Hand Carving Rubber Stamps- A Super Easy Tutorial

I’m back on a hand-carving-rubber-stamps-kick lately, especially images of architectural elements like windows and doors.  I love how quickly you can create an printable image using Soft-Kut printing blocks and a nice, sharp Speeball lino cutter.  It feels like you’re  carving butter, refrigerated butter of course.  And then you have the stamp to use forever!  It’s like an investment in your art toolbox.  I mean, you gotta think of your future here.

I work on a self healing rubber mat and cut my block to the desired size using an Exacto knife.  I draw my image on graph paper using a 2B or 3B pencil.

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I then flip my drawing over onto my rubber block.  I burnish it with the back of a spoon.  Keep the paper as still as you can and press hard with the back of the spoon. Rub the spoon all around on the back of your image.  Remove the paper and you will have a faint transfer of your image on the surface of your block.  Darken these lines with a Pitt or Micron pen.

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Begin carving your block with your Speedball lino cutter.  I use a #3 blade to start and carve the outside perimeter of my stamp.  Go slowly and steady.  Better control will happen with practice and sharp blades always help.  In other words, if you suspect that your blade is dull, chuck it and get a new one!  It really makes a world of difference.

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Now carve out the interior spaces.  Depending on your image this can take some forethought.   Really think about what you want to carve away- once it’s gone you can’t put it back!  When you think you’re finished, cut away the outside rubber with an Exacto knife, carefully staying in the outer “ditch” made by the carving tool.

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Now comes the moment of truth; printing the stamp.  For an ink pad I like to use Archival Ink by Ranger.  It’s acid free, permanent, and waterproof, and much easier than rolling out ink with a brayer.  Ink your stamp well with the pad and carefully print it on a smooth-surfaced paper.  The Soft-Kut rubber is pretty floppy.  I have heard of artists using “cling mount” which when applied to the back of the stamp, allows it to cling to a clear acrylic block.  This is on my list of things to do in the near future (get a hold of some cling mount), it’s sounds quite lovely.

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Voila!  I can edit my stamp using the printed image as a guide.  For instance, if there’s anything I don’t like that can be adjusted by removing more rubber, I can then go back into the stamp and shave off bits here and there.  I see a few little places I might like to tinker with but other than that, not too bad for 20 minutes of time.  And nothing beats a hand carved rubber stamp.  You can really feel the artist’s hand in carved stamps, unlike their perfect mass-factory-produced counter parts.

 

 

 

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4 Comments

  1. Love this tutorial! I’ve been wanting to try these and now I think I will. Love the window and door ideas.

  2. Thanks Denice! These guys (n gals?) are very quick n easy. I also would like to try carving wood blocks as I know you can do “different” things with those. But the rubber is just divine.

  3. […] window using one of my hand-carved rubber window stamps and a jet black Archival Ink pad by Ranger. Visit my website at for an easy tutorial on carving your own window stamp. Need window inspiration? They are everywhere, just look out (or at) your window! If you prefer not […]

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