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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.


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).


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.


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?


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


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:


( 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! )


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!


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:


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.


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.


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!


( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 15th, 2008 02:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you for sharing :) I am putting this one into my memories :)
Jul. 15th, 2008 02:34 pm (UTC)
Woah, erasers! What an awesome idea. Thanks for sharing!! I can't wait to try this myself.
Jul. 15th, 2008 02:37 pm (UTC)
That's the best part! Just buy a couple of different brands to see which kind you like the best (harder erasers are better for more detailed stamps). The biggest investment you'll have to make is probably the carving tools and away you go! :D
Jul. 15th, 2008 02:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you for posting this.
:) It's a really good tutorial.
Jul. 15th, 2008 03:08 pm (UTC)
Awesome tutorial. You've made me want to try making my own stamps, which until today I would have sworn I had no interest in doing.
Jul. 15th, 2008 05:41 pm (UTC)
Me too!
Jul. 16th, 2008 12:12 am (UTC)
Hehe, do it do it!

Up until recently I had no interest in stamping, and I still don't, unless it's using my own stamps. Store bought ones don't interest me much. But you'll find stamp carving veeeeery addictive ;)
Jul. 15th, 2008 03:37 pm (UTC)
saving this to my memories -- thanks so much for the great tutorial!
Jul. 15th, 2008 03:55 pm (UTC)
I never would have thought of using erasers. What a great (and cheap!) idea. I'm so going to do this.

And, 'serviette'? Excellent, I learned a new language! ;-)

Thanks for posting this!
Jul. 16th, 2008 12:11 am (UTC)
Hehe, new language!

Well I guess we have deviated from English (both the US and Australia) so much that you could call it a whole new language!

Like down here, "fanny" does NOT mean bottom. It means vagina. Which is like a horrible trap for Americans holidaying down here :p
Jul. 16th, 2008 12:55 am (UTC)
My oldest son makes references to Australia having its own language simply because of the Foster's beer commercial; "Fosters: Australian for beer." But the kid hasn't been old enough to drink for very long, so he's still a bit fixated on on the fact that he's allowed beer.
Jul. 16th, 2008 06:28 am (UTC)
You have NO idea how many people asked me about that when I went over to Oregon. "No, it's not the word we use for beer!" *Laughs* And people who asked if I had electricity and running water o.O
Jul. 16th, 2008 03:16 pm (UTC)
And people who asked if I had electricity and running water

Good grief! Now that's funny. And a bit sad.
Jul. 15th, 2008 04:17 pm (UTC)
This is going in memories. Thank you. :D
Jul. 15th, 2008 05:31 pm (UTC)
LOVE this tutorial! I've been admiring your stamps for a while now, and can't wait to start making some cutesy stamps!
Jul. 16th, 2008 06:27 am (UTC)
Don't forget to show us all here if you do!
Jul. 15th, 2008 05:46 pm (UTC)
Cool!! I've got the carving tools, I just need to get erasers now. :D :D :D

Thank you!!
Jul. 16th, 2008 06:27 am (UTC)
Well that's the hardest part out of the way! :D
Jul. 15th, 2008 05:51 pm (UTC)
Awesome! *bookmarked*
Thanks for sharing! ^_^
Jul. 15th, 2008 07:20 pm (UTC)
Awesome tutorial thanks for sharing with the community!
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 16th, 2008 06:26 am (UTC)
Oh yeah, I heard you can get those in some of the dollar stores. I'm jealous!
Jul. 15th, 2008 08:10 pm (UTC)
This and an obsession with Kangaroos make me love Australia more.
Jul. 15th, 2008 11:05 pm (UTC)
That's awesome! -favorited-

Thanks for sharing!
Jul. 16th, 2008 04:34 am (UTC)
I've used rubber material made for stamping like this before -- erasers just sound so much happier! Thanks for the tutorial!
Jul. 16th, 2008 02:52 pm (UTC)
I think I love you. ♥.

I've spent the last three days rummaging thorugh the web for a nice carving template... and now this! Thank you so much!
From now on, you shall be known as teh stamp goddes.
Jul. 16th, 2008 10:21 pm (UTC)
I need a paper crown! (So I can stamp all over it of course)
Jul. 17th, 2008 11:25 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I'll have to try that at some point. Looks like fun, and useful, too!

Also, it's nice to see an Australian tutorial that refers to shops and items that I can actually access, for once :)
Jul. 18th, 2008 04:31 am (UTC)

I'll be doing a supply post in my own journal later, if you want to come over and have a peek, at some places where I get all my crafty stuff :)
Jul. 23rd, 2008 07:20 am (UTC)
wow great tutorial - I have made stamps out of erasers before and they work so good! Hopefully more people will do it now!
( 29 comments — Leave a comment )

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