Making Tiny Rubber Stamps

One of my test pages. Pencil: Pentel Twist-Erase XP. The notebook is a Nakabayashi. Stamp: is supposed to be a mug. I'm hoping it actually looks like one.

One of my test pages. Pencil: Pentel Twist-Erase XP. The notebook is a Nakabayashi. Stamp is supposed to be a mug. I’m hoping it actually looks like one.

I love tiny stamps. You can get some nice sets–I actually have some that I bought a while back, that I really like. (“Diary stamps” was the search term that finally worked for me, I think.) But I’ve also found that I get vaguely discontented using someone else’s images. Even if my images are a lot less finessed, less professional, I like seeing them. So yesterday, I set out to make some small stamps for a journal/calendar-type thing I’m trying.

It’s been a long time since I’ve done a craft project, and I have to say, it felt really good. Unfortunately, I’d forgotten a lot of what I learned from making the first set of rubber stamps, so I had to learn again. And I don’t know what tutorials/instructions I used the last time–this time, I just winged it based on what I remembered.

I’m assuming you already know the basics of rubber stamp carving, but if you don’t, I think this is one of the tutorials I used for my first pass, who knows how many months ago. There’s another tutorial here, which I may or may not have seen before making my first stamps, but the way the X-Acto knife is used is quite similar to how I used my X-Acto knife this time, so there you go.

With that, here are the tools I found most useful in making particularly small stamps:

  • A piece of paper to draw the design on
  • Carving rubber to transfer the design onto (see tutorial links)
  • An X-Acto knife to trace the design once it’s on the carving rubber (see the second link)
  • A mechanical pencil. The “mechanical” part is important, because I used the metal tip to carve away rubber. It was really good for getting into tight spaces. I used a Pentel Twist-Erase XP, if that helps. I found the X-Acto knife/mechanical pencil team far more useful for the tiny stamps than a linoleum cutter.
  • Foam mounting tape. I’m sure I read somewhere, during my first foray into rubber stamp carving, that foam (though perhaps not specifically foam mounting tape) is the right way to mount these things, but I can’t remember where. I also remember reading a lot about adhesives, getting really confused, and then just buying foam mounting tape instead, which… I’ll talk about in a second.
  • Tiny wooden blocks to mount the stamps on
  • A stamp pad

Other tips: obviously, be super careful with the X-Acto knife. (And, for that matter, with the pencil.) Also, the foam mounting tape probably isn’t the best way of mounting stamps–I have found that it doesn’t stick as permanently as one might wish. But it is super easy to apply, which is a win for me. I don’t use my stamps enough to need a heavy-duty adhesive.

Like most of the projects I do, this one is pretty easy–the complexity of the carving depends on the complexity of the image. (I did carve another stamp on Sunday, but it… did not go as well. Or maybe it’s ok; I’m just not sold on it yet. The point is, the mug was a lot simpler.) I’m thinking I’ll add more stamps as needed. And I’ll try to use some of the stamps I already have, because they’re fantastic.

With that, I’ll let you all get back to your Monday. Good luck to anyone who’s planning to try a craft project! And to everyone else: I hope your week is off to a good start, and that it’s full of (to sort of quote my sample calendar/journal entry above) only the best things happening, and wonderful stuff to note!

Homemade Bookmark

Bookmark FrontBookmark BackThis is something I’ve wanted to do for a while. I love bookmarks, but like a cat with expensive toys, I tend to ignore the store-bought ones and instead use things like receipts. They’re just so convenient. I don’t have to feel guilty about taking notes on them, and if they happen to be from the library, they usually have the due date of the book I’m reading printed right there.

But in my heart, I still want to have proper bookmarks. So with that in mind, I tried to come up with a bookmark that wouldn’t be too bad to look at, but that I also wouldn’t feel guilty about writing on.

This is what I ended up with. The banner-type thing on the front seems like a good place to keep track of books read using this bookmark. The blank books and postcards on the back are probably better for recording things like due dates and daily progress (if I feel like it).

I don’t know if it’ll actually work. But if it doesn’t, Barnes & Noble has some similar bookmarks available–I stumbled across them a while back, I think sometime after my first unsuccessful foray into designing my own bookmark. They don’t do exactly what I want, but I’m still dying to try them out, because it looks like they do some other things far better. And besides: bookmarks. Always room for more bookmarks. So either way, I get to have some fun.

In the meantime, though, here are the materials I used for this bookmark:

  • Strathmore mixed media paper (300 series)
  • Cutting mat and knife (some kind of paper slicer would probably be better, but I don’t have one of those)
  • Rulers (metal one for cutting the paper–again, not necessary if you have the paper slicer–and regular plastic one for most of the other stuff)
  • Pencil and eraser
  • Pens–I used Tombows, a Pigma Micron, and Staedtler Triplus Fineliners. None of them bled through; the only problem was with the very edges of the bookmark. Some stuff leaked around the rim a tiny bit, but that was mostly because of my sloppy coloring. (I verified that later by coloring more carefully.) With these markers, I also didn’t notice any pilling (I hope that’s the right word)–the paper still feels smooth.

It’s a really easy project–you can decide for yourself how much or how little time you want to put into it, how intricate you want the designs to be, etc. Now all that’s left is to road test it. And maybe someday, when all those blank spaces are filled up, to put this bookmark in my treasury, with all my other “favorites” that I don’t want to risk losing.

At least there are always library receipts.

Gallery

Marker Case Mock-Up

I tend to have trouble finishing things. This probably doesn’t come as a surprise, given some of my past blog topics. (Like last year’s NaNoWriMo goal, or my return to blogging that lasted for 3 posts. So at least I’ve beaten that, this time.) Lately, getting things done has been harder than ever, it seems. But on Saturday, I decided it would be cool to make a case for my Tombows (the plastic shipping bag I was keeping them in was starting to get annoying), and on Sunday, I actually finished the mock-up.

Granted, it wasn’t the way I’d imagined it would be, starting out. But there are a lot of things I like about the final product. Honestly, there’s every chance that I’ll use this thing until it breaks, mock-up or not, because if it works, it works.

All things considered, then: I’m calling this project a win. If you’d like to make one of your own, here’s what I used:

  • Fabric and buttons: Joann’s. (Fabric Quarters–lots of nice patterns there, and there was a sale. Might still be, depending on when you’re reading this.) The button brand is also available here, apparently. And of course you’ll also need thread and a needle and stuff. And a tiny piece of ribbon, if you want to make it the same way I did.
  • Instructions: I more or less followed this video, with some small alterations.

It’s actually pretty easy. And I say this as someone who doesn’t usually sew. The hardest part was getting the corners of the bag. And those are really kind of optional, for my version.