Despite its name, the Museum of Modern Rubber (MOMR) does not house a commemorative collection of automobile tires. This is a museum filled with rubber stamps.
"We call it a museum because our stamps are on the cutting edge of sophistication and design," says Elaine Madrid, a co-owner. "We don't do cute. We make offbeat, clever rubber-stamp art tools."
\o7 Stamping\f7 is the art Madrid and co-owner Jane Beard create, sell and are obsessed with at their Placentia-based gallery.
The museum's 400 original stamps range from a portrait of Georgia O'Keeffe ($10) to a mugging threesome of Larry, Moe and Curly. Andy Warhol's "Pop Can" ($5) hangs next to the museum's most popular items, Elvis stamps (from $2 to $12).
"Four years ago, when Jane and I got into the business, stamp art was just gearing up," Madrid said. "We had no idea how fast the market was growing and changing. Our customers were overwhelmed by Jane Beard's graphics."
Beard's most recent creation, a miniature golf course, is an interactive piece. Windmills, putting greens and pagodas are stamped, decorated, then cut out. To play the course, golfers roll a ball bearing (using a stamped and cut-out putter, of course) into a cup on the green.
According to Madrid, stamping offers much opportunity for creativity. Stampers create bold and intricate postcards, greeting cards or gift wrapping by using pencils or markers to put color on the stamps.
"This is more than stamping a return address on a bill," she said. "For stamp artists, this is an artistic obsession."
No one could be more hooked on the hobby than Kathy Lewis. The mild-mannered Cal State Fullerton math instructor and stamp art instructor is an acknowledged stamp addict who's kept up her habit for six years now. She now has an inventory of 16,000 rubber stamps that spills out of her home office and into her family room.
For her, stamp-art pen pals offer the best method for her to give full play to her skills as well as all those stamps. Instead of letters, they create elaborately decorated postcards.
"The card exchange is a challenge to your pen pal's creativity," she said. "You try to outdo each other and stretch the artistic limits of your ink pad."
At the Museum of Modern Rubber, Beard holds classes for stampers interested in creating holiday cards and items or in exploring avant-garde methods, including jewelry-making and designing art-to-wear T-shirts or ceramics.
Basic supplies, from inks in psychedelic colors to earring posts, are sold there too.
"Today, people use stamps on shoes, lampshades, leather and glass," Madrid said. "So you see, they're not just stamps; they're art."
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday
Address: 187 W. Orangethorpe Ave., Suite C, Placentia
Telephone: (714) 993-3587
Miscellaneous Information: Classes are offered once a month, on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call for schedule.