Since my tutorials are definitely the most popular section of the blog, I’ve begun to go back through old ones to revamp them, fix the pictures here and there, and add any new tips and tricks I’ve learned over the last few years. I won’t be updating them all at once, but when I fix them, I’ll be sure to let you guys know! This one, my rubber stamping tutorial, is fun, easy, and a lasting favorite of mine!
Stamps are great for personalizing everything, from your Etsy shop packaging to holiday gifts for friends and family, but they’re expensive at craft stores! Carving your own stamps makes it easy to get exactly the look you want, plus you can avoid the high prices of premade stamps. They’re fun to freehand if you’re at all artistic, but it’s just as easy to trace an existing design, like I did with the woodgrain pattern stamp I carved.
I find rubber to be much easier to carve than linoleum and would recommend it to beginners. Speedball makes a kit with everything you need, if you’re a begginer.
1. This step is more for those who swear up and down that they don’t have an artistic bone in their body. If you can freehand, go for it. If you can’t, then find an image you’d like using Google Image Search. I used a free woodgrain vector image from All Free Download. Now hold a piece of paper directly up to your monitor, and lightly trace it with your pencil. Please don’t carve a design into your computer screen with a laser-sharp pencil! It should shine through to make tracing simple. Remember to reverse your image if drawing one by hand. You want the stamp to be the mirror image of the finished design.
2. Once you’ve traced the entire image (or finished freehand drawing it), put your paper onto a hard surface, and trace back over your design, pressing very firmly. You want to darken the entire image thoroughly.
3. Now place your image pencil-side down onto your linoleum or rubber block. Using the end of your foam brush, a popsicle stick, or even a spoon, firmly rub all over the back of the paper. Be sure to hold the paper in place and rub over every single spot.
4. Carefully peel your paper back, being sure not to rub it across the block so that you don’t smear your image. If you drew your image on darkly enough, then it should be transferred onto your block now. Do not touch the image because it could still smudge.
5. Insert the thinnest cutting blade into the end of your Speedball tool. The Speedball package includes instructions for installing the blades. Using firm but steady pressure, begin to push forward into the block, tracing along the outside of your pencil lines, cutting away thin strips of the block. Continue until you have traced around all the edges. If you cut too quickly or with uneven pressure, the blade can jump a bit, marring your design. This can actually add to the unique, homemade quality of your stamp, but if you’re a perfectionist, then be careful.
6. Here’s where los gatos took over the project… Anyhow – once you’ve carved around your design, switch to a wider, flatter blade. Carefully, using the same method as before, carve away the unmarked spaces, leaving only your penciled-in design. Do as I say, not as I do, as in, watch your fingers. They should stay behind the blade, not in front, where I have mine in this picture. The blade is sharp, so please don’t lose a finger doing this project!
7. Your design should now be raised, with all the negative space carved away. Feel free to add any freehand additions where you feel like you might want to carve away a bit extra.
8. Using an inkpad or a foam brush and paint, apply color to the entire surface of your stamp. Be sure to only apply a thin layer if using paint, or the paint will bleed into the negative spaces and distort your image.
9. Now, this may seem counter-intuitive, but I like to lay the paper onto the stamp, rather than laying the stamp onto the paper. This allows you to press it very evenly and imprint the entire design, and it prevents the stamp from moving around and smearing your image.
10. If you’re happy with the way your image stamps out, then congratulations – you’re done! If you see some extra raised areas when you stamp it, then use your stamped paper as a guide, and cut away those extra bits until you like your end result.
You can use these to make gift tags, business cards, or to just to pretty up a package! The rubber blocks are pretty cheap, so this is a fun go-to project once you’ve invested the initial $12-14 into the cutting tool. This is a fun project to do with a group, and you could even make sets of stamps and then exchange them. Katie of Lemon Jitters and I made a set together while she was in town visiting, and we had a blast!