How to Carve Your Own Stampscomments (2) September 21st, 2008
How I love those bold lines of block printing—the graphics are straightforward and solid! Carving into the linoleum blocks of yore, however, with a limited schedule and a low pain tolerance, is not ideal. The happy medium is in using rubber carving materials that have become available lately, plus cutting down on my latte intake before I sit down to carve.
- Block of carving material (Speedy-Carve by Speedball or Safety Kut by Nasco, or a big pink rubber eraser will work, too!)
- X-Acto or utility knife
- Scrap paper
- No. 2 pencil
- Speedball cutter set—for block printing No. 2 pencil
- Rubber stamp ink pad
- Tracing paper (optional)
The blocks are available in art stores usually with the printmaking supplies. It's cost-effective for me to purchase a larger slab o' material and then cut to size at home with a utility knife.
I recommend testing all of the blades in the kit to see what each cut looks like and feels like on a small piece of carving material, perhaps a 2-inch square piece.
Take the block cutter and carefully insert the blade of choice by screwing it into place on the handle. Start small and slowly. This will feel a bit like you are carving into cheese: It's smooth and the blade will glide through it.
On curves, I recommend moving the block, rather than moving the blade. Play with it—see what you think and how it feels. Slow and steady, please.
Be careful not to let the edges of the blades dip below the surface of the block. It will get stuck, and if you lift up with the blade embedded, you will bring out a rubber divot right in the middle of your design. Keep the blade edges in view while carving.
Hold the block steady from the side and always carve away from your body. These blades are sharp!
At any point, you can ink up the test piece or the design piece to see what it looks like. You can always take more away but can't really put it back in if you take too much.
It's important to remember that with designs, and especially lettering, the finished carving will be a mirror image. Keep this in mind so that when you ink and use the stamp, it will give the proper look. So you'll carve a design that will look backwards but essentially stamp correctly.
Your Signature Stamp
Create your design on paper, in your journal, wherever. Trace the final design onto tracing paper with a No. 2 pencil, using a heavy hand while tracing. Cut or tear the tracing paper to size, and place the design face down onto the carving material. Rub the design onto the the carving block with your thumb nail.
Lift the tracing paper off and voila!
You could also draw your image directly onto the carving block, but remember, it will stamp in a mirror image if you do it this way.
Your image is ready to come to life! Look at it and see how you'd like to carve it. Which parts will need to come out of the block in order to best show your design?
Enjoy! You decide when it's finished. And you can always go back and customize it even more.
After you make this project, show off your work to other members!
Post your project in the gallery