Chapter 2 – After Stamps came Stencils…

Chapter 2 – After Stamps came Stencils…

Hi there.

The story continues. We launched our Claritystamp range on telly in about 2008 – and that’s when things really took off. Our little corner stamps and pattern-building tricks proved very popular. It was something new to TV, and folks loved the way we presented. So we moved out of the portable cabin in the garden and into an industrial unit on a farm. It was the Old Pig Shed!! Our team grew then, to keep up with orders. Oh how we grafted!

We would spend all month making stamp stock, then Dave would drive it all up to the Peterborough TV warehouse, then I would go up to the TV studios, do an hour or two – and sell the lot! Then come home – and start again for the next month! Actually, in the beginning we could only handle 2 hours every 6 weeks! And I would spend all my evenings preparing the demos or cutting out stamps. So full of fear and nerves. But it was okay, and as the sales grew, so did the Clarity team.

Mark and Grace were growing up into beautiful people, working hard, playing hard, and living the dream in America…and they still are!

Dave and I were hard at work, growing our business…and having fun too actually!

Now fast forward to 2013. I had discovered the Gelli Plate. What a great, formidable piece of Kit!! It really fired up my imagination, and whilst it was already being used in select art circles, nobody had taken it to the TV. So I took a risk, placed a HUGE order with the American company, and then started getting to grips with it!

First trial was at the NEC to to test the waters…

Well, what can I say? The public loved them! And I soon figured out that they worked beautifully with stencils. And so we bought a laser machine, and our friend Mel Turner, the cartographer, started designing superb stencils for us…

We made them to fit the Gelli plates too, which is why most of our stencils are 7”x7”, to fit the 6”x 6” Gelli Plate!

I also figured out pretty quickly that the Gelli Plate was far more useful and versatile if it was mounted on an acrylic megamount, turning it into a stamp of course! So we bought another laser machine, and started etching acrylic plates…and enter the Mega mounts, complete with etched markings for positioning. Hold that thought, because it was this simple thing that led us on to the next Chapter…tomorrow’s blog…

And so we grew. 2 laser machines became 3, (Let me add that these machines cost £25,000 each, so it was certainly a considered purchase every time!). Clearly, the stencil business was faring very well. We were building a super selection of stencils by now, and I was gaining confidence with my Gelli art too. The art samples below are all around 2013 and 2014!

By now everybody and their crafty brother was caught up in the Gelli Plate wave, and we were designing super stencils alongside our stamps. They were fun times. Our team had grown, and business was booming.

We had our first Clarity Open Day at Crowborough Rugby Club – a celebration of all things Clarity. And it was packed!! Recognise anyone?

We ran Clarity Retreats at Crowborough Rugby Club too… who was there when Prince Phillip popped in??

oh. And we watched rugby there too …

Next stop Germany. We took our wares to Munich and started on TV there…at HSE. All the while still appearing on Create & Craft too. Those were very busy times!

And all the while these guys were tirelessly working away in the background…

These were the years we travelled A LOT. Worked on TV in Germany, worked on TV in the UK, launched TV in the States. Living out of suitcases, working out of suitcases…recognise anyone?

These were good times. With the power of hindsight now, when I scroll through the photos to build this blog, I am astounded at what we packed into those years. I guess we still do, but it’s different now. Not bad. Different. We‘re older, more stay-at-home – and that’s okay. Now I’m busy in a different direction too…

Anyway, that’ll do for Chapter 2. Tomorrow we move on to the 3rd phase, where we really did get on a different bus altogether!!

Hope you’re enjoying this … I am. I don’t often look backwards. But this is actually very affirming. At a time when I often wonder what the hell is happening, and whatever next….

Stay safe.

