The Ultimate Homemade Rubber Stamp
Stamping can be fun on multiple levels. First you and your kids can enjoy making your own ink stamp sets out of various materials. When you've finished crafting these personalized stamps, you can take out some paper and move on to more stamping fun. Here are some tips for making ink stamp sets on your own. Part two of this series will give you a few ideas for stamping techniques, crafts and general stamping fun that can be had by everyone.
A fabulous at home version of the pricey store-bought ink stamp sets can be made by using a number of materials such as cork, rubber, foam, sponge, and even stone. The rubber stamp, made from large rubber or gum erasers, is the one most commonly made from home. The gum version is softer and easier to cut, and can also be purchased in small printing block sizes. Just for fun, you should try out different materials and see which one works best for you. Experiment to see which gives the best ink stamp, which makes the clearest image and which was the most fun to make. Though not as clear, a sponge ink stamp may create a frenzied image that kids will enjoy more than the crisp lines of a rubber stamp.
Rubber stamping techniques
Generally, a rubber stamp consists of a rubber front out of which the design is cut, foam backing, and a handle or back plate. The procedure is simple:
- Copy an image, pattern or picture in reverse onto the piece of rubber. One way to transfer your image onto the stamp is by coloring in the entire picture with a lead pencil. Then turn the image over onto the rubber or gum eraser and rub the back of it. This should transfer the image directly onto the stamp front so it is ready to be cut out.
- Cut out any gaps or indentations within the design. These small gaps can be made using a miniature screwdriver, toothpick, or needle.
- Once the design is complete, you will need to remove the excess material from around the design. It is a good idea to go around the outline of your pattern prior to cutting away the excess. Make a few perfunctory cuts along the face of the rubber. Then slowly and carefully, cut through the width of the rubber until you've reached the pattern. Try to get this area as smooth and level as possible because this will determine the clarity of your ink stamp. Use sand paper to smooth out the surface. You can also use silicone glue to repair any areas or pieces of the pattern that were accidentally cut.
- Next you'll need to glue the cut out rubber design onto your foam or sponge backing layer. This can be left as a square/rectangle or can be cut to fit the exact shape of your ink stamp.
- Finally, attach your base or handle to the back of your foam.
A few tips for making ink stamp projects come out better:
- Choose a pattern with few or no small details. These make cutting out the pattern harder, and more often than not your image will come out fuzzy or imperfect. Same goes for faint or thin lines. Choose bold uncomplicated patterns.
- Here is a creative idea for getting just the right cutting tool. Remove the small top eraser from a standard no. 2 pencil, leaving the metal casing attached to the pencil. Depending on the carving tool you need, you can use the pencil as it is to scrape the surface or dig out large chunks. For finer details, use pliers to flatten the metal casing into a narrower point.
- After cutting away the surface area, press into an inkpad and make a test stamp on a paper. Any color that is transferred aside from the actual lines of your image is an indication that your stamp needs to be cut down further. Repeat this process until you produce a clear image.
- Use caution when cutting. Cut away from your body, and keep your hands out of direct line or close proximity of the blade.
- After transferring the image to your block, go over the faint picture with a dark marker so you can see clearly.
- When cutting out the surrounding surface area, try to bevel the outline of your image. This will give you clearer lines and a crisper stamped image.