How do you make homemade rubber stamps? The process isn’t quite as difficult as you might imagine, and gives you a ton of room to get creative with things like letters, gift wrap, product packaging, and so much more. You can even use similar techniques to create a handmade stamp out of other materials, including foam and potatoes (yes, potatoes!).
If you’re looking for an in-depth course on the topic, check out Create a Hand-Carved Stamp from Scratch, instructed by illustrator and surface designer Melissa Lee. Otherwise, scroll down for a quick tutorial on how to make handmade rubber stamp designs, with simple steps that you can use to create homemade stamps for fun or for your business.
How to Make a Handmade Stamp
You can get a ton of utility out of a handmade rubber stamp. From stamps with your logo on it for custom commercial product packaging to homemade stamps for wedding invitations and “thank you” cards, the sky’s the limit in terms of what you can do with your stamp making skills once you’ve acquired them. Here’s how to get started.
Step 1: Gather Your Supplies
You don’t need too much to create a handmade rubber stamp, but there are some essentials that you’ll want to be sure to have on hand:
Rubber Carving Block: You can use a simple rubber eraser to carve out your stamp, but if you want more control over the size of your stamp (plus more room to play around and make mistakes) then pick up a rubber carving block at your local craft supply store or online—Speedball Art Products makes some great ones. Note that if you do opt to just use a rubber eraser, look for something sturdier than an art gum eraser, since while those are easy to carve they also tend to crumble.
Carving Tool: You can use wood carving tools or even razor blades to carve out your design. You can also buy linoleum cutters that are specifically intended for use on soft printing materials like rubber. Whatever you use, make sure it has a straight blade and offers you the right amount of precision and control.
Ink or Paint: Just as important as your stamp itself is the medium by which you apply it. An ink pad is an easy option for bringing your stamp to life on paper, but you can also use acrylic paint applied with a small paintbrush, or even bleach. Avoid watercolors, which won’t be saturated enough and could weaken your paper, as well as oils, since their heavy pigments can easily degrade rubber.
Other items you’ll need include a computer and printer for making your design if you don’t want to freehand it, as well as an iron for transferring it to the stamp surface.
Step 2: Make and Apply Your Design
You have endless options for the design of your stamp. Depending on your skills and your preferences, you may choose to create your design through software like Photoshop and then print it out with a laser printer. You can also use a pencil to trace your design right on to your rubber block.
If you do decide to go the digital route, stick to black and white and keep your lines thick so that they show up and are easy to carve. Print your image on a laserjet printer, place it image side down on your rubber carving block, and gently press on it with an iron set to medium heat. Hold the iron down long enough to transfer the ink but not so long that you burn or melt the rubber. To be safe, err on the side of minimal pressure and application time then gently lift the corner of the image to see if it’s working. If it’s not, reapply heat.
Step 3: Carve Your Stamp
The most important tip for how to make handmade rubber stamp art: carve out your design slowly and carefully. Keep in mind that the blade of your carving tool only needs to penetrate about 1/8” into the rubber carving block. Any deeper and the rubber may crack or crumble.
Step 4: Ink, Press, and Enjoy
Now that your rubber stamp is completed, you can start putting it to use. Apply ink, acrylic paint, or bleach as desired, and start applying your stamp to paper or other surfaces.
If you’re using your stamp for letting writing, there aren’t any hard and fast rules for where to put handmade stamps on a card. Instead, have fun with the placement, using it to create patterns or designs or as a simple and sophisticated element at the tip of your envelope fold. Handmade stamps are also excellent for making creative custom gift wrapping.
Wondering how to use bleach to stamp handmade cards? For this technique, saturate a paper towel with some bleach and use that as your stamp pad. Just be sure you’re working in a well-ventilated area and that you’re not wearing anything too special. When you’re done stamping, clean off your stamp right away to remove any lingering bleach residue.
Other Types of Homemade Stamps
If you’re making stamps with kids—or if you just want to mix it up and learn a few more techniques—a handmade soap stamp or potato stamp is a great way to go.
How to Make Homemade Soap Stamp
Contrary to how it sounds, these are stamps that you use to stamp into soap—not stamps made out of soap.
Rubber, acrylic, wood, or resin stamps can all be used on soap, with the notable specification that the design needs to be outward facing, instead of carved into the block. Using soap that’s neither too hard nor too soft, you’ll want to place the stamp design side down and use a rubber mallet to tap the design into the soap’s surface.
This technique may require a bit of trial and error, especially when it comes to the soap you use and the amount of pressure you apply to your design.
How to Make a Potato Stamp
This is a great stamp making technique for kids. It won’t be nearly as precise or crisp as a rubber stamp (nor will it last for very long), but the technique is similar: stencil on your design and then carve it out before applying ink or paint and stamping onto a surface.
You can make stamps out of other vegetables too, including carrots and radishes. Just avoid any veggies that are too soft or too watery.
So, how much does it cost to make a custom stamp? Depending on the materials that you use and what you already have on hand it could be totally free. And even if you’re starting from scratch, it’s a low-cost art project with a very minimal investment. Altogether, plan on spending between $10 and $30 for your rubber stamp supplies—or less if you’re using vegetables. Homemade stamp making is a whole lot cheaper than paying someone to make a custom stamp for you, and it’s also a whole lot more fun!
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