Friday, 17 May 2013

Discussion point: Controversy or Sour Grapes...


I've enlarged this card so that you can see the amount of detail and the fact that the detail isn't great.  It was an unmounted plate sent to me as part of the 'test' run for joining a Design Team (DT). Before I started on the stamps that I was sent, I spent about an hour surfing the shop's site, checking what products they sold against what I owned so as not to use anything that would compromise the 'product loading'.  And then I rubbed my hands together with glee and started to stamp.
It caused me great stress.  Despite my twenty years' experience, I could not get this plate to reproduce a decent, or whole image.  This is the only image I managed to turn into a card.... I used a black fine-liner pen to fill in the principal figure legs and face - and note, loads of background is missing.  Frankly, I didn't want to waste expensive mount foam on it - it's not the sort of stamp I'd use again, but I used re-useable cling mount on it, so there was cushioning. For the first time ever, I even stood on the stamp to see if I could distribute my weight evenly enough to get a whole image.  Nope.  
Many, many ruined images and a couple hours of frustration later, I realised that my time was more valuable, my paid for stock was being wasted and I was considering spending more money on EZ Mount - all to create a retail advantage for somebody who doesn't want to pay for this sort of effort.  Way to suddenly remove the pressure - work out that you don't have to do it!  This was an epiphany for me,  my time and precious stash is better spent crafting for my pleasure! 
I sent an email, tactfully explaining my difficulty, and pointing out that it was just the sort of stamp that people bring into a workshop and ask me what they're doing wrong over, and then I put this and a couple of cards I made using other stamps that had been sent for the 'trial' into the post.  Needless to say, I had an email a couple of weeks later saying that I hadn't got a place on the DT.  

What really jiggers me about this experience is that the business concerned has a reputation for selling really great quality stamps, world famous brands.  But the rubber I was sent is clearly not designed by the Brands, and worse, the artwork hasn't been cleaned up enough before being committed to rubber. Even on these cute bees, the width of the line drawings was inconsistent; the heart as you can see, is a much broader line than the bees. In many many cases, I want to scream 'clip art', but that is unproven, so I can't.  Perfectly acceptable if you're using separate stamps or combining brands, but clearly they were on the same 'plate' to be sold as a set.  

Am I nit picking?  Of course I don't think so. I really think that these businesses ride the reputations established by the big brands that they (usually) have exclusive distribution rights for, to produce their own ranges which are in every respect, cheaper.  Maybe because I've been stamping for so long I have become very critical of poor quality and attention to detail on rubber.  I complained and explained to DO Crafts over the same point about 18 months ago.  Happy to say that they acknowledged and listened.  It's clearly not just me, changes come when the manufacturers hear what the consumers do and don't like.
And so to offer some balance - here's a card I made from the same cute bees set, which I think is lovely.  Nice sharp clean image, the detail hasn't filled in, the line work is more or less even and it makes a good image.  Result!

Now I know this post will come across as sour grapes, and there will be loads of people who feel the need to defend their Design Team positions.  No need, I take my hat off to you, time, deadlines and stash - good for you.  It's ME that doesn't need it.  And the rest of the post was about stamp quality..remember that before you get all inflamed, huh!


37 comments:

l00pyscraftcreations said...

hunni, its not sour grapes!
DT work IS stressful. There's deadlines, product, postage.........and finally imagination. If one of the most important areas fail then the sample fails. Like yourself I have had some bad experiences with stamps, although I have no where near as much experience with them as you. Quality is incredibly important, if the image is not able to be stamped cleanly then it doesnt matter how many goes you have at it, and once you find one fault, believe me you find others! lol.
I enjoy DT work, But if the product doesnt produce the expected results I walk away! Not your fault, and you dont need the stress or outlay, xxx

airing cupboard crafts said...

I really like the love bugs card. It does scream clip art though....

Have missed ya this week and look forward to a catch up Monday x x x

Laura said...

I hear no sour grapes but I do see faulty stamps. Think maybe that would be the wrong DT to be on..! I have found a nice team, great boss, super company and no pressure - I'm beginning to see that this is a one off and I am uber-lucky.

Craftilicious said...

Totally not sour grapes! If you can't get a good impression then theres precious little hope for newer crafters who will be buying them and then thinking they are "no good" at a hobby they could excel in given decent stash. Big companies are such a pain! It is no secret to my regular blog readers that I am a HUGE Waltzingmouse stamps fan and one of the reasons is the fabulous customer service you get from Claire - the mere mention of a tiny defect in a stamp set has her rushing back to the manufacturer and reissuing everyone who bought said set with a new one no questions asked. So, if the little independent gal can do it - at I'm sure, great cost, then surely the big guys can sacrifice a little profit in favour of decent customer service.
Big up the little guys I say!
And as for DT's - I find their insistance on using the same 20 or so card makers on every team VERY boring.....

