Fat Quarterly Issue 7 is out now! All about colour palettes and where to find help in choosing colours for your projects.

How to carve a stamp

Over the weekend I carved a stamp ready to test umbrella stamping. Carving your own stamp is dead easy. For anyone who hasn't given it a go I highly recommend it. Once you start it is very addictive. Here's a step by step guide for anyone who hasn't tried this yet.
  • Sketch the design you want to make into a stamp.

  • Trace your design using carbon pencil.

  • Turn the traced picture face down on a block of rubber and rub hard all over the design

  • When you lift the tracing paper your design will be transferred to the rubber.

  • Cut your design from the piece of rubber. Cut close to the design to limit the amount of rubber that needs to be removed. However, cutting too close to the design may make your finished stamp fragile. For example, I did not cut between the ladybird's antennae. If I had done so I would have the risk that the antennae may break off the finished stamp.

  • Remove all the white parts of the design (or the black parts). I use a knife to cut around the edges and for small areas. Cut at a 45 degree angle. Don't cut straight down. Make sure that you do not undercut the design (in other words more than 90 degree angle). Cutting at 90 degrees or more significantly weakens the stamp. I use the lino cutter for clearing larger areas. You do not need to cut very deep to get good results.

  • When you are happy with your stamp make a test print. First give it a good blow to make sure all little pieces of rubber are removed. To make sure give it a rinse in water - but leave to dry thoroughly before using. But if you are impatient like me, grab a piece of scrap paper, ink the stamp and give it a go. Depending on your test print, either continue carving or move on to your real project. Afterwards give the stamp a clean with a babywipe.

Blade Runner Stamps sell rubber blocks and ship to Europe. Otherwise keep an eye out for cheap erasers. Often they are large enough for your needs. Recently I have found packs of 4 rectangular erasers in toys r us, woolworths and lidl.

Comment (1)


October 14, 2008 at 11:23 AM

I bought Lena Corwin's book this summer and I am just dying to try this! I love your ladybird, she's adorable.