Making hand carved rubber stamps has been one of my passionate crafty projects for many years. As being a Japanese or having Japanese background, having paper – recycled or high quality paper in everyday life and having appreciation and respects with paper and related products like rubber stamps are put in my DNA. People in Japan love to make their own carved rubber stamps and enjoy using them as much as collecting and purchasing all the other cute stationeries…I hope this workshop will help to enjoy making rubber stamps that could be used directly into your dairy life.
(If there are any sentences are not easy to understand, please let me know. I will try to explain!)
Materials: rubber blocks, carving knives (it can be wood carving knives or linocut carving knives), cutter knives (there are various blades. 30 and 60 degreed blades are good for carving stamps), pencils, kneaded eraser, tracing paper, wet tissue paper, paper (a sketchbook to keep your original designs and final images as a rubber stamp, any kinds of paper can be used to make cards, etc), inks (there are various kinds of inks for paper, fabric, wood, metal, ceramics, plastics, etc. please find inks suitable for your projects), cutting board, fabric or other materials can be used!
While you are working: you can work anywhere really…as long as you are comfortable and hold a block and a knife properly. It is probably important to work at some sunny area protect your eyes. It gets quite exhausting!! I personally recommend changing places to work not to keep the same posture for long hours.
Designs: to start with, recommend to start from square shaped designs or circular designs first to get used to carve the rubber. There are lots and lots of hand carved rubber stamp craft books at the Kinokuniya bookstore in CBD so you won’t find it stressful to think of a design! Some people I know use their children’s drawings to make such wonderful interesting stamps. Please try that!
1. Choose a design
2. Trace the design onto a sheet of tracing paper
3. Clean the rubber block. There is powder coated to protect any damages at the factory. But this makes it harder to trace the design onto the block so clean the surface thoroughly. A wet tissue paper is useful.
4. Put very thin layer of ink over the block to help us to see which part is carved. This technique is especially useful when you only carve slightly.
5. Transfer design onto the block. Use your finger to press the tracing paper on the block. The pencil lines will be traced on it as a reversed image.
6. Cut the block carefully and make it into the size that is easier for you to hold and carve.
7. Start carving. One of the easiest ways to carve the block is using several different blades of carving knives. Hold the block on your left hand and hold the knife on your right hand. Also, ring and pinky fingers on the right hand could support the block when you are carving. Placing the block on the table could cause a serious neck and shoulders pain after working long hours. Therefore, I usually hold stamps on my hands and sit straight while I am carving stamps.
8. Test the stamp! Check any changes.
9. Finish! Take all bits of dust or pencil marks if needed with a kneaded eraser. Trim the edges of the stamp, etc.
Key points: Angles what you put the blade into the rubber are quite important. The angle cutting out 45 degrees toward outside to keep lines strong. (Please refer to the demonstration)
There are so many other ways to create hand carved stamps. The process I demonstrated today is one of many ways. For children and beginners, I usually recommend using regular carving knives as carving with a cutter knife could be quite frustrated sometime to keep concentrated.
Some put handles after that. I personally put handles when people requested it. Usually, the rubber blocks I use have 10mm thickness and it is not so difficult to press onto paper. Otherwise, you would be able to use stamp blocks just like linocut when print on paper.
Bits and pieces:
l Print on a piece of fabric? Use versa craft! That is the very best stamp inks I know in the world! Make sure you set the temperature of your iron properly and iron at least 15 seconds. Then, it will set permanently and become washable!! This stamp ink widens your crafty projects with rubber stamps.
l Print on a glass, plastic, wood, leather, glossy paper, ceramic or metal?? Stayz on inks are great for those materials!
l Please do not throw the little pieces! I usually use them to print and create organic shapes or random patterns!
l Be aware that rubber stamps are not eatable…some blocks look like a piece of chocolate or soaps…so please stay with your children if you plan to work with them!!
Thank you very much for participating my little workshop today. I do wish you all had fun working with rubber stamps. If you have any other questions, please contact me. I am also supplying tools, inks and other products designed and made in Japan for these kinds of craft projects.
Please spread the words about this wonderful ways of “handmade”!!