Most of you don’t know that this is not my first blog. I’ve actually be blogging in some form for almost 20 years! (My first one was before the word “blogging” existed and I was using html to format stuff.) There is a lot of pages that I have lost or abandoned over the years. Several years ago I made an attempt at blogging that I was very proud off, but thought for various reasons (it’s complicated) that I know longer had access to it, and that it was another long lost project. I just found out it isn’t! I was so excited to see a pin on Pinterest that was MY pin from this old blog of mine and that I CAN still access it! So I really want to share this tutorial that I did years ago with you again, here and now. True story, all these years later and some of the designs you see are actually on my current business cards for this website!
This is from a blog I originally did in 2013, and I’m copying my directions and photos here. Forgive me if I miss an edit from the year or something. I do still carve stamps sometimes, and this is still the exact system I use to this day.
(Begin Quoted, and possibly outdated slightly content)
I’ve been using rubber stamps in arts and crafts for
almost 14 years (gosh!) and have been carving my own for 2-3 years. (It’s now been closer to 20 years of using stamps, and carving them for about 7-8) I’m no pro, but I like what I make. Today (at least 4 years ago) I was supposed to use some of my latest carvings to make Valentines with my friend, and she was curious about how I make my stamps. We never did get to make Valentines, we ended up chatting about a million other things instead, but later I decided to carve a new stamp, and make a tutorial.
First I gather my materials. I have the classic stamp carving tool, available at almost all major craft stores, and a stash of erasers. I’ve bought the stamp blanks before, and honestly I like a lot of erasers better, and they’re way cheaper! I usually get erasers at various dollar sections, dollar stores, etc. So far the three pack pictured below of blue and white style is my favorite, and is most like the stamp blanks the craft store sells. I found them at Dollar Tree. That is what I’ll be using for this tutorial. Yes, that giant elephant is an eraser, perfect for if you want to carve a large design. Or an affordable way to get a lot of small pieces for $1.
I also get some paper, usually an index card, and regular pencil. First I trace the eraser onto the paper, so I know exactly what size I’m dealing with.
Then I draw out my design, making sure to leave space on each side.
Then I use the bottom edge of the carving tool, and burnish the design onto the eraser. I just carefully line up the eraser to my outline, then hold my design face down and rub gently.
Then I make sure the design transferred well and lightly pencil on any pieces that got missed, or are just so light they might rub off while I work.
Then I just start carving. Usually I start with the number 2 blade, and just work. Here’s some shots of the carving as I go. I do switch to a number 1 (super tiny) as needed, like in the curly part of the ribbon on this balloon.
Notice how I start AT a line and then trim away from it and out into the area I don’t need. If you start away from the design and work into it you are more likely to accidentally cut off a piece you need.
After the design is mostly ready I do a test stamp. Usually I use a marker to ink JUST the design area, but to show you what is and what isn’t carved I just used an inkpad. What’s red is uncarved.
I check the stamped image for any errors, lines where there should not be lines, uneven lines, gaps in the carving. Lines can be adjusted, but gaps or breaks in the image means it’s no good. I have to either change the design or trash it. I smooth and fix any errors that show up, then I use some of the wider blades to smooth the carving and then the slicing blade to cut away extra material.
Usually at this point it’s done! I stamp another test image, and if any errors show up I fix them, and if not I’m ready to craft!
In order that is the original drawing, the final stamped image, and the actual carved stamp.
These stamps can last a very long time if you handle them with just a little bit of care. Don’t use a stiff brush to scrub off any ink. Don’t keep them bent or they may snap.
Have you ever carved stamps? I’d love to hear about it!!!