They have nicknames like Wicked Stamp Mother, NoMonet and Mad Mozel StamPear. They stamp through the mail, at home parties or on the Internet. They inhale "a rubber high" at stamp shows. They're addicted to stamps.
No, not the kind you lick and stick on the Macy's bill. These are rubber stamps, the kind you thump on an ink pad, then thump on a piece of paper, envelope or card. You fill in the stamped image with watercolors, color markers or some hot wax. Add a few accessories like glitter or foil, and -- voila -- you have rubber stamp art. Or, at least, a card that didn't come from Hallmark.
From California to Florida, rubber stamp artists -- a k a stampers -- are stamping their own greeting cards, bookmarks and stationery. More advanced stampers are decorating their homes with stamps, jazzing up everything from door knockers and sofa pillows to ceramic tiles and vertical blinds.
If it sounds a bit like Martha Stewart (indeed, she's said to have dabbled in stamping), consider that rubber stamping is one of the fastest growing crafts in the United States and Europe.
"If I don't have time to rubber stamp, I'm going through withdrawal," says Marianne Merola, 34, a Las Vegas secretary.
"If I come home and I'm upset about something or I've had a really bad day, I can walk in my 'stamp' room and a peace will just come over me. I just let out a sigh and say, 'Ahhh ...' It sounds so pathetic. It's crazy."
Crazy, perhaps, but it may explain why stamping is riding a wave across the country. Why devoted stampers are trekking to conventions in Portland, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, Dallas, Chicago, Atlanta and Boston.
While stamping started to catch fire in California about 15 years ago, it is just now catching on in South Florida, says Roy Stevens, an artist and stamp teacher who opened the Artistic U rubber stamp store in Tamarac, Fla., a year and a half ago.