Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Stamp Carving

 Carving stamps is a fun way to make your own art tools.  Stamps can be carved from many different substances and when complete, you have a tool that you can use to quickly create an image again and again.
In the younger grades, we used to take potatoes and carve a shape into the end.  Then we would paint the carved potato and "stamp" it onto paper. It was inexpensive but the potato didn't last long.
Other substances that can be carved are wood, linoleum blocks, erasers and now there are carving blocks that cut easily.
The dangers involve using carving tools.
When Allie was in first grade, I was asked to take one day a month and do an art appreciation unit with the students.  The lesson took 45 minutes and I divided the time by explaining a particular artist and his technique and then giving the students similar materials so they could emulate that artist's progress.
One unit involved an artist who did multiple prints.  In preparation for the lesson, I spent the night carving linoleum blocks for the students to use in their process.  Well, I got sloppy, held a block incorrectly and needed a trip to the emergency room for some stitches.
After that incident, Jon made me promise to give up linoleum carving.  I found softer substances to carve and learned to be more careful.  And since then, I have carved lots and lots of stamps.
Here are the supplies. The large brown block is a leftover linoleum  block that I have had for years as a reminder to PAY ATTENTION.  The gray blocks are a soft material that cuts easily and safely -- kind of like block cutting for dummies.
 And here are some stamps I have carved....
 And others...
 And others... (although the orange colored ones are carved from a rubber material that Jon etched for me in a laser engraver.  It works just like a rubber stamp!)
 Here is the simple procedure that I use to carve the stamps.
Take the soft material and draw an image.  The image can be a pattern, a sketch, a face, anything.  Then comes the design part.  What areas do I want to be imprinted?  I decided that on the above image, I wanted the three diamonds to show up when I stamped.  In order to do this, I have to remove the area that I don't want to stamp.
 So, I carefully cut an outline of the diamonds.
 And then I carve away the background, leaving the diamonds.
 To double check my work, I tap the carved stamp into an inkpad and test it out.
 And here is my image stamped.  I like the pattern so I keep it. But, if I wanted to change it, I would carve away more.
And then I stamped multiple times to create a screen like image.  This way, I can get a feel for what a large image will look like or just a simple portion of the image.
This is a great way to create various shapes or image that I want to use repeatedly in my artwork or if I make invitations or cards.

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