Two Cheese Please (twocheeseplease) wrote in craftgrrl,
Two Cheese Please
twocheeseplease
craftgrrl

How to: Hand carve rubber stamps

since I've just written up a stamp carving tutorial for two lovely ladies over at swap-bot.com I thought I would share it with the rest of my lovelies over here!


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You will need:





1. Regular kitchen paper for transfers.
2. Ink pad.
3. Pencil (a regular one will work better for this than a mechanical pencil)
4. Erasers.
5. 6. 7. Carving tools.

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Here's a closer look at the tools I use. There are of course a lot of other shapes and sizes, but these are the ones I prefer. I will be using the v-gouge for practically every step.

5. V-shaped gouge tool.
6: 5mm chisel tool.
7. 1 inch chisel tool. BIG DADDY!

A note on the carving tools:
These are very sharp! Even the v-shaped ones are sharp. They may not look like it but you should treat them the same as a knife blade or chisel.
The v-shaped ones are used like a gouge, and the chisel-shaped ones can be used something like an exacto knife (which, if you have an exacto at home, you might like to try it out too! My favourite tool is the gouge but a lot of people like a blade better so see which kind you like the best).

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Here's a closer look at the erasers (for any of you Aussies who want to know where to get some cheap, quality carving material).
These babies were ONE DOLLAR at the Reject Shop! They carve like butter <3

So get yourself somewhere comfy. Unwrap an eraser and check it for bumps – you want your printing surface to be smooooth. If you find any, you can use the other side or use a little acetone (like nail polish remover) on a tissue to gently rub across the surface and that should smooth things out.

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Pick a design! This is the fun part!





If this is your first time, pick something simple like a solid shape, letters are more complex and fiddly. Feel free to use the cupcake - depending on what size you make it, it's around beginner-intermediate level.

The best thing about stamp carving is even if you’re not a great artist, everything automatically looks cute when made into a stamp!

Something to remember is negative vs positive imaging. Do you want the cupcake to print as a solid image or as an outline? Do you want the cupcake to print (no background) or do you want a cupcake-shaped void in the middle of a printed background?


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This is my cupcake at actual size, in case anyone was interested. It's a really wee Wee Stamp!


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Using tracing paper (my transfers are drawn onto regular kitchen paper), draw your design then transfer it onto your eraser. Remember to transfer it on backwards if you’re doing text! You want the eraser to have mirror-writing so when you stamp it will come out the correct way.

If you are confident you could just draw straight onto the eraser!

Now you will have an eraser that looks like this:





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( This is about all I use Big Daddy for - cutting up erasers so I can get multiple stamps out of them. That's one huge carving tool! )





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Now to carve. Another great thing about this craft is erasers are so cheap! So don’t worry if you mess up or decide you don’t like it!





The MOST IMPORTANT thing to remember when carving is you want to a) carve away from yourself (no slips! Don’t want your carving tools cutting into your hand!) and b) to not under-cut your image.


This is undercutting:
   \---/


You want to cut on an outward slope from your design like this:
   /---\


This particular brand of eraser is nice to carve – carves like butter. You will see what I mean when you first try, so you don’t need to use a lot of pressure! It’s more like drawing into the rubber with a sharp ‘pen’.

Carve gently – you can always carve more but you can’t un-carve!

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Carve all around your stamp as well, right to the edges of your eraser so that your image is raised up from the rest of the eraser, like this:




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When you think you have your design the way you want it (don’t stress too much about this. Like I said, part of the charm in hand-carved stamps is the handmade nature of them!), do a test stamp. If there are places you need to carve down more, you’ll find them once you do a test stamp.





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And that’s all! Now you can stamp away to your heart’s content!





I've stamped mine onto sticker dots to use on packaging and letters and the fridge and my organiser and....

Yeah, stamping can be addictive. Don't say I didn't warn you!



Caring for your stamps:

After each use remember to clean your stamp as soon as you can.

Run them under the tap (faucet) under warm water, then blot them on a serviette (napkin – now you can learn Aussie terms too!). If ink prints off, wash them again and stamp on the serviette some more, repeat until no more ink comes off.

NEVER RUB ACROSS THE SURFACE OF YOUR STAMP! This can break off details.

If you use a strong colour like black or red, sometimes the ink will stain your stamp. Don’t worry – if you clean it properly it won’t transfer the next time you use it, just the rubber will be stained. It’s the sign of a well-used stamp! :)

Leave on a clean dry serviette to dry, then store your stamps in an air-tight container with the carving facing up.

If you follow these steps your stamps should last a long time!


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I hope you enjoyed learning about how I carve my stamps! I’d love to see pictures of any stamps you make, or answer any questions you have about my tute or stamp-carving in general, so please don't be shy!

Tags: stamp making
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