This past Saturday, my daughter came to Joann's with me, to purchase some fabric. While we were there, we looked through the clearance section at the various craft supplies. She gravitated to make rubber stamps. I mentioned, that when I was her age (and older) I used to collect rubber stamps and use them for all sorts of projects. She has a few, but I've never trusted her to be alone with stamps and ink. She's had many occurrences of stamping gone wild...on the wall and other places that aren't paper. She's at a good age to trust her more with these things. I got to thinking about making stamps, since commercial rubber stamps can be expensive and images are limited to what is available. This is where we come to why I'm making this post...I researched how to make different stamps, so she (and you all) could have some creative freedom with what images you want.

I've made a foam skull stamp when I wanted to print a custom fabric for a dress, for my daughter. This is a method that is very easy, and can be simplified for a kid (or anyone) that you don't trust with an xacto blade. The foam I used is very thin, so I glued layers of it together. The finished stamp worked well for the project I needed it for. The size and style is up to you, which is the nice thing about custom made stamps.

If you want something more professional looking, and similar to commercial rubber stamps, try carving your own using a special rubber, and linoleum carving tools.

This How-Tuesday: Make a Stamp with Art Mind shows how to make a simplified Babuschka stamp using carving rubber and linoleum carvers. If you've never made a stamp, or carved something before, it's best to start simple. Weather the design is one with more surface area, or a line drawing like this one, keep the design simple. The better you get by practicing carving stamps, the more intricate designs you can make. This rubber is very easy to carve, because it's smooth and soft. The back of the finished stamp can be mounted to a wood block or an acrylic sheet.

If you learn better with videos, here is a great detailed tutorial on how to carve a more detailed stamp. Again, the intricacy of the design is up to you, and you skill level. This uses the same supplies and technique as the above tutorial, but it's easier to follow because the steps are filmed, vs written.

Feeling like you have this rubber carving thing down, and want to travel with your stamps, try making this Mini Stamp Set (In an Altoid Tin) from Glitter Brain. Because these are mini stamps, she uses eraser blocks and small wooden blocks. This is a great way to reuse Altoid tins. I probably have many of those laying around. Crafty ways to upcycle them, would be a great post for a different day.

What about something not so traditional? What if you are on a tight budget, and need basic stamp for a project...say for a classroom full of kids, or scout troop? Grab a potato (or several), and a knife (a plastic one for kids).

This Skull Potato Stamp by Martha Stewart was made during Noah Scalin's appearance on her show, several years ago. (His segment on that same episode was about the Skull-A-Day project/site.) In addition to the potato and knife, the ever crafty Martha uses a melon baller to help scoop out the eyes and sides. If you click the link, there is a video included on the page. I couldn't embed it here, but it shows how they both made theirs. She used them to decorate Halloween treat bags, but you could use them for wrapping paper, fabric printing, or any surface you want to stamp on.

Want something more organic and surprising? Try stamping with fruit and vegetables.

When apples are cut in half horizontally, they make a star center stamp. When cut vertically, they make a apple shaped stamp. Kayte Terry shows us How to Make an Apple Print Tote Bag

Over at Quirky Moma: Kids Activities Blog, Havalyn used Green Peppers to make Shamrock (Clover) Stamps. If you want 3 or 4 "leaf" clovers, make sure the bottoms of the peppers you buy have 3 to 4 bumps. The amount of bottom bumps determines how many leaves you will have after the peppers are sliced. With a different colored paint, these would also make great flowers shapes.

Do you have more meat than veggies in your house? Use the left over foam meat trays (Though other foods use them too, meat is most commonly packed using them.) to make simple embossed stamps. The Moo-Cow Fan Club shows us How to Make You Own Foam Tray Prints. These can be made any size, from the full sheet to a small shape.

Thin craft foam sheets can also be used to make embossed stamps, but the results are slightly different. Kelly Wilkinson of Make Grown Gather shows us how to make stamps using foam sheets. Makes this style of stamp is as easy as having adhesive foam sheets, a ball point pen, and paint. Designs are created simply by drawing on the foam sheets, which causes the foam to be embossed. The part that holds the paint, is the part that has no drawing. Again, this is another project that is great for kids to adults. As long as they can hold a pen, they can create an embossed foam stamp.

If you want to make your own stamp easily, but without designing your shape, try using foam stickers adhered to wood or acrylic sheets. Maya Made shows us how to make stamps with foam stickers and foam sheets. This allows you to re-position the shapes as needed. It's great for kids and doesn't require a knife...SUPER SAFE!!! There are many different foam stickers for sale at craft stores, in many different themes. 

You can use plain sticky foam sheets, and cut out a design from them. They, just like the stickers, will adhere and re-position on wood or acrylic sheets. I would make a free form pattern by slicing up a sticky foam sheet randomly, and just as randomly, adhering the pieces on a wood or acrylic sheet. Both the foam stickers and foam sheets should be in the same section at a craft store.

Which ever method(s) you choose, the design choices are up to you, and in the end it's about having creative fun! Happy Makery!


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