Welcome back to “Creating Rubber Stamps: Not All Methods Created Equal.” In parts one and two of this three-part series, the advantages and disadvantages of the laser-engraving and photopolymer rubber stamp-making processes were discussed. In this final installment, you will learn how to make custom rubber stamps and art stamps from the comfort of your very own home!
When making stamps at home, a chemical or non-chemical process can be used. Whether chemical or non-chemical, for homemade rubber stamps and art stamps, a flat eraser will become the artist’s palette. To use a non-chemical process, take a pen and outline on the stamp the image to be etched. Using a sharp item, such as a box cutter, steak knife or linoleum cutter, etch away the non-inked eraser so that all that is left is the raised image that the rubber stamp will impress. If you are not confident in your drawing skills, you may want to use a piece of tracing paper and trace the image you would to place on the rubber stamp. Once the image has been traced, flip over the tracing paper and rub the outline onto the stamp. A pin, fork, or other hard surface can also be used to make indentations of the traced surface. This may not give the most precise image; however, it will provide some guidance for artistically-challenged individuals.
If more precise guidance than tracing paper is preferred, a chemical process can also be used. First, a clear black-and-white photocopy of the image will be needed. Wet the image with acetone using a cotton swab or ball, and press the dark side of the image on the eraser. As acetone is highly flammable and may irritate skin, stay in a well-ventilated area and make as little contact with the chemical as possible. Remove the paper from the eraser; the ink will have transferred to the rubber eraser. Using the box or linoleum cutter, carve away the non-inked areas of the eraser; this will create a rubber stamp out of the raised surfaces.
After the rubber stamp has been carved, you may want to mount it on a piece of wood or other hard surface. This will promote the longevity of the stamp and keep it from suffering too much “wear and tear” while stamping. Mounting the eraser will also help the user to stay away from the ink while stamping. Another advantage of using a mounted stamp is the guarantee of a hard surface and quality impression with every imprint.
Although making a stamp by hand is an attractive option, it requires extensive hand-customization and allows little room for error. If the carver makes a mistake, they must adjust the image for the mistake or, in a worst-case scenario, start completely over. In addition to the extensive time required, there are also costs that must be incurred for each stamp created. For example, to create a 1” x 1” wooden-mounted stamp, the costs would be approximately:
$0.75 1” x 1” wood block
$0.50 rubber eraser
$6.00 Small utility knife and/or linoleum cutter
In comparison, the average cost for a 1” x 1” stamp online is $4.00-$6.00. While the carving tools and acetone may last for quite a while, the other costs, lack of precision and hassle-factors may prove incentive enough to purchase stamps from an online or retail store.
Whether you’re laser-engraving, creating photopolymer molds, carving rubber stamps by hand or shopping for rubber stamps online, take the knowledge from this three-part series to make your decision! If you are looking for the precision of laser-engraving, the economy of photopolymer, or the homemade look of erasers, each stamp-making method has something to offer. Remember that, when it comes to art stamp and rubber stamp customization, the possibilities are endless!