Art Retreat Day 3: Create Your Own Stamp!

By 5/01/2014

This morning we gathered around the crafting station and learned how to carve our own rubber stamps! This is easy and anyone can do it.
I think this would be a great project to do and is great for all ages. Although there are some sharp tools involved, it is best for kids who are old enough to handle sharp tools.
Materials Needed:
1. Rubber. You can use a cheap dollar store eraser, Speedball rubber, Moo Carve rubber, or whatever brand you prefer. We used Moo Carve rubber since it tends to not crumble. You can buy it at Dick Blick (or other art stores) and 
2. Carving Tool - I'm using a Speedball no. 37 Linozips safety cutters (pictured below) The bottom screws off to store the small blades, how nifty!
3. Paper, pencil or transfer paper

Step One:
Do a few sketches of ideas of what you want to do for your stamp. If this is your first time, stick with something simple, bold shapes and thick lines such as a heart, or a star. I was feeling pretty confident today (I am an over achiever) and decided to do a stamp of Donut the bunny, so mine's a bit more detailed.  The Linozips safety cutters is really simple to use. Just loosen the wheel on the handle so that it creates a space to slip a blade in. Then tighten it back to secure the blade in place. The blades are sharp, so be careful when changing them out. Any blades that you are not using should be placed inside the handle compartment.
Step Two:

Make a line drawing, or print out your artwork. Make sure to reverse/mirror your image, especially if you have any words in your design. The stamp rubber can come in different sizes, or you can get a large sheet and cut it into smaller pieces. Today we are working with a 2" x 3"  piece.
Step Three:

Transfer your drawing onto the rubber. You can use transfer paper, but I didn't have any with me, so I just took a soft lead pencil (a 3B is what I had on hand) and scribbled all along the back of my drawing/image. Then, flip it over, have the scribbled side against the rubber, and trace along the lines of your drawing. This will transfer the image to the rubber. 
Step Four:

For good measure I traced my image with an ink pen to make the lines sharper and distinguished. Place your rubber stamp on a small plate, this will help contain all the debris for easy clean up. Then I took my smallest tool nib and started to carve in the negative space around the main image to get a good feel of the tool. Move the tool around, make curves and get use to using the tool before you go in and do any detailing. You don't need to dig into the rubber, just put slight pressure and let the tool drag along the surface.
Keep in mind where the ink is going to contact. Anything that is recessed will not have ink, therefore will not appear on the paper or whatever you stamp on. 

Step Five:
Every now and then, as you are carving and getting more details, feel free to ink up your stamp and try it out to see how it looks. If there are any areas that need more carving, you'll know. Just be careful because anything you carve out, you can't put back. On thicker pieces of rubber, you can do another design on the other side too!

Ta-daaa! In most of the prints it doesn't look like Donut has much of a nose, so I'll try to get in there and define it a bit more (or press harder on inked stamp?) as well as whittle away more of the negative space. Although I kind of like it, it looks like a woodblock print, it has a nice edgy look to it. You can also cut around your stamp design to get rid of all the extra rubber and then glue it onto a block of wood. This project only took a few hours. This is a great rainy day project. This was also way easier and quicker to do than I initially thought. I think I will be making more stamps in the future! 
'Til next time!
Edit: This post was from March 2014, uploaded from our old site.

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