Making Your Mark
July 11, 2013
When it comes to hobbies, I will admit that my tastes are rather eclectic. However, one of them happens to be a fun and cheap way to make a craft, and sometimes spend a day. I like to make my own rubber stamps. To make a rubber stamp, all you need is a rubber eraser, a pencil, and an X-Acto knife. The only caveat to this craft is that it should probably only be undertaken by ages ten and up, due to the danger of slicing fingers with the knife.
The very first thing that you want to do is acquire a block eraser. I personally like Pink Pearl erasers the best; they’re cheap, work well with the ink, and don’t crumble when you carve them. If you do have a wedged eraser like a Pink Pearl, however, you need to cut the wedges off so that you have a rectangle to work with. From here, you need to decide on the design you would like for your stamp. If you’re the creative sort, like I am, you can trace the eraser block and draw your own design for it on a separate piece of paper. However, an easier method would be to print a small picture off of the Internet.
Once you have the image, color on the back of the paper with a pencil until there is a solid coat of graphite, and then put the paper on the eraser so that the image is face up and the graphite is against the rubber surface. I always recommend taping the paper in place, just in case you need to put the project down and come back to it. Otherwise, the paper will shift, and you will have to start over. Carefully trace over the outline of your image, applying medium pressure. After you are finished, remove the paper and you should see a transfer of your picture on the eraser.
Before starting to carve, I always recommend that you take your pencil and color in the portions of the picture that you want to show up. Next, make sure that none of these areas are very thin – thin lines often prove difficult for beginning stamp-makers. Once you are satisfied, begin to cut out the uncolored portions (or the "negative spaces" for the artsy types). I like to run the X-Acto knife along the outlines and then place the tip into the groove to make a single horizontal slice so that the pieces lift right out. However, experiment to find the technique that you like best. You are going to want your grooves to be somewhere in the realm of an eighth to a quarter of an inch deep so that they do not touch the page when you apply pressure.
Some people like to mount their stamps so that they apply evenly every time. To do this, just get a little piece of wood or some other rigid material, and glue the stamp to it. At the end of it all, you have a truly unique stamp all your own. Go out, make your mark on the world!
Oak Grove Branch