Helen said...

I can only imagine the language when you were trying to stamp that first image... luckily my DT work is all online fun stuff, not for companies as such but yes, sometimes deadlines are a pain in the ....!

Those intricate stamps are so hard to get good images (except the Magenta ones which I usually find stamp well - I think it's the gorgeous wooden mounts (but we know you and I both love woodmounted stamps!!!) I sometimes use a brayer for them to apply ink evenly.

fairy thoughts said...

way to go julia its about time someone commented that we dont need to put up with inferior products.... hopefully the company will take note.... especially if they read your blog. I tend not to use stamps like that anyway for that reason. I had my epiphany a while go about only doing stuff I want to I am always being asked to sell my beading but they dont want ot pay for the 10s of hours it takes let alone the cost of the beads. hey how do what makes you happy.... must get back to the housework :(
janet....

Lisa-Jane said...

I think you are right Julia. If a product is no good, we should tell them and our DT work should be about using the products we love and not accepting second best just for some "free" stuff which rarely compensates for the time and energy we put into it.

Angie said...

I took this as a rant at rubbish stamps ...and rationalization of the want to be on a DT ...V ...the work it entails ....where was the sour grapes????? xx

Francesca said...

If there is a problem with the stamps, then manufacturers should be made aware, even if they don't like the criticism. You have to tell how it is. On a personal note, those stamps don't do it for me. xx

Sarah said...

I had a similar problem with a two sets of stamps from two well known companies (via a shop and a DT) yet the replacement sets were even worse so I just gave up and switched ideas... It really is a pain in the arse and like you I spent hours fuming and doubting. I think all crafters should make an effort to complain and stand up for their rights as both consumers and designers. Faulty goods are faulty goods. DT work is my greatest joy and pain. Like kids.... When all is going well it's hunkydory but when it ain't working you wonder why you are killing yourself for 2p a week.
I actually miss my early days of non DT crafting and WOYWWing... I also miss my brain at the mo but that's another story...
Well done for speaking up. Mrs. D has clout you know, so let's hope the crafting gods that be have their ears open...

Dorothy H said...

I would think the whole point of having a DT is not to only show off your product but to also give you, the complany, feeedback on stuff such as what you pointed out: line qualilty, stampability, ink coverage, ease of use for beginners and more advanced users, etc. When you sell shoddy products, it comes back to haunt you eventually and fixing these stamps is such an easy thing to do BEFORE going to rubber. I suspect they already made a huge batch into rubber already and didn't want to scrap them hence not listening to honest reviews.

Di said...

Oh Julia - well said!! Rubbish stamps are one big con and so disappointing :( I've just found Ryn Tanaka and her stamps are amazing, really deeply etched with perfect results every time. But there are others out there who really need to get their act together.

Over a year ago I was asked to join a DT and then the fun began. In the build up I was deluged with emails and could see it was gonna be a lot of pressure, mostly at my expense with a mahoosive amount of time needed to boot - so I walked before the launch of the new DT - and haven't regretted it one jot.

It's not sour grapes Julia - honesty is the best policy and I do agree with Tara that the 'same old, same old' from certain DTs drives me nuts. Some people are on so many it's a bit of a monopoly. It just gets boring and predicable - two things you will NEVER be my friend!

Hugs, Di xx

Julie Ann Lee said...

I'm a bit new to all this to make an intelligent comment, except that this clearly isn't sour grapes on your part. I just want to say that first stamp looked dull and boring and even if it had printed OK, I'm not sure it's that adaptable;as a customer I would never choose an image like that. It seems like you so did the right thing bowing out, just a pity you wasted the energy you did on it. x

Krisha said...

Hi Julia,
Well Hon, I have a stamp on my desk right now that I am having the same problem with, and it is a leading stamp company. I have been tossing about the idea to e-mail them, but they will just tell me to take it back to the store I bought it at. Problem is I went every direction to get it to print, including taking it off the wood......sooooo I am between a rock and a crummpy stamp!!

Deb said...

think you had a lucky escape there, imagine having to cope with that on a regular basis. I keep my DT stuff to a minimum and luckily we get the opportunity to choose what we would like to use. I know people who don't know what they are going to be sent and have a nightmare and all kinds of stress trying to work out how to use it when they don't like the stuff!
Debxx

fairyrocks said...

Interesting topic. I applaud your honesty. I have purchase 'expensive' faulty product too many times. I once lost a job because I was asked for an honest opinion that management did not want to hear. {I can adimit now I was bitter about that, but relieved as well not have to kiss up any longer} Thank You for speaking the truth. I have only been on one DT that actually pay's what its worth in 'free' product. DT's NEVER get paid for their time. Unfortunate as there are so many fantastic DT's out there. At any rate, keep smiling and creating, your way, and on your time.

