The Mad Stamper
The Mad Stamper, Joanne Oake, posted this to me from British Columbia in 1994. It's her handmade greeting card made with layered paper & commercially purchased rubberstamps arranged imaginatively, with the central attraction being the Goddess of Laughter (Baubo, who painted a face on her ass to amuse Demeter). It was sent inside a much-stamped-on blue envelope. A letter within the card thanked me for poems & artworks sent to her "many years ago," & apologizing for not sending me anything in return back then because "We couldn't decide what to do about it at the time." I'm still puzzling over what that meant, but my sendings have more than once befuddled individuals who were only on the cusp of finding out what mail art is, & weren't sure why something cryptic or wordless arrived from me. Perhaps "at the time" they pondered having the Royal Canadian Mounties investigate a spooky situation!
Mail art done exclusively with commercial rubber stamps is very common, but it seems to me the rubber stampers who do not carve their own stamps or mingle purchased rubberstamp images with collage or mixed media, are a slightly different if much larger cluster of people than mail artists per se. This is not to say they're inferior for using exclusively purchased images; indeed I've seen extremely elaborate art created with purchased stamps, & when it comes to mail art, classifying some forms as inferior would be ridiculous because mail art is across the board either crappy, or not crappy, depending more on mood & attitude of sender & recipient, rather than on objective judgements.
There are many who have a love of the object, that is, of a rubber image glued to a wooden backing or handle. I've seen people with their collections of purchased rubberstamps & they are clearly going all orgasmo just like a coin collector or rockhound with their respective treasured objects. Stamping out novel combinations of the rubber images is just an added excuse for the collection itself.
Some folks using nothing but commercial rubberstamps create things vastly superior to my humble no-account mail art, so quality isn't my point. If you hang out with rubberstamp artists, though, you will meet retailers & wholesalers left & right, selling or manufacturing commercial rubber stamps. Among the more classically inclined mail artists, without regard to the relative merits of the differing mediums used, the fact is, you meet a higher percentage of colorful weirdos who're not carting around stuff to sell. And if the journal Rubber Stamp Madness is any indication, then rubberstamping is in essence a mainstream craft catered to by rubber stamp retail shops in even the smallest cities.
I think it's possible Joanne dropped out of mail art & became a Canadian politician, but I'm not sure about that. The mail art name Mad Stamper is still around, though, because other rubberstamp collectors lit on that name too.
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