Wednesday, January 18, 2012

DIY: Stamp Carving Tutorial

It's no secret that I'm addicted to rubber stamps; I love 'em! I use them for my polymer clay designs and for art journaling and ATC/ACEOs. But sometimes I can't find a design I really want, especially if its pagan themed. So I decided to try my hand at carving my own stamps.

  • linoleum cutter with different blade sizes (I used Speedball Linoleum cutter)
  • Speedball Speed Carve- this is a flexible pink block, similar to rubber but easier to carve
  • ink jet printed design image
  • burnishing tool (you can use the back of a spoon)
  • iron set on low heat
  • tracing paper
  • carbon/graphite paper
  • tissue blade
My design was going to be fairly small, so I didn't need to use the entire 3 x 4 inch block of Speedy Carve; I measured it into 4 sections and used my tissue blade to cut it into pieces.

Next I took one of my sculpting tools and used it to burnish my ink jet image onto the Speedy Carve. I was satisfied with the faint image that transferred, but the instructions for the Speedy Carve say that you can use an iron set on low heat to help transfer the image if needed.

If you're not using a printed image, use tracing paper to copy the image you want to use first, then place the graphite paper face down on the Speedy Carve with your tracing on top, and trace the image again to transfer it onto the surface of the block.

Next, I used the #1 liner tip on my Speedball cutter to carefully cut the edge around my image. You will want to carve from the inside of the image to the outside, because the more you continue to carve, the more delicate your surface becomes. By carving the most delicate areas inside first, you have plenty of density in your material and don't have to worry that it will break or tear while you're carving.

Work slowly and in small sections. You don't need to carve out large pieces of the block at a time, especially if your image has small details. I found that it helped me make curved lines smoother if I held the blade stationary and turned the block slowly as I carved, instead of trying to move the blade and keep it steady as I carved.

Below, the outline of my image is starting to take shape as I edge it with the #1 liner tip.

Once I had the outline carved, I switched to the #2 V-gouge tip and deepened my outline. Then I switched back and forth between the #3 large line and #5 large gouge to remove more of the block from around my image, until I had it the way I wanted it.

NOTE: I'm planning on using my stamp for polymer clay, which needs a more deeply cut image to produce a well-defined imprint. If you are using your stamp for inking to stamp on paper, you won't need to carve as deeply as I have to get a nice, clean image.

And here is my finished stamp! For a first try, it didn't come out half bad. I am excited to experiment with it and see how it works on polymer clay. Hope this tutorial is helpful to those who want to give stamp carving a try.


Bewitching Dreams said...

That turned out so great! What a neat idea and a wonderful way to put the images you want into clay. :)

Dori said...

That is wonderful. It doesn't look difficult but I bet it is a little.

Witchfire said...

I love my stamps too, and I'm a big fan of lino prints! Still need to get my flexicut tool kit. Course when we students compared print making/relief to stamping, our teacher didn't appreciate it. lol. But it's the same thing; it's glorified stamping :-)

It really isn't that difficult, just takes practice, focus, and patience. From a print makers POV, I'd suggest looking at linocuts and exploring the different techinques. One could come up with some really great stamps/pieces! ~)O(~

Witchfire said...

Sorry, not flexicut--that's for woodcarvings (which i already have), I meant the set you have. I heart that set and recommend it to anyone who's just beginning. It's a wonderful tool set.

Līvija Šteinbrika said...

wow you really don't save carving block
I would make it in half of your stamp :D