Learn How to Carve Rubber Stamps!
Have you ever thought about diy-ing your own rubber stamps 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!
How Are Stamps Usually Made?
The most cost effective approach involves vulcanizing. This in a nutshell, involves designing a rubber mold into which raw rubber stamp gum is poured into. A press is used to form the design. Lots of stamps can be produced with one mold, making it a pretty inexpensive strategy -with the exception of creating the plates.
Then there’s laser engraving, which is best for one-off designs…the product formed has a uniform thickness without flaws or blemishes…which is great for images that have a lot of detail. It can produce beautiful stamps, but….start up costs are higher.
Thirdly is through the use of liquid polymer…..this too, is extensive, and may incur some pricey equipment. However….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?
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.
For a cutting tool… x-acto knives and box cutters are not recommended…those tools are better suited for linear angles. You need something that will allow you to cut different depths into the rubber. 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, This tool to the left is perfect for this and you can store he other blades into the handle too, just like the one I used did!
So…Linoleum cutter, Eraser(s), Tracing paper, Pencil or pen and a 12″ ruler.
(Optional) Acetone -also commonly referred to as nail polish remover
Drawing and Tracing Your Design
You may want to practice your design at first if you”re unsure; start simple with your design. You can use a pencil or pen, 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 and adjust the sheet of tracing paper to make sure you have the dimensions accurate You want to be sure the design you draw is in sync, size-wise, with the size of the eraser.
Take your drawing and flip it over and place on top of the eraser. Now grab a simple blunt object, such as a penny, dull knife, etc., and rub it over the design.
Using Acetone to Transfer the Design
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 will have transferred to the rubber eraser.
Using your carving tool cut away the non-inked spaces on the eraser so you will end up left with the design in a raised surface.
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.
What are the costs? You can make a handmade rubber stamp for just under $10. Estimates for supplies: 75 average for a wood block, 50 cents for the eraser apiece, the cutting tool, averages 5-6 dollars, acetone, 2 dollars….Excellent considering that your stamp can be used over and over.
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