How to Make a Stamp

There are many different ways to make your own stamp. You can use a number of materials—foam board, heavy weight card, potatoes, woodblock, and rubber, just to name a few. If you want to have a permanent stamp, a potato is not something you want to carry around forever…but it’s fun to experiment using different mediums to explore what you can achieve with each. Below you’ll find instructions to make a stamp with rubber, our medium of choice.

Things You Will Need

  1. A piece of rubber (this can be an eraser—Magic Rub works well—or a block of rubber, found in good art shops)
  2. A linoleum block carving tool
  3. A stamp pad
  4. A pencil
  5. A few pieces of paper
  6. A ballpoint pen
  7. A bit of an imagination or good source book

Things to Remember

  1. Remember, tools are sharp! Please exercise care and supervise children.
  2. If you are working with younger children, you may wish to use a WASHABLE ink pad. These can be easily found at hobby stores.
  3. When considering your design, remember that you will be working with a MIRROR IMAGE if you are drawing directly onto the rubber. Lettering has to be carefully drawn out in reverse.
  4. Firm rubber is easier to work with than soft rubber. Softer rubber can tear, leaving a jagged edge.
  5. A sharp knife gives a cleaner edge than a dull blade.

Getting Started

InitialDrawingSit down somewhere comfortable with a pencil or pen and piece of paper and come up with a few ideas. Play around with a theme—and if this is your first attempt, try to keep it simple. If you start with something very complicated you might get frustrated when it does not come out perfectly.

sketchOnRubberOnce you are happy with your drawing, trace the image onto the piece of rubber. An alternative is to moisten your rubber and transfer the pencil drawing by pressing the rubber onto the drawing. This also reverses the image for you! Make sure the letters are in reverse and when the stamp is held in front of a mirror, the letters are read correctly. If the image comes out very lightly on the stamp, use a ballpoint pen to darken the tracing.

Carving the Stamp

CuttingStampDetail2Cut the small, detailed pieces out first and then work on the big pieces. The big pieces support the rubber while you cut it, so save those until last!

When cutting a curve or circle, it’s easier and makes a nicer shape if you keep the blade in one place and move the rubber. When cutting out the big pieces, you might want to leave some rubber in place. This gives the look of a woodcut and breaks up any large white area, usually making it look more interesting. Remember, once the rubber is cut, it cannot be put back.

You now have a piece of rubber onto which you have cut a nice pattern, scene, or shape. It is time to test the stamp. Brush the loose bits of rubber off the stamp and blow on it to remove all unwanted pieces. Take your piece of rubber and put it on the stamp pad, making sure the stamp gets a full and even coat of ink. As this is the first impression you’ll be making, you will notice any areas that are left void of ink. If necessary, put the stamp back on the pad for another coating.

Now carefully place the stamp on a clean piece of paper and push on it evenly and firmly. Remove the stamp carefully. If you push down too hard, the rubber stamp may get pushed out like dough and leave smudgy edges. If you aren’t careful when lifting the stamp, you might smudge. Be careful to get the cleanest image possible.

Take a look at the picture you have made. Look at all the edges to see if they are as even as you want them and the curves are smooth enough for you. Make a circle around the bits you want to change and CAREFULLY figure out where on the stamp those changes need to be made.

 

MakingStampImpression

Remember: When looking at the stamp, it is a MIRROR IMAGE of the picture you are now working from. Make the changes and make another impression of your stamp. Are you happy with it? If not, what would you need to change to make it better? Make those changes on the stamp you have created, or start over if necessary.

If you like your stamp, great. You have a stamp that you can either use as your “signature” when you go out questing or for a box you plan to put out. Or for anything else you want to stamp for that matter! You might want to write TOP on the back of the stamp so you know when making an impression that the stamp is the right way up.

stampSketch

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Beth Roy

Food & Farm Manager

Valley Quest, Food & Farm

 802-291-9100 x105

Valley Quest, Food & Farm

— Beth Roy, Food & Farm Manager

Beth leads Vital Communities' Food & Farm team, including its Upper Valley Farm to School programming, and also oversees Valley Quest. Before joining Vital Communities, Beth Roy worked in the environmental and place-based education fields for 17 years in various positions around New England including at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science and as the Director of Education at the Nature Museum in Grafton, Vt. Beth is also on the boards of the Vermont Science Teacher Association (VSTA) and the Vermont State-Wide Environmental Education Programs (SWEEP), a coalition of dozens of individuals and organizations promoting sustainability and environmental education in Vermont. Beth is a New Hampshire native and lives in Hartland, Vt., with her husband and two children. When Beth is not working you will find her exploring the woods around her home with her family or cooking up a new taste test (made of local foods, of course!) for her children.