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Progress: Stamping hobby becomes home-based business

Sandy Bethea said she enjoys the creativity and relaxation of spending time in her home workshop making cards. (Photos by Ruth Nerhaugen, contributor)1 / 8
After cutting a piece of cream-colored card stock to size, Sandy Bethea uses her “bone” tool to make sure the crease is sharp.2 / 8
Bethea selected a piece of contrasting teal paper and slid it into an embossing folder that will impress a specific design into the paper when put through her “Big Shot” press.3 / 8
Strips of matching teal ribbon are run through a “create-a-sticker” machine that puts a sticky material on the back.4 / 8
Bethea selected a “Happy Big Day” stamp and reproduced the image in a contrasting color on plain paper.5 / 8
A dye cut in the same shape as the stamp is placed over the stamped image and run through the “Big Shot” press to cut out the message.6 / 8
Bethea begins placing elements on the card face, including paper with a decorative balloon image, ribbons and dots.7 / 8
The finished greeting card has all four elements — embossing on the card and the envelope, ribbons and other embellishments, several colors and a stamped message. At the Farmer’s Market it sells for $2.50. 8 / 8

By Ruth Nerhaugen, contributor

Faced with a shoebox full of photographs detailing 10 years of her children’s lives, Sandy Bethea did what more and more women are doing these days: She scrapped them — in books.

Bethea learned the basics at a Creative Memories party in a friend’s home. “I scrapped it all in one year,” she said. Eventually she completed 20 or so scrapbooks detailing family life.

A Hastings native, she and her husband Robert had lived in Red Wing since 1990. A military postal clerk, she retired in 2000 after 22 years in the U.S. Navy and then the Navy Reserves. Her husband completed 30 years in the Navy then worked at the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Red Wing for another 18 ½ years.

As their children grew up and left home, her supply of photos dwindled. Bethea was working at Wild Wings in Lake City, but she also wanted that creative at-home hobby.

A retreat with fellow Wild Wings workers introduced her to card-making about two years ago.

Before long, fellow card-maker Deb Deden pointed out, “We have so many, we should start selling them.”

Bethea found just the spot: The Red Wing Farmers Market. She began setting up there in fall of 2012 as “SanDe Cards and Crafts,” acknowledging her friend Deb although Bethea is selling all her own creations. “She comes and hangs out with me at the market,” Bethea said.

When the farm market moves to Sargent’s Nursery for the winter, she goes with it, spending her Saturday mornings from November until March selling cards and decorated recipe tins.

With the season over until June 1, Bethea’s card-making has slowed down. “I’ve got about 350 cards” in stock right now, she said, including all occasions from birthdays and weddings to births, announcements, get well cards and more.

She knows what she has because Bethea tracks her inventory on her computer. She takes a photo of each card she makes. When one sells, it is moved to a “sold” category and she can decide whether to make another like it.

“Birthday cards go the best,” she said — women’s birthdays first, then men’s. “I’ve sold a lot of wedding cards” as well.

Last fall she became a demonstrator for Stampin’ UP! “I really like their product,” Bethea explained, because the company has products that match, including color-coordinated papers, embellishments, accessories and designs.

For example, there are thin metal dye cuts to match the stamps that have messages on them. They cut perfect shapes using the same press that is used to emboss paper and envelopes.

When Bethea sits down to make a card, her first step is to assemble those coordinated elements.

“I try to have four things in every card,” Bethea said.

•Embossing, which is impressing a design into the paper

•Ribbon or other embellishment

•At least two or three colors

•A stamped message

If she is duplicating a card that has proven popular, Bethea can complete one in 15 to 30 minutes. If she’s developing a new design, it can take much longer.

“Or Deb will come over and I get one card made all afternoon,” she joked.

“It’s really enjoyment to come down here” to her lower level workroom and immerse herself in card-making and stamping, Bethea said. “It’s relaxing, and I enjoy the creativity.”

She’s not doing it for the money, although Bethea admitted it’s nice to make a little money selling cards at $2.50 each.

There’s something else, too.

Bethea smiled. “I’ve invested a lot in supplies and equipment,” she explained, “so I have to keep making cards.”

This spring, she took on another creative venture when she began working at Red Wing Stoneware. She is trimming and decorating at the pottery factory and being trained to work in the store as well.

“Years ago, I had a potter’s wheel and kiln,” Bethea said, but she gave that up when she entered the military.

She also is thinking about branching out as a card-maker, possibly selling packets of cards in addition to individual cards. Right now she is marketing some special order dye cuts of women’s shoes.

Since the summer farm market at the Red Wing Depot doesn’t start up until June, Bethea is doing some craft shows, including a fundraiser April 12 in Zumbrota, and she is giving Stampin’ UP! parties/workshops.

On April 5 she plans an open house at her home for anyone interested in stamping, and she’d like to organize a small “card club” for women interested in doing projects.

Anyone interested can call Bethea at 651-380-8173 or look for her under “Find a demonstrator” on the Stampin’ UP! Website.