Making an Impression: Stamps!

Monday, February 11, 2013

This year, one of my New Years Resolutions was to learn more. At the top of my list was to revisit something I did when I was quite little - stamp carving. I remember carving stamps out of potatoes (does anyone else remember this?!) and lino blocks. I remember the fun of stamping all over table cloths, and making stamp prints all over wrapping paper - and the fun of knowing that the design is all yours because you carved it. Just like that.

So when I read that Gennine D Zlatkis (one of my favourite bloggers) had released her first book Making an Impression, I pre-ordered my copy. I was beyond excited.

I'm delighted to tell you now that the book is fabulous. It's everything I wanted from it : a glorious collection of paper ephemera and eye-candy. I already know how to carve stamps, but this book goes beyond that to inspire you with new designs, new ways of stamping, and new ideas.

I also ordered some of the "proper stuff" for stamp carving - speedycarve rubber blocks. They took a month to arrive, but have finally come through the letter box this afternoon.

That's some really great timing: I've been whittling away at rubber blocks for a few weeks now, doodling designs onto erasers and other carve-able materials to practice.

There have been little bits of rubber all over the house.
I've discovered some stamp-making dos and don'ts too.

Don't carve towards yourself.
Your thumb is not a rubber block. Ow.
Do get lots of plasters.
Do spend a bit more to get sharper, more precise lino blades.
Do buy 50p giant erasers for carving practice before switching to the £10 carving blocks.
Do ink your block while carving - it's good to see what the impression is going to be like as you progress.
Don't panic if it doesn't work. It's ok. Try again.

I've been free-hand drawing straight onto the carving blocks - I found that the lines are easier to follow and feel more natural when they're your lines. I've got feathers, leaves and mushrooms so far. I started small.

Now, after all this practice, I'm ready to move on to the big stuff. The proper stuff. I'm ready to make Big Stamps. I really want to make a variation of Gennine's butterfly stamp which I plan to colour with watercolours and inks, and I've bought some archival ink so I can stamp straight onto wood. I love this do more resolution.

I'm particularly thankful for these blocks of wood. They're off-cuts, thanks to the lovely Lisa of Abbey Antiques who restores the most beautiful furniture and treasures. I'm going to sand the edges down and make them into mounting blocks for the Big Stamps.

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  1. Wow! That sounds fab! Can't wait to see more of your creations - the Mushroom looks amazing.

    1. Thanks Claire! I've also just realised that my fine V tip is not that fine at all. A replacement is in the post, looking forward to carving lots of detailed images :) The mushroom reminds me of Dr Seuss's Green Eggs & Ham! x

  2. you're really good at this! I bought a lino cutter at Harrogate last year and a piece of lino but haven't tried it yet so thanks for the tip about trying it on a rubber first.

    1. Haha, I have a lot of potato-carving practice :) Thanks. Glad you're going to give it a bash! Looking forward to seeing your results over on your blog x


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