This story originally appeared in the Charleston Daily Mail on November 1, 2010.
West Virginia has gained many things through the 2010 special Senate election. National attention. “Star Wars”-inspired campaign ads. A free Ted Nugent concert.
And “rubber stamps.”
Almost from the get-go, Republican candidate John Raese has accused opponent Gov. Joe Manchin of being a “rubber stamp” for the much-derided Obama administration and Manchin is using the same phrase in his rebuttals.
But don’t bring that up at Beverly Ford’s Almost Heaven Scrapbooking Store, located near Chamberlain Elementary in Kanawha City. Those folks take stamping seriously.
“I don’t like the commercials. Rubber-stamping, it’s almost like it’s a carbon copy,” said frequent customer Vicki Thomas, 54, of Hurricane. “That’s not a correct usage of the words ‘rubber stamp.’ ”
True rubber stamping doesn’t end once the rubber meets the paper.
“With our rubber stamping, we do images and it doesn’t look the same every time. You can spin it however you want to,” Ford said.
Stamping might start with a crafter inking their stamp and pressing it, firmly and gently, onto a greeting card or some other surface. But all bets are off after that, Ford said.
Stampers color their designs with pencils, watercolors or alcohol-based Copic markers, a recent rubber stamping fad stolen from Japanese manga artists. Unlike conventional coloring book markers, Copics make clean lines, blend well and don’t streak, Thomas said.
She said rubber stamp enthusiasts, often scrapbook addicts in disguise, also use their stamped designs to create design elements for scrapbook pages.
By her definition, Ford says it might be a good thing if Manchin started rubber stamping for the Obama administration. He could take an idea from the President “and color it a whole different way with a rubber stamp,” she said.
She admits her problem with the Raese ads isn’t all about defending her business, however.
“It’s not so much because I sell rubber stamps. I’m not real crazy about that ad because I’m a Manchin fan,” Ford said.
Ford said she thinks the Raese campaign just picked up their “rubber stamp” mantra because it “sounded kind of neat for them to say.”
Almost Heaven patron Kathy Burke, 60, of Charleston, says she’ll vote for Raese on Tuesday but also wishes his campaign had picked another catchphrase.
“It’s not the same. It’s totally different every time. I wish I could get the same stamp every time. I wish I could,” Burke said.
And though stamps come in all shapes, sizes and designs, Thomas, Burke and Ford say they have never seen a rubber stamp featuring President Obama.