Learn How to Carve Rubber Stamps with the Best of Them!
Let’s talk about how to carve rubber stamps! Have you ever thought about diy-ing your own rubber stamp set for your own creative use? Once rubber stamps were only for businesses, but now they’ve progressed into a hobby. The art of making rubber stamps has progressed like gangbusters, raw materials and a handful of tools are all you need!
Learn how to make custom rubber stamps that can be used on cards and other artforms, from the comfort of your very own home!
If you have you considered the possibility of starting from scratch, with a few simple tools, and turning them into tools that can literally stamp out art, this post is for you!
Getting Started: Materials
When you’re making stamps at home, first things first are a flat eraser….just like those you see in art or school supply stores. If you can locate flat, square erasers that works too.
When I was in high school, I took a class that involved printmaking and carving into linoleum to create art prints.The tool I used had a bulbous handle and the middle piece would twist off so I could attach different shaped blades to comply with both shallow and deep spaces.
A good carving tool will include about 5 interchangeable blades numbered from #5 (biggest) to #1 (smallest) This one to the left is perfect for this and you can store the other blades into the handle too, just like the one I used did!
In addition, you’ll also need an x-acto knife, a 12″ ruler, a few pencils, and a sheet of tracing paper (Although I have found that plain printer paper will work too)
Drawing and Tracing Your Design
First step is to measure the piece of rubber you intend on using, and then measure the piece of paper to be used – or just simply trace around the rubber.
You may want to practice your design at first if you’re unsure; start simple with it. You can draw with pencil, or if you’re more tech-savvy you can use a graphic program to create your design (choose a black and white scheme).
Measure the eraser to make sure you have the dimensions accurate if you’re using a computer program.
Place your design face down on top of the rubber square and use something hard and firm but not sharp like a coin and rub it over the paper repeatedly (like one of those scratch-off tickets, same deal). To see how well it’s transferring, lift one corner, and if its not showing keep going and try again.
✏️ With enough pressure applied, the design should “rub off” easily onto the eraser.
Using Acetone to Transfer the Design (Optional)
If you used software to create your image, you can transfer your design onto the eraser a different way. Take your black and white copy of the image and print it off. Now moisten the image using acetone with a cotton ball and push the black side of the image down on the eraser.
Acetone is flammable so take extra precautions when using. Remove the paper from the eraser; the ink /design should transfer easily.
Carving Your Design
Using your carving tool attach blade #5 and begin with the “negative” space. Negative, or just simply dark, space is the part that won’t be showing up in the eventual stamp design.
Smaller, shallower details can be handled with blades #2 and #1.
Make sure to cut at less than a 45 degree angle. Be sure you cut away from yourself (duh!) It does take some practice to get good at. I have found that you do have to carve a certain depth, as if your cut is too shallow, when you go to ink it later on the impression will not look as good.
Blow off the eraser dust periodically using a can of computer duster or similar. Use the X-acto knife to cut away larger spaces that won’t be part of the design. As a linear tool, it will work well for this part where you’re just removing excess pieces.
Mounting Your Stamp
I highly recommend you mount your finished stamp onto a small block of wood as it will prolong its life as well as make it easier for you to apply it to your chosen surface. It’ll also keep the excess ink off your fingers in addition to making it easier to produce a high quality impression every time you create an imprint.
Use strong glue, either from a hot glue gun or some waterproof adhesive, spread it generously across the inner surface of the wooden block piece and press it into the eraser/stamp design. Let cure up for at least 24 hours before you put your new diy-ed stamp to the test.
This is a fun (and cheap!) way to go…just remember to take your time as a mistake may be hard to cover up.
The homemade look of erasers lends itself to some unique ideas. Once you master one stamp, you may find yourself creating another, and another! The possibilities are endless, so take this tutorial to heart and see what you can come up with.
Creative Commons Image Attribution: Images Courtesy of: Bianca Moraes