Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Stamp Carving Tutorial-- It's Fun!

 After sitting on this block of stamp carving material for a year or two, I finally got off my butt and decided to make a little stamp for my flying girl. Let's show you the process. It's really not that complicated.

First I drew out a little design in heavy #2 pencil. As you can see from this picture, my original plan was to use a champagne cork. I drew a circle around it on the paper so I would know the size for the stamp, but upon further reflection, I decided that the cork was too firm to easily cut into for the delicate shapes I wanted, so I went into my craft drawer and dug out the hunk of soft stamp carving medium. It is MUCH softer and easier to carve. For something of this size, I could also have used a rubber eraser. That is almost as soft and quite effective for rubber stamping.                                                                            
Then I cut out my drawing and pressed it onto the rubber carving medium. I rubbed it firmly so the graphite from the drawing would show up on the rubber. You can also draw straight onto the rubber, but I have learned to remember that you want to draw the reverse of what you want your image to be or your stamp will be backwards, but the graphite rubbing technique will get rid of that problem. I once made a flying girl stamp out of a rubber eraser and she was flying backwards. (Does it really matter? not really, but if she's facing left, she seems to be flying backward in time to me. Don't question my logic.) Then I use my xacto knife to cut my drawing out of the block of rubber. I don't want to waste it, so I cut pretty close to the drawing.

 Now is carving time. I actually have a set of carving tools, but I found that with something this small, the xacto knife works better. I carefully run the xacto knife around the drawing, only going into the rubber about a 1/4 inch. Maybe less. Try also to keep your knife straight, you don't want to undercut your image, because it might crumble after use. I actually started with tiny straight lines, even though it's not that hard to curve the blade, I was playing it safe, knowing that I could go back in and fix the detail later. For that reason, I also carved slightly outside of my drawing. You can remove rubber later, but you can't put it back.
 Then I, very carefully, cut off the excess rubber. I put my blade about 1/8 inch from the top and slowly slid it toward my image that I had already cut around. Be careful not to cut into the image. For the longer pieces, I actually sliced those off in stages, cutting off bit by bit, rather than being macho and trying to get it off in one larger piece. I didn't want to risk it with such a small, delicate image.
 Here she is cut out all the way. Ok that's not a 1/4 of an inch. It's more like a millimeter. Next step is to test it. I took out my little ink pad and gave it a go.

The first stamp I made was the image in the middle. I found the legs and arms to be too blunt and the edges of the stamp too prominent, as they showed up when I pressed. No problem. I went back in with my razor blade and narrowed the limbs, as well as cutting off the edges so they were more rounded away from the image and no longer made marks on my paper. You can see the fixed image in the other stamps.

Ta da. All done. Easier than I thought. If I had picked a simpler image like a heart it would have been easier still.

And here is a bonus image. I still had that champagne cork, so I decided I would make something from that. I'd seen an intriguing scallop stamp among the multiple stamp carving pins on my "projects to try" pinterest board, and since I love scallops, and that's a much simpler shape for the more difficult cork medium, I gave it a go. There's another step if you're carving a cork, and that is to cut off the bottom edge of the cork to make it flat, as the champagne cork is rather rounded on the edge. If you can find a smooth flat cork, you can skip that step. The original scallop stamp tutorial is actually made of wood and a little bit more labor intensive than mine.

I simply drew my scallop edge on the cork, following the round edge, and then sliced it out. It took more effort to cut through the cork, but if you go slowly and carefully, it's not that hard. When stamping, it leaves an interesting texture. The texture wouldn't have worked with the flying girl, but I can use it for the scallop.

I can't wait to see what I can do with my new stamps. I'd like to find a wooden block to glue the flying girl onto, but the cork scallop is ready to go. It might be interesting to use it in my journal, or to make my own wrapping paper, or maybe a scalloped edge decoration. And I'm looking forward to using the flying girl on correspondence or maybe I'll even make my own business cards or stationery.

I can see that this stamp making might be a little addictive. Try it and you'll see.


rtr ullash said...

I’ve cut shooting lanes with the saw blade, tweezed splinters,
tightened screws, opened cans as previously mentioned and cut things with it.
Whatever I asked of it, it did well.

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