Love and Hugs

Barb xxx

24 thoughts on “Chapter 2 – After Stamps came Stencils…

  1. Really enjoying your story and you really have worked so very hard and have become very popular.
    Just wondering tho maybe a Documentary/film?
    On manufacturing the products you sell, ie the groovy plates? from the drawings to the finished product s🤔
    I’m sure many of us crafters who enjoy your work would also be interested?
    I know you really have enough to do but it was just a thought.
    Keep up the good work clarity, you all do a fantastic job😘

  2. I am really enjoying this retrospective – surprising to realise that I’ve been following along for so much of your journey, as it always felt that you were already a very well established and longstanding company when I discovered you, yet I remember so much of this story!
    I know what’s coming in the next chapter, of course. As for the future, here’s hoping it’s rosy and full of many more crafting adventures for us all.

  3. Can’t wait for the next instalment of the Clarity journey. Loving all the photos. Pottery is looking good love the pink looking bowls.x

    1. The pink looking bowls are just crank clay bisque fired. Now I have to decide what glaze if any I use…I do have a brilliant pink speckle glaze I could use for the inside though….x x x

  4. Wow! I never made the most of the gelli plate so time for another go in the New Year I think ! Loving the achievements – carry on tomorrow ! X

    Love to Erik (and Ragna who must be missing his playtime pal) x

  5. What a lovely look down memory lane, its great to hear how things developed with Clarity. And just how hard you all work!

  6. that was a really interesting…very long blog. loved the photos too. brings back good memories. look forward to more.

  7. I know we’ve had bits and pieces of how the company started and grown, but a more in depth history I am finding really interesting. Thank you Barbara.
    ….. love the toadstools in the forest card

  8. My goodness what a lot you’ve packed in. I only started crafting at the end of 2013. So still consider myself new to all this. A chance meeting with an experienced crafter at a racecourse changed my life forever and for the better. Wouldn’t want to be with my crafting now. Looking forward to the next instalment. Glad you are travelling gently now, no more living out of suitcases. x

  9. This instalment set me thinking as I went to an Open day at the Rugby Club. OH has record of our bookings at the C & C campsite for 2016 & 17 & I know I went to the Community Centre twice so it must have been 2015 when he dropped me off at the Rugby Club in our motorhome. I can remember the lads in the car park having a look of panic on their faces as they were trying to think where to park us & the look of relief when I said he wasn’t stopping!! 2019 saw a trip up north to Leyburn & then it wasn’t until this year that we made the trip to Ditton twice – the Open Days & the Retreat. Thank you for sharing your Clarity story with us – my gel plates & stencils are heading for an airing in the New Year as I have stocked up with paint at the weekend.
    Looking forward to the next instalment tomorrow x

  10. So good to look back at how far you’ve come! I remember the stencils being launched and then the Gelli plate (had a disastrous first attempt with one at the retreat!) Onwards and upwards!

  11. Wow…..what an achievement…’s true what they say from little acorns the mighty oak does grow! You must be so proud of what you’ve accomplished, in a relatively short timeframe and quite rightly too👍🏻👏🏻
    I ,like many others, are so grateful to have your company providing us with excellent materials and the entertaining tutorials of how to put them through their paces. So heartfelt thanks for all your efforts, one and all.👍🏻👩🏻‍🎨

  12. You can feel the buzz, energy and excitement in these lovely photos. You are still doing amazing things, such a creative company, lovely, lovely stories may you continue bringing us great products.
    The pottery is looking good too, how you fit it all in amazes me.

  13. Hello Barb, loved this blog post, reading through where you’ve been what you’ve done and achieved is heart-warming. I have been with Clarity for a long time now, and just love the stories and seeing the photos, and working with such wonderful products. It’s about time I dig out my gel plates and stencils and spend some craft me time. Looking forward to the next chapter. Take care and stay warm everyone. Bx

  14. Fabulous instalment bringing back so many memories. I just can’t believe I’ve been with you for such a long time. I seem to recall everyone was travelling at the speed of light back then going further afield and faster. I know the pandemic has a lot to answer for but at least it made us all slow down and re-evaluate our priorities. I really must go and dig out my geli plate, paints and stencils and have a good play. xxx

  15. Barbara it was very interesting to read about your journey. I remember thinking that you were someone special when I first saw you on C & C . Since then I have enjoyed me own journey with your guidance and inspiration. I appreciate that what you make look seamless and easy is in fact the result of hours of hard work. Thank you for all you do and your generosity in sharing.

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