Lisa said...

I withdrew from a well compensated DT with a really good company with fabulous stamps because I found the products just didn't inspire me to do anything different, I was producing the same old same old. Life's too short! I now do one DT for fun, once a month......mind you I am holding out for the one DT I'd kill to be on, for my favourite stamp line- I was a guest DT one month, and they sent so much fabulous rubber!!! Good for you girl :)

Karen said...

Sour grapes, no way!!! I agree with you. I used to think it was me with some stamps as I know I have dexterity issues sometimes, but I use the same hands with other stamps and they come out fine, absolutely brilliant some of them!!! I can see how people might give up on what is a good hobby and in my case, makes money for charity, so it's a real shame. You are always honest and we value your comments and opinions on craft items. When steam comes out of your ears, make a cuppa! Keep smiling! Karen x

Jo Murray said...

If a product doesn't do the job it's designed for then that is a serious flaw with the company's policies. You don't need the stress!

Carmen said...

Nope, no sour grapes (you'd have named the company if that was the case) Just an honest opinion.

The DT I worked on was amazingly good with me as I had a lot going on personally at the time and they were so good with me but I have heard some real horror stories when, lets face it, you are spending many hours bigging up a company for a few freebies (which technically aren't free) if it's not for you, it's not for you. It wasn't for me in the end. I'm rubbish at deadlines and just found in the end I was making stuff for the DT and not doing what I wanted to do with the little crafty time I have.

Elizabeth said...

Sour grapes ... I don't thinks so. You were asked to try out the stamps which, to me, invites feedback - if they can't take it, that's their lookout. You gave that first stamp a fair crack of the whip and it failed, miserably, and for the reasons you write about. There is nothing more disappointing than falling for a stamp just to find it doesn't live up to expectation ... I have one or two like that and having read your post I wish I had complained about them. As for DTs, I've chosen to give up all DT work ... it was taking the fun out of it for me - I just don't need the pressure for very little recompense and I much prefer to do my own thing with whatever supplies I like :) Hugs, Elizabeth xx
PS: would love to be a fly, or should that be a bee, on the wall when they read your post :))

Bobby said...

I'm not on, nor plan to be on a DT. I'm not even a stamper as such - just a few stamps, mostly sentiments. If I were in the market for stamps, these would not appeal to me even if they stamped perfectly. It is great of you to make us aware, especially so we don't think it's "us" who can't stamp.

Kim said...

Nothing sour about it! And, as a DT member, (or potential) they should listen to your critique of the quality before they go into full production! There are two companies I won't buy from because of 2 instances you had...just not worth the time, money or frustration to buy and "see" if it will be ok.

Redanne said...

Well done Julia for speaking out! I too, have purchased some stamps recently and had a hard job getting them replaced (but did in the end). I have also joined my first DT and have just done my first post on it - I am quite happy to be on the team because the owner is not affiliated to a shop or a brand and we all use our own stamps/stash. I think that takes a lot of pressure off (for me anyway!). I love the bee card BTW. Hugs, Anne x

Maudieroff Roffey said...

Def not sour grapes... Julia - if you dont give honest opinion then what sthe point!! The bug images are cute - I would never buy that sort of golf type stamp - but I know people that would and what heartache if it arrived and they had the same problem... I have also had the unfortunate event when I got my first doily stamp on-line from USA and no matter what I do I cannot get a complete image - it is relegated to borders only so not a complete loss but it does upset as its hard earned money spent to keep our creativity flowing... I couldnt consider a DT - too much pressure... Mxx

Eliza said...

Touche, I am with you, the quality is very important with the product, for you then to produce a beautiful and acceptable piece of artwork. If the faults are there and you have problems with them then what is the customer going to think when they purchase the product and make mistakes. What about the amateur, imagine how they will feel with this product failing all the time, they will think that they are not a good stamper and get defeated.

When trying to push products you really have to be careful of the customer, because ultimately they are the ones that will keep the sales happening, word of mouth says a lot in the small cyber world we live in. Hey my hat goes off to you for the hours of dedication that you have placed into an effort to get a DT placement. I don't understand how people can chase these positions as they chew up so much time and energy for little in return. I have had DT placements in the past and really they are not what they are cracked up to be, you are continually chasing the clock, for so little.

Like me you have a lot on your plate so to speak, everything has probably worked out for the best.

Happy crafting with YOUR stash.

Hugs Eliza

Karen Ives said...

Am not on any design teams so my unbiased view is simple. A poor quality stamp produces a poor image and experience for the artist. If we don't accept poor quality or service in other aspects of our lives then why should we waste our time or money on inferior crafting stash. Simples!

