Thursday, December 28, 2017

Carve December 28

Hello Friends and Happy Thursday!  I'm back with another carved stamp - this time a little Celtic Luck...

It's a more complicated design so it's not perfect by any means but it's still something to use for St. Patty's Day.  It's so hard to find stamps for that day so I'm going to attempt a couple more.  Yesterday Susan317 asked if I ever posted step by steps for the stamps I carve.  Up till now, no I haven't because I just started carving at the beginning of the month so it's been a learning process.  I don't know if I'm doing it the right or wrong way, it's just what works for me but I will share the process.  Luckily I read Susan's comment shortly after I began this stamp so here is what I did....

Initially I draw the image onto the rubber with an almost dull pencil - if you use a sharpened pencil it will mar the surface of the rubber and once it's nicked you're stuck with it. If you're lucky it will be in an area that you will carve away - otherwise, it's there for ever.  Trust me on slip of the knife and you're ______! I've had to start over more than once because of that very thing.

So after you've drawn on the design, use the smallest knife you have and follow each line. One tip I got from a seasoned, expert (IMO) stamp carver was to rotate the rubber, not the carving tool...follow along the lines as you would if you were using a scroll saw. That tip helps so's far easier to rotate the piece you're working on than it is to contort your hand to follow the design.   That is the reason I leave all of my shavings on the craft mat...they act as tiny rollers under the rubber so I can rotate it easily.

So once you've got all of the initial lines carved out, I test it to see if I like the design.  This is actually the 2nd time I've carved this design...the first one turned out nasty so I flipped the piece of rubber over and started again.

As you can see it's not perfect but it's better than attempt #1. It's really hard to follow all those curves around!  At this point if I were carving something that had lots of empty space that I had to carve out I would also check for how clean the image looks.  Lots of times you have areas that look like they've been cleaned out good but when it's stamped show up on the image.  Sometimes I leave the strays on the image if it adds to the overall design but you can cut them away now if desired.  I always stamp it until I get a nice cleaned up image that I am shooting for.  I have stamped, cut, stamped and cut up to 5-6 times just to get it looking the way I want it to.  Be careful though...if you cut something off you can't add it back!  I learned that the hard way too.  One small nick of the knife and you might loose a vital part of the image so take your time.

Since it's acceptable the next thing you need to do is cut away the excess if desired. You would either cut right up against the design if it's something like the stamps from yesterday that have a solid outline already.  Since the "design" on this stamp is just a line drawing it wouldn't work so well so I went around the outside edge again with the smallest knife and "traced" an outline.

Once you have the outline to your liking take a larger knife and start whittling away the excess rubber all the way around - you can see where I have started this process with the 3 heavy lines of rubber being removed.

Once you have a nice thick edge to work with, you can use an exacto knife to cut away the excess rubber.

When you're done cutting, it's time to stamp!  I usually have a few stray lines of rubber that I missed that aren't noticeable by just looking at the stamp.  If you stamp it and see something you don't like the looks of you can always take the exacto knife and trim it off. 

And you've got yourself a fun new image to play with!!

So there you go, that's how I carve the stamps I've been making!
Like I mentioned above, I don't know if I'm doing it the right way or wrong way,
it's just what works for me.

Hope it inspires you to pick up a carving knife and give it a try!


  1. Sorry I've been remiss on commenting. I've been enjoying all of your carvings, but this is probably my favorite so far. You're talents are showing! ;0)


Thanks for your thoughts and comments!