A couple of weeks ago I posted about making your own customized stamps using the amazing new Mint machine by Silhouette. I had so much fun creating things with stamps. I love how they can dress up everything from wrapping paper to pillow cases.
I recently decided to try my hand at making and using block stamps, designs carved into wood or other materials, and I’m excited to share what could easily become a new favorite hobby! Even if you think you have no artistic ability, carving your own stamps and printing by hand is easy and is a simple way to customize and transform almost anything.
Let us show you how!
Stamps are usually carved out of blocks of rubber or linoleum, and both materials are readily available both online and in craft stores. Linoleum is quite hard, and more difficult to carve than rubber, so its widely suggested that beginners start out by carving on rubber blocks. Speedball produces two kinds of rubber blocks that many carvers consider to be the industry standard, the Speedy-Carve and the Speedy-Cut. I was able to find a couple of different sizes of Speedy-Cut blocks at my local Hobby Lobby.
I also purchased Speedball’s Super Value Block Printing Starter Kit, which I also found at Hobby Lobby. It’s a great choice if you’re just getting into the world of carving, because it contains just about everything you’ll need to get started:
- A linoleum carving tool (with 3 carving tips)
- A brayer (special paint roller)
- A paint tray
- Black block printing ink
This kit also comes with a linoleum block for carving, but I opted to use the rubber blocks I purchased instead.
Before you start carving your block, you’ll want to draw or transfer your chosen design onto the block. There’s a couple of ways you can do it. If you have a craft cutter or are good with scissors, you can cut your design out of a piece of paper, and trace the shape onto your block with a pencil. Simple!
If you don’t want to go that route, you can transfer your design by doing a pencil rubbing. First, print your design out to the proper dimensions, then use a pencil to draw along the outline the design, as well as any interior white spaces. Once you’ve done that, flip your design face-side down onto your block, and rub the tip of your pencil on the back of the paper at an angle, rubbing over the entire area of the design. Pull the paper off, and the lines of your design will have transferred onto the block.
Once you’re design is outlined on your block, you can start carving. Use the smallest v-shaped tip to outline the exterior border, as well as any interior shapes that will be “white space”. Then carve the interior white spaces out carefully, and remove any extra material along the edges of your stamp. You don’t need to carve very deep into your block, because the flat surface of your block is the only thing that will have ink on it when you go to use it. Unfortunately, this also means that any mistakes will be apparent when you make an impression, so work slowly and carefully.
When your stamp is ready, use your brayer to apply an even layer of ink to the surface of your stamp.
Press your desired material to the inked stamp, and press firmly and evenly. Carefully peel the material away, and voila!
Let your material dry for several minutes before handling, because that ink is really sticky! :-)
If you love the look and idea of block stamps, but don’t want to try your hand at making your own, you can find block stamps for purchase in craft stores and online. I used this cool block stamp to make a fun tote bag!
I just used a sponge applicator brush to apply fabric paint to the block stamp, then pressed it firmly onto the bag. Because my block stamp was made of wood, I had to reapply the fabric paint for each impression, but even so, it still only took me about 15 minutes to decorate the bag!
The last kind of stamp I experimented with was making my own foam stamps. I found sheets of adhesive-backed foam at Hobby Lobby that I thought would be perfect for making some quick stamps. I also purchased a pack of balsa wood blocks, to serve as the block part of my stamp. I used a diamond shape that I cut out using our Silhouette CAMEO, then traced the design onto the foam sheet using a pencil.
I cut the design out of the foam with an Xacto knife, removed the paper backing, and pressed it onto one of my balsa blocks. I used a foam applicator to apply some craft paint to the foam stamp, then pressed it onto a card. So quick and easy! It definitely doesn’t have the same professional look and feel as the carved stamps, but it also didn’t require nearly as many tools (or as much time!). So there’s definitely merits to both!