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Along with stencils, one of the quickest ways to add your unique mark to any at-home craft project is with a rubber art stamp. You probably created some variation on the theme out of potatoes in grade school, and the technique for rubber is no more difficult to master. After some trial and error, you should be able to achieve smooth lines and detail of medium intricacy with little more than a bit of tracing paper and an exacto blade. And, unlike a potato, you can keep your rubber stamp to use again and again.
- Rubber for carving. You can buy sheets of stamp rubber at almost any art supplies store, but for the trial and error period, you can also just use a conventional rubber eraser.
- Tracing paper
- Sharp pencil
- Exacto blade
- Block cutting tool with V-gouge blade (borrow one from an arty friend)
- Ink pad or broad-tipped Sharpie
- Decide on a design. For your first couple of stamps, you might choose simple shapes over images with lots of fine detail, but soon you’ll probably want to tackle more complicated ones. Clip art archives are an excellent resource for finding designs.
- Trace design onto the tracing paper with a pencil, making the lines as clean and dark as possible, then transfer to the rubber by turning the traced image upside down onto it. Rub the back of the paper gently but firmly with a hard edge (your fingernails will do). You can do this with newsprint and ink-jet printed material.
- With the V-gouge, score each line of the design lightly, then repeat several more times with increasing pressure. You’ll get smoother curves if you rotate the rubber beneath the blade, instead of plowing the blade forward along them, and you’ll avoid ragged edges by not pushing too hard and “gouging” too deeply. If your rubber is crumbly, pop in the freezer for an hour or so to firm it up.
- With the exacto blade, cut the finished image from the remaining rubber. You can mount it on a block of wood or just use as is.