How to Carve Your Own Stamps

comments (2) September 21st, 2008     

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FriendyWendy Wendy Sloneker, contributor
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These are supplies and samples.
Carve away from your body. Hands out of the way too, please.
Check in on the status of the carving by inking it up. You can stamp it at anytime, too!
These are supplies and samples.

These are supplies and samples.

Photo: Wendy Sloneker

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.

Materials

  • 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.

Blocks and Cutters.


Here are slabs of carving materials and a few cutters. Also shown are samples of previously carved stamps used with paint and/or ink. Clean them up after with baby wipes—alcohol free, please.

Test Drive
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.

Curve Appeal
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.

Carving away from the body!


Point the blade away from the body with your hands  bracing the block from the sides. Lift up the blade as you get to the end of the line you are carving and lift out the excess material.

Safety
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!

Check your work. Anytime you want to.


Check in on the status of the carving by inking it up. You can stamp it at anytime, too!

Status Check
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!

Rubbing the pencil design onto the block.

 

The image on the right is the original from my journal, a segment from my dog clothes line (a superhero cape for my weiner dog). On the left is the traced image being rubbed onto the carving block.

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.

Did you make this?
After you make this project, show off your work to other members!
Post your project in the gallery
 
posted in: paper, scrapbook, paint, stamps

Comments (2)

JhenniK writes: This proved to be lots of fun! The possibilities are endless and what a way to customize nearly ANY surface. Yeah!!
My favorite jacket held a small stain so creating a fun southwest block print and stamping over the offending stain worked miracles!!
Posted: 11:38 am on September 27th
Jen_W writes: Great post, Wendy! I've been curious about how to make my own stamps! If only I could draw...
Posted: 2:50 pm on September 21st
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