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Crafting Rubber Stamps
by Rachel Webb
What we refer to as crafting stamps today were most commonly used in the Roman times right through the nineteenth and twentieth century in the form of a seal or royalty and nobles used a signet ring. Most people in that time were unable to read or write and seals or stamps were a convenient way to authenticate documents or letters when the contents were important.

The oldest stamps or seal of record are a Babylonian seal dating from an estimated 4000 BC and a seal from modern day Syria from around 3000 BC. Ancient stamps were made from clay, bone, stone, wood, ivory and a variety of different metals. They were also available in a variety of sizes and shapes just as they are today.

Rubber stamps are typically manufactured by creating three parts. The design or "die" is cut from rubber. Then the design is attached to a wooden or plastic block to be used as a handle. A layer of foam acts as a cushion and is sandwiched in between.

CHOOSING A MANUFACTURED STAMP

Before purchasing a rubber stamp that is pre-made you will want to check several areas to make sure you will be happy with your investment. These steps are also important to know if you plan on making your own hand-cut stamps.

1. The design should be cut evenly and deeply. Designs that are cut shallow will not produce a clean crisp image.

2. The block or handle should be easy to hold. Avoid buying stamps with a foam or sponge block. These kind of bases encourage you to push down on your stamp too hard when applying an image and can smear your work.

3. The depth of the cushion should not be lower than the edge of the handle. When pressure is applied to the stamp, the design should be the only part of the stamp that touches your surface material.

MAKE YOUR OWN RUBBER STAMP

You will need minimal tools and equipment for this project:
Rubber White Eraser
Tracing Paper
Pencil
Needle
Craft Knife
Sandpaper
Wood Block
Saw
1/4" thick Cellulose Sponge
Glue

1. Choose a design that can fit on a white eraser and trace the image onto tracing paper with your pencil making a heavy, thick line.

2. Turn the tracing paper over onto your eraser and draw on top of the lines of the design while applying pressure. This will transfer the design to the top of the eraser.

3. Use a pen to re-mark the pencil lines to make them more obvious. The reversed image will be easier to see now and you can cut out the areas of the eraser with a needle that are not part of the design.

4. Using a needle, trace the lines several times to allow the surface of the rubber to be scored. This initial scoring should be away from the image with no undercutting.

5. Next, use a very sharp crafting knife to cut the lines of the image deeper. Cut the angles at a slope with the narrow section towards the top of the eraser.

6. Clean off any left over ink from the eraser and place the stamp on a ink pad to take a test print of the design. This will help you to see where the rough edges of your stamp need to be trimmed. If you make a mistake while cutting, you can use sandpaper to sand-off cuts that are not too deep.

7. Cut the sponge the same shape as the stamp and then glue the sponge to the back of the rubber stamp.

8. Cut a piece of wood that is the same size or slightly larger than your design and glue it to the back of the sponge and rubber stamp piece.

TIPS ON STAMPING

You can use almost any kind of paint permanent or non-permanent for printing your design but generally the thicker the ink the more vibrant the color will be. Be careful not to over-ink your stamp or your result will be a smudged image. If you are using an inkpad lightly bounce the stamp on the surface and avoid pressing down hard. If the image is highly detailed less paint will be needed.

Always stamp on a flat hard surface and allow plenty of drying time in between layered colors.

Do not "rock" the stamp when applying it to your surface material because the images could blur. Only light pressure is required around the edges of the stamp.

To make sure your stamps stay in good condition you will want to store them rubber side down and clean them immediately after use and between colors. Do not immerse your stamps in water as it could loosen the adhesive. There are a wide variety of stamp cleaning products available commercially or you can blot the image on a paper towel until the ink is gone. Use a solvent based cleaner or liquid detergent and old toothbrush to completely clean difficult designs.

Rachel Webb
Copyright 2000

Author Rachel Webb designs Large Magnetic Fridge Calendars easy to write-on/wipe-off & guaranteed not to slide off when the kids slam the fridge door!
http://www.Note-Ables.com
E-Mail Rachel@Note-Ables.com for a $2 off Coupon!

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