How to make a stamp: hand-carving tutorial
Have you ever wanted to know how to make your own stamp but didn’t quite know how to begin? I discovered this craft about 4 years ago and I think it has become my favourite craft ever. It is just so useful to know how to make a stamp- you can use them for card making, scrapbooking, on linen, on ceramics, to personalise an event like Christmas or birthdays, to stamp your books with an ownership mark like a library, and give them as gifts. Plus they are super cute!
This is what you’ll need.
From left to right: baking or freezer paper for making stencils, a pencil, some stamping spots (these ones are from Stampin’ Up) or stamp ink pads, some rubber erasers (from variety or dime store), a sharp scalpel knife used for scrapbooking (Kmart, Big W and Walmart sell a range) , a Speedball lino cutting tool (in red), corks and you might also like some professional rubber for stamping too (the pink rectangle) called Speedy Carve.
I like to use these Stampin’ write markers too. They are great for colouring in stamps that require more than one or two colours.
You might be tempted by lino cut tools from the local art shop as I was. They are cheaper than a speedball and you get 10 or 12 tools in a pack but they don’t cut as smoothly as I would like and are hopeless for fine detail. Invest your money in a quality product and buy the Speedball tool (I have them in my etsy shop) and a few speedball attachments instead. You’ll have only one tool to store (the attachment blades can be stored in the handle for safekeeping) and they work wonderfully.
I store my stamps in a plastic sewing box. Perfect! This one cost $4 from my local cheap shop/dime store.
And a pile of sticky notes never goes astray. You can stamp them with a design (these make lovely little thank-you gifts),
or use them yourself as you test out all your potential stamp designs. Here I’ve drawn a cupcake, ready to show you how to carve stamps.
Take a piece of baking/freezer paper and trace your design onto it.
Turn the freezer paper over and press the design onto a piece of eraser rubber. Use the back of your pencil to transfer your design. Press firmly to ensure all details come through clearly.
The pencil line is what will become your stamp. I should have shaded in the heart shape, as I want the full heart shape as part of my stamp. (If I only wanted a heart outline as shown, I’d have to carve inside the heart too, leaving just the pencil outline of the heart shape for the ink).
I like to carve out my interior details first. This leaves a nice solid base for my outer lines that I will cut later and if I slip at all, I can adjust and widen my outer line as needed. This tip saves me throwing away stamps I couldn’t otherwise rescue.
Begin at one end and in one nice sweep, carve out as much rubber as you can, following the line of your design.
Here you can see I’ve cut around the icing, and around the heart shape on the cupcake.
Then, carefully carve out the rest of the cupcake top. The trick is to be sure of what result you want so you know which areas to carve and which to leave. The heart design will be seen on the stamp.
Then carve out the cupcake wrapper. The areas in pencil will be seen. This is a V blade so I can push the tip of the V into the rubber (as shown) to make my first cut and then gently push it from behind to make a smooth channel.
Finish off by carving out the candlestick and candle too.
When all the interior rubber has been carved out, use your scalpel knife to reduce the size of the stamp.
To complete the stamp, we need to remove the rubber that surrounds the design. Begin at one end, making an incision in the rubber.
Strive to cut the rubber in one continuous movement, following the outline of the design and using your other hand to rotate the rubber as you carve. When you have gone as far as you can, run your tool off the side of the rubber and remove the piece you have just carved.
Begin at a new place on the edge of the rubber (here I started at the candle tip and went right) and carve as long a channel as you can around the next part of the outline.
When you design is completely outlined in a channel, take your scalpel and begin slicing off the excess rubber. Take care at this point. You don’t want to accidently cut off any of your design.
If you find a channel is not deep enough, use the tip of your scalpel to go over it.
Slice into the rubber about 2 or 3mm in depth on a horizontal line until you reach the channel.
The slice should then lift off smoothly.
Do this slicing technique around the entire design.
To check your design, press a dark coloured stamp pad (I use red) onto the design.
Press your stamp onto a piece of scrap paper. This is where you can see where you will need more work and adjustments. On my design, you can see I want to tidy up and straighten my cupcake wrapper lines, the right edge of the cake base, around the heart and a little on the candlestick.
Use a combination of your scalpel and your speedball tool to correct any imperfections as much as possible. Be kind to yourself. The beauty of a handmade stamp is in the imperfections and the human touch. It is not supposed to be a laser-cut stamp! It is something from your heart. Quirky. Remember quirky.
I used two stamp-pads to make a multi-coloured stamp. Red for the icing and candle, and orange for the base with a little overlap of course.
Later this year, I will be releasing my book on the “Creative Process” called ‘The MamaMoontime Club: Create, and Love Life” and there is a whole chapter on hand-carved stamps, including where you can find heaps of inspiration, resources, design ideas, tools, how to colour in your stamps for multicoloured stamping fun, and more! (There will also be something extra special that will accompany the book release! It’s a bit secret squirrel at the moment, but it won’t be long until I can share the details with you. Leave your details here if you want to stay in the loop.)
I hope you love stamping as much as I do. It is probably my favourite crafting ever.