that looked wonderful on her.
She’s a real pretty girl, with a dazzling smile;
Which just lit up the church as she came down the aisle.

Now comes the hard part, not too easy to mention;
As the music grows louder to get our attention.
At the back of the church, an emotional sight;
Of a very proud dad with the bride on his right.
There is such joy and sadness on this wedding day;
When a dad who so loves her, gives his daughter away!
But he has to remember when all’s said and done.
He’s not losing a daughter, he’s gaining a son!

After giving the hand of the bride to the groom;
When dad took his seat, a hush filled the room.
There wasn’t a doubt that the couple was nervous;
They practically whispered the words of the service.
Yet the vows were repeated. Ring exchanges were made.
The groom kissed the bride. The recessional played.
Of the wedding itself there’s not much to tell.
But I think you should know Brent rang the church bell.

A receiving line followed. In the heat it was strife.
While everyone greeted the new husband and wife.
The wedding was lovely; There was no mistake.
After taking of pictures, all returned to the lake.

The reception went perfect, lots of food – lots of beer.
Everyone seemed to be full of fun and good cheer.
Best man gave a toast to the new bride and groom.
After cutting the cake all guests left the room.
Twas time for the traditional tossing bouquet.
Taking, tossing of garter that traditional way.
Becca Welsh caught the flowers; then we all had to beg
To get Scott with the garter even near Becca’s leg.

Well, traditions are over. You’ve been given the facts.
Time for drinking and eating, it was time to relax,
There was plenty to eat. There was plenty of booze.
Some people sat talking. Some went for a snooze.

But they all will remember July twenty-eight,
Nineteen hundred and ninety for it really went great!!
With our families and friends it was truly a thrill;
To be part of the wedding of Wendy and Bill.

Love, Mom

Is that great or what? Thanks again, Mom! I hope they have internet in heaven so you know you’ve been published! :-) Love you and still miss you everyday!

And thank you all for stopping by today. I hope you’ll be back tomorrow for WHAT IF? Wednesday when we reveal our latest Sketch Challenge and announce the winner of our July challenges!


Apr 212010

Most mornings around here it’s time to wake up and smell the rubber. Fortunately for me, running the vulcanizer is my husband’s job. I’m really not too fond of the odor of cooking rubber. But then I remind myself that the stinky smell just means we’re one step closer to making a mortgage payment and putting food on the table. :-)

Since making stamps is part of our daily routine we don’t find it too remarkable, but many of our customers have asked us how it’s done. We’ve even hosted some “field trips” here over the years for a privileged few. But for those of you who haven’t seen it, this post is for you.

The process all starts with me straining my brain for new ideas and trying to get into my creative mode. Sometimes the drawings just flow out of me, but sometimes it’s a painful ordeal that involves artist’s block. And then, honestly… once I get into my “zone” I can sometimes be a bit difficult to live with. I tend to become so focused on my work that I don’t want to be interrupted with foolish things like fixing dinner, answering the phone or even sleep. Poor, Bill! I’ve often said that I’d love to run away to a remote cabin somewhere with just my drawing tools and computer until I can get it all out of my system.

Anyway… once my pen and ink drawings are completed I scan them into the computer. I group the images together on pages… kind of like laying out a big puzzle. Then I email my pages to our engraver. The engraver takes my pages and converts them into deeply etched magnesium engravings. Creating these metal plates is the only part of the process that we don’t do in-house as it involves etching with acid and scary stuff like that.

After the UPS man delivers our new engravings it’s time for Bill to get to work. The metal plates are sprayed with silicone and placed face down on top of matrix boards. These then go into the vulcanizer where they are squeezed and “baked” so the images on the metal plates are pressed into the matrix boards which then become the molds for the rubber.

Magnesium plate (left) and matrix board (right)

Next, Bill cuts slabs from a big roll of raw rubber and lays them on top of the matrix boards. Release paper is placed on top of the rubber so that all that hot, melting rubber doesn’t stick to the vulcanizer.

Roll of raw rubber ready for cutting.

Now comes the smelly part where everything gets slid into the vulcanizer to be cured. The vulcanizer squeezes the rubber into the molds with about 20,000 lbs. of pressure and cooks it at 330 degrees for about 5 minutes.

Vulcanizers... small manual press (left) and larger automatic (right).

When the rubber comes out of the vulcanizer it is super hot! Bill wears gloves as he removes the release paper and then peels the hot rubber out of the molds.

Removing the release paper from the cooked rubber.

Pulling hot sheets of rubber from the molds.

Once the rubber has cooled it is attached to our sticky back cushion. Bill then uses his scroll saw to skillfully cut the rubber into the individual rubber dies.

Rubber with sticky back cushion attached.

Cutting out the rubber dies with the scroll saw.

Then it is time to prepare all the wood mounts for the stamps. Most of our wood comes in 18″ long strips in a variety of widths. Bill has to measure, cut and sand each piece of wood to accommodate all the different stamps we’ll be making. After the wood has been prepared he indexes the wood by stamping the appropriate image on top of the block.

Indexing the wood mounts.

The final step in the process is peeling off the paper and attaching the rubber dies to the mounts. I actually love this part of the process and make time to put stamps together as often as I can. I find it very relaxing and a little therapeutic… probably because it’s a nice change of pace from all the time I spend on the computer working on invoicing, correspondence, marketing and other fun stuff.

Assembling the rubber stamps.

So there you have it… a day in the life of a rubber stamp manufacturer. And that’s just some of what we do when we are home and working in our shop. What we do when we take our rubber on the road is a whole different story. I’ll save that for another post!

Hope you enjoyed the virtual field trip :-)
Thanks for stopping by!