A few years ago I experimented with making stamps using cork and foam. I found it very enjoyable, but a bit limiting in terms of the types of images and patterns I could produce given the materials. Around that time, a friend gave me a stamp cutting kit, which included a cutting tool and a block. I was intimidated by it I let it sit for years, waiting for the “right” idea for a stamp and never dared to open it. Recently, though, having seen some truly beautiful stamps on Pinterest, I decided to take the plunge with the kit, and I am so glad I did.
How to Cut Your Own Stamps
There are many ways to create amazing stamps without ever buying special supplies, but I will talk about found object stamping and using other materials in another post. For this project, I used a Speedball cutting tool and block, a pencil, and scissors. The kits cost about $9 at the craft store, and unless you are working really big, they should yield several stamps.
(I’ve since discovered Moocarve, an even nicer surface for stamp cutting and block printing. I still use the lino cut tools from Speedball though.)
1. Draw a Picture or Pattern
For this stamp, I found an image I liked and used it as inspiration for my stamp. It was circular in shape, so I began by tracing a jar. Next, I drew this algae-like pattern, or as someone called it, the “alien hand,” on the block. You can also trace or draw an image on tracing paper and transfer it to the block, but I prefer to draw freehand when I can because it saves me a step. Remember that if you are using text it must be a mirror image, or it will be backwards in your finished product. There’s a good tutorial on transferring images from tracing paper to the block here.
2. Cut Your Stamp
Now comes the fun part: cutting the stamp. Start with a light touch and you can always go over an area more than once. Once you take something away though, there’s no putting it back. When the interior of the stamp is all cut out, then trace around the very edge of your stamp a few times so that you have a line to follow when you cut your stamp out of the block with scissors or a utility knife.
3. Test Print Your Stamp and Adjust
With the test print, I can see any areas I want to adjust. On the right side of my journal page below, you can see where I did several test prints. I trimmed and adjusted a bit at a time and then re-tested the results. I have noticed that it’s important to see the stamp on the page all on its own, but also as part of a pattern. Sometimes a stamp that I dislike on its own makes an amazing pattern. This stamp is a fine example of that. You may remember this stamp below from my art journaling video – it was one that I didn’t especially care for all by itself, but I found it created great texture when repeated and overlapped. This is the beauty of art – it teaches you how to take your “mistakes” and turn them into successes.
No matter what you are making, taking time to be creative is excellent self-care. Stamps are great for use in art journaling, card making, and print making. Experiment and have fun! If you are looking for some inspiration for stamps, I get lots of ideas on Pinterest, you can follow my Printing and Stamping board here. You can also check out Nora Clemens Gallo‘s Etsy page, her stamps are amazing works of art, full of detail and whimsy.
What’s your latest art journaling or self-expression adventure? Have you ever tried stamp cutting? What’s inspiring you? Give it a try and then share your results in the comments!