DIY: Hand Carved Custom Stamps

Atop the chopping block kitchen counter tops of my childhood home, I remember cutting large graphic patterns into the raw meat of halved potatoes. These block prints, though lacking in shelf life, printed beautiful bold designs.

Continue this rooted tradition (yeah, TLC is full of this kind of charming wit) in its more permanent and durable form with readily available and easy to carve rubber printing material. Most local craft and art supply stores, equipped with basic printmaking supplies, stock the necessary tools to create handmade stamps for your hand made crafts.

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I’ve grown fond of MasterCarve products by Staedtler. The material is easy to cut down to size and carve without crumbling. Traditional rubber erasers work as well but some brands break apart as you cut into them. Also, note that the rubber erasers found on the end of a typical #2 pencil work great for adding dots of color.

Once you’ve decided on your handmade stamps material, you’ll need the appropriate tools to carve your design. The poor man makes due with a typical exacto knife or razor blade (easy enough when carving larger patterns). I like to use the carving tools packaged for linoleum and rubber printing as they make for easy cuts and allow for more detail if desired.

For this type of printing, large pattern handmade stamps print better than those with fine lines. Consider starting with geometric shapes like squares, circles or thick lines. Often a simple stamp, once printed, creates the most engaging design. And keep in mind that imperfection is beautiful. I will always prefer the character of a lopsided circle to a perfectly round one. Remember that the material carved away leaves the design you’ll print and that all images will print in mirror image. (This is especially important when carving letters or words.) For stamp ideas and examples of illustrations using handmade stamps, visit our unique gift shop.

When printing, you’ll need to consider inks and your printing surface. I prefer to print on thick artist papers using pigment inks (available in the scrap booking section of art supply and craft stores). Pigment inks are permanent, have rich color and are more archival than traditional dye ink pads. Though they will cost you a bit more, the resulting print is much stronger. Plus, permanent inks allow you to print on more surfaces so you can spread your stamping wings. Try printing on fabric, cloth napkins, t-shirts or dish towels.

Once you compile a small collection of handmade stamps, begin to mix and match them in your prints. Find interesting color combinations or build complex designs within existing drawings. Send us your questions or let us know what you come up with. We’ll gladly post your hand made crafts projects here and instantly make you famous!

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4 Responses to “DIY: Hand Carved Custom Stamps”

  1. The Lead Chandelier » Blog Archive » DIY: Ink Trees Says:

    […] your tree is complete and dry, consider adding embellishments to enhance the design. Custom stamps, like those mentioned in a previous post, photos or other drawings add character to your original […]

  2. Hand Carving Supplies Says:

    […] Hand Carved Custom Stamps […]

  3. The Lead Chandelier » Blog Archive » DIY: Custom Photo Tree Says:

    […] old invitations or decorative card stock, double sided tape & foam tape, leaf rubber stamps(TLC shows you how), pencil with rubber eraser, rubber stamp ink […]

  4. Bregan Says:

    Thanks! We really strive to show the whole creative cycle. It makes the end product that much more engaging.

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