KatzElbows said...

Just here to add my ten cents. Some stamps just aren't art quality, even when they're supposed to be. I don't think this is sour grapes at all, rather an honest response to something that hasn't worked.

Alas, all stampers have experienced stamps like this. All you can do is put it away and ignore it!

Queenie Jeannie said...

Being on a DT can be fun, but it's a lot of work and stress. Stamping for me has to be fun, or I don't want to do it!!! Life is too short!

Shaz Brooks said...

Hi Julia, I have to agree with the other commenters- not sour grapes, just the facts. What really amazes me though, is that they obviously had not tried the stamps out when they first got the pressings. Why ever not?
Surely, if something is going to be carrying your name, you want that name to be boosted by your product, not killed stone dead!
There is no such thing as being too picky about quality either- especially with rubber stamps. You are either going to get a good image that you can use, oryou aren't. If I'm paying good money for something, or effectively endorsing the product by using it on a DT, then I too would expect high quality. Way to go, Julia. Hugs, Shaz xx

MaggieC said...

I could not agree more. If the stamps are not up to scratch, then the company should be willing and keen to hear constructive criticism. If they are not, then they are not the ones to work for. My DT work at the moment is online for a themed blog, and they have been very understanding and taken up the slack while I sort my life out again. I can use my own stamps (good ones) or produce my own designs, which is fun. We do crafting for enjoyment not for hassle. I had a problem with on silhouette stamp and asked for help, which came almost instantly from the company and from others who use the stamps. Go for things you enjoy. Life is too short to add unnecessary stress. xx Maggie

Almo said...

Hi Julia, I dont hear sour grapes either, I just hear frustration. There is nothing worse that bad quality stamps well done for speaking out. Love the cute bee card. Hugs Mo x

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

I made a bunch of poorly stamped Christmas cards two years ago with one of those fine line stamps. When I asked on my blog what my problem was, several people told me to sand the rubber a bit, so I did. NO help there. I never got a good image, which sounds like the same problem you had. Now I don't feel so bad! And it was one of those expensive big name stamps, too.

As for DTs, I was on UHU's DT for about a year. We were supposed to make something every two weeks, which wasn't a problem for me, but I found several of the DT didn't hold up their end of the bargain. We got no guidance, help, or anything. If we ran out of glue (and I did more often than some of the DT members because my mixed media art was more glue intensive), we had to buy our own glue. The company changed hands and never once let any of us know. For nearly a year, my name and photo were still on the site, even though I hadn't designed for them in all that time.

So, my dear, you are lucky you weren't chosen. It takes all the fun out of creating. No sour grapes, either. Just honesty.

Princess Judy Palmer said...

Stand by your convictions and fooey to those who feel you should do otherwise. I'm with you over lousy quality of stamps and it took an off hand comment by a friend to make me see the light. I was getting stamp kits from an internet company that sells multiple brands. The kits had this and that from different companies. Then they started making their own brand of stamps to include in the kits and frankly the quality just was not there.

Like you, I tried multiple things, wasted lots of paper, and got frustrated. I was bemoaning this to a friend and she said, "After using quality products for so long it is hard to use those that aren't." That was the ah-ha moment. It wasn't me, it was them, their product was blah. I immediately cancelled my monthly kit and feel so much happier about it.

The company did not seem to care why I was cancelling and said that no one else complained. They have a solid reputation for what they do, like you, I'm surprised they aren't concerned what this latest venture will do to their rep. I'll still use the company to purchase all those other brands they sell, with their name on it.

Kyla said...

Not sour grapes but honest. A poor product should not be placed to market (dont get me started on my 4 month fiasco with a certain gentlemans alphabet die that doesn't work!). Shame they didn't take the opportunity to talk to you about improvements.....their loss.

Kyla

Dianne said...

Well thanks for the info Julia, I could never be a designer for any company too much stuff, LOL, I do find if I use an old mouse pad under my cardstock and stamp the image comes out way better, it acts like a gelli plate:O). Your cards are lovely anyway:)good luck with your stamping, and thanks for sharing...

Maxam Made said...

Julia, Great post! I could hear Kenny Rogers In the back ground singing "ya gotta know when to hold them, know when to fold them, when to walk away!" I have noticed companies will charge top dollar for stamps that are "B" grade and explain the problem as operator error. Stamping is supposed to be simple, ink up a stamp thowick it on the paper and there you have the image you couldn't possibly draw! companies lessen the grades of their rubber and polymers, shorten the processing time and then wonder why the images aren't stamping well. Crafting is supposed to be fun! I would have walked away from it too, If I have to spend more than twenty miniutes on an image to get it to look good, it is gone!! Have a great day!
Ginny Maxam