Heirloom Productions Rubber Stamp Festival

Reported by Sara McKenzie

The weekend of June 5-6 I enjoyed one of my annual treks to central Massachusetts to attend the Heirloom Productions Rubber Stamp Festival in West Springfield. They always put on a great show, and this year I was able to spend some time with Sheila and Dave Carlson, who are the on-site representatives of Heirloom Productions at almost every show. They share the on-site management responsibilities with the owner, Pat Larson, and their co-worker, Nikki Webb.

Annually, Heirloom produces on average 15 rubber stamp festivals, from east coast to west coast, and in-between. You can see the entire list of shows by clicking here. They are two-day, weekend affairs, with workshops, make ‘n takes and demonstrations throughout both days. Many of the shows also have fee classes on the Friday immediately preceding the show, and an evening session of make ‘n takes on Friday night. The price is right too: $6 in advance for a two day pass, or $8 at the door on Saturday, for a two day pass. Sunday only is $6. You simply cannot beat this admission price!!

The view down one of the aisles of the Heirloom Show on Saturday.

At the West Springfield show, which is one of their largest, there were 43 exhibitors, and the attendance was expected to be over 22oo crafters!! I was there on Saturday, so the final attendance numbers were not yet known – but Sheila and Dave indicated that they always bring along more tickets than were used at past year’s show, and they had already sold them out and were into the extras.

Above: The ever-busy Stampland Booth.

Below: Darlene Domel, of Stampland, busily demonstrated her masterful
techniques of stamping, masking and stippling to create beautiful rubber art.

Most of the exhibitors at West Springfield return year after year, and not only to the Massachusetts show. Many also participate in shows across the country. The exhibitors in Springfield included nationally known brands such as Denami Design, Endless Creations, Marco’s Paper, and Stampland; smaller brands such as Stamp Zia (a favorite of mine!!), Impression Obsession, Invoke Arts, and Stampsmith. They also may include local stores, and even a booth for a direct marketing company such as Stampin’ Up! or Close-to-My-Heart. The exhibitors are listed in advance for each show; you can see the entire list of exhibitors at West Springfield here.

Above: Stampers eagerly awaiting the start of a Stampscapes make ‘n take session.

Below: a piece of lovely art representative of what can be created with Stampscapes stamps.

There is always a huge variety of merchandise for sale, as well. There are not only rubber stamps, but also embellishments galore, basic stamping supplies, tools, cardstock and decorative paper (of course!), brass stencils, embossing powder and glitter. And so on, and so on…. The majority of exhibitors have an extensive display of samples of artwork and are happy to allow crafters to take pictures for future inspiration. Below is an example of one, which inspired me to not only buy a few things, but to want to pull out all of my supplies as soon as I got home: it’s embossing using brass stencils and stencil paste.

Above: Sample board at Polly’s Pals, who carry the biggest selection of Dreamweaver brass stencils that I have ever seen in one place. The sample board shows all of the different effects you can get with stencil paste of various colors and finishes, with or without color, or glitter, or foil added on top. Below: The demonstration at Polly’s Pals booth. Tons of helpful hints and reminders on how to stencil with paste.

Do you know Sparkle and Sprinkle? Their specialty is embossing powder of every color in the rainbow, with and without added glitter. They were VERY popular.

Below is one of my favorite specialty shops: Vintage Charmings. The owner lives in France, and purchases all manner of vintage French ephemera and other ‘charming’ items for us to use in our crafting. And she makes a point of NOT purchasing anything in Paris, so the prices are very reasonable.

As I mentioned at the outset, Dave and Sheila Carlson of Heirloom Products very generously spent an hour with me on Saturday afternoon, sharing their experience in putting on these shows as well as LOTS of great stories! They are long-time friends with the owner, Pat Larson, and have been working with Heirloom for 7 years, producing the shows across the county. Sheila was originally a Stampin’ Up! addict, so rubber stamp festival management was a natural direction for her to go in. And Dave clearly loves people and loves to have a good time, so he is also a natural for this job.

In each city, they hire lots of local help: 2 people to help Heirloom, and another ~25 who are hired by individual vendors. These folks spend anywhere from a few hours to an entire day in exchange for modest wages and free admission to the show. When I asked what made an Heirloom show special, they thought for a moment and then said, unequivocally, that it is all about making people happy. And this certainly seems to be the case: between the exhibitors who return year after year, to the attendees who stop on their way out to share what it is they purchased, the Carlsons are achieving their goal!

Sheila and Dave Carlson of Heirloom Productions, who were celebrating their
wedding anniversary at the Rubber Stamp Festival on Saturday, June 5.

This year I was unable to get away for any of the fee classes offered on Friday. But I have been many times in past years, and have never been disappointed. In West Springfield, they have been 1-2 hours in duration each, with 6-8 total classes offered during the day, and sometimes into the evening. So you can really get your jollies crafting the entire weekend!

If you are within driving distance of any of the locales for an Heirloom show, you should go. You won’t be disappointed. And for readers of Craft Critique: a discount for the remaining shows in 2010!! Just contact the main Heirloom office at (541)-574-8000 (Pacific time) by JULY 31, 2010, tell them you are a Craft Critique reader, and you get a two-fer: two admission tickets for the price of one! Thanks, Heirloom!!

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6 Responses to Heirloom Productions Rubber Stamp Festival

  1. Avatar
    ke123h June 12, 2010 at 7:56 am #

    I was there for both days helping out at the CropStop doing free Make & Takes featuring the gorgeous Heartfelt Creations flower stamps and nestabilities. Sat was non-stop and so much fun! Sorry I didn’t get to see you Sara! The products and techniques on display were so beautiful – this was an awesome event.

  2. Avatar
    Mari June 12, 2010 at 12:15 pm #

    I’ve heard good things about these shows, but I don’t imagine I’ll ever get to one. For whatever reason, they don’t ever seem to come to Colorado – or even close.
    It’s a bummer since our shows here are usually less than exciting. Rocky Mtn Rubber Hi this year was really, really small (like maybe 10 actual stamping related booths). The larger show in August is moving again this year. Every time they move the N. CO show it seems to get smaller and makes less sense. I’ve actually seen booths for leather belts, tupperware, food mixes, religious wood carvings and BRAS at the show. Yes, bras. And there were women in their tiny little changing tent trying them on and being flashed to the world. It was bizarre.
    What can I say? Surely do miss having real shows around here…. *sigh*

  3. Avatar
    rush8888 June 12, 2010 at 4:53 pm #

    i am so jealous. no one ever comes close to greenville, nc!

  4. Avatar
    Donna Scanlon June 12, 2010 at 5:24 pm #

    This really is a great show and I have attended it about half a dozen times. One day is never enough! Between all the great demos and the number of vendors at the Springfield show you just don’t know where to start! Heirloom really gets great vendors at their shows.

  5. Avatar
    Amy June 13, 2010 at 4:21 am #

    Wow, looks like an incredible show. I’m glad you were able to attend, and thank you for sharing your photos.

  6. Avatar
    paperqueen June 13, 2010 at 7:40 am #

    I was there Saturday; my third year in a row. I’m not anywhere near W. Springfield either, but I’m lucky that my LSS, The Ink Pad in NYC, sponsors a yearly bus trip to the venue. I love it not only for shopping, but I usually get to meet people in the stamping community that I have only known online.
    Great fun and well worth visiting.