Almost three years ago, a very typical event repeated itself here in Northern Illinois. A friend passed along The Family Fun Article. You know the one I'm talking about. And like so many others, we looked up LbNA, grabbed a couple of store-bought stamps from the cabinet, and the girls and I went and found our first letterboxes (plus a HH!) that afternoon. The next day we found several more and also discovered Atlas Quest. And I placed an order for MasterCarve and a Speedball gouge.
Those first ten stamps were pretty horrid, and I am ashamed to say that one of them (the book) is still in an active letterbox desperately needing replacement. The turtle was first, followed by the ground squirrel. Our first signature stamp (down in the R corner) came next. It was carved twice (after the tail fell off) before I found the infamous Nitrocat and Kittens image that we are still using. The remaining six were planted in a series of boxes in a local forest preserve. The red flower is a recarve after the first stamp broke. All of them have been retired. Can you see the teeth marks on the spider web from when it got taste tested?
We were now several weeks into our boxing experience and by that time I had consumed vast amounts of the AQ message boards and tutorials. I had discovered the pink Speedy Stamp and postals. Miss Moppett was my very first postal carve; a definite improvement over the turtle, but also my first black hole. I mailed this one off and have never heard from it since.
In some ways, these carving posts are in the wrong order because what happened next has already been seen. I picked up an Exacto knife. Magpie Magic, Watership Down and Theosophy were the results. Something clicked on in my brain and now I can't put the thing down. Everywhere I go, I see things that "would make a great stamp". I lie awake nights. My family thinks I'm nuts, and my chiropractor just shakes her head. I still use a gouge for some things like cleaning out larger areas and texture (the fur on the hedgehog and the bats, for instance), but am largely a knife carver. People like SHH and Archemedes Screw are proof positive of the insanely fantastic things you can do with a gouge. The exacto just works better for me. More on that later.