Raise your hand if you remember making a carved-potato stamp in grade school? Big piece of newsprint, runny tempura paint? Having the best time ever?
Those potatoes have stuck in my mind for a long time. One Christmas we used cut-up sponges instead and made our own gift wrap. My parents probably wondered what their tax dollars were being spent on, but craft projects were always my favorite part of the school day.
Today I still play with stamping, only I usually go for fancy store-bought ones, as well as real, live postage stamps. I like to collect both kinds when I travel: on today's art journal page I used a postage stamp from Taiwan, a good old 1-cent USA stamp, and one I cut out of a travel magazine. I also used a couple of rubber stamps, placing the butterfly on yet another of my practice apricot sketches similar to the one I pasted onto "A is for Art Journal." (This example shown here was drawn on a piece of fabric interfacing--a very interesting experiment and highly recommended.)
But going back to rubber stamps, the one problem is that they're pricey. I always buy them when they're on sale, which saves a lot of money, but there's other ways to stick to a budget:
- Avoid the art supply stores and shop instead at dollar and discount stores. Sometimes they have fantastic deals and selections.
- Carve your own stamps from rubber and plastic erasers (including the ones at the tip of a pencil) with an X-acto knife.
- Carve old wine corks.
- Cut out shapes from thick or corrugated cardboard.
- You can make all sorts of designs from dried modelling and paper clays.
- Don't forget those potatoes! Other root vegetables can work too (I promise this isn't an April Fool's joke).
- Household items: hairbrushes, toothbrushes, embossed wallpaper scraps. Use your imagination.
Many of these techniques, especially the potatoes and cardboard, will probably have a one-time, one-project use, but that's okay. It's easy to get bored with your stamp collections (one of the reasons I don't like to pay too much for them) and after several butterflies and seahorses you're soon longing for a kitten- or parrot stamp.
The only other thing you'll need for stamping besides shape and design is some color. Ink pads for stamps come in so many shades and styles today it's difficult to choose; some provide a faded "vintage" look, others have a gilded, metallic appearance. Just like making your own stamps, however, you don't always need a commercial stamp pad. Watercolor, washable felt tip pens, acrylic and other paints work just as well if not better depending on your project.
So the next time you receive a card, letter, or package with an attractive stamp adhered--save it. I like to keep a little bit of the actual envelope's torn pages "framing" the stamp, as well as the entire postal imprint--almost as good as a free rubber stamp, especially if its from overseas!
Tip of the Day: Of all my stamps, the one that means the most to me and that I'll never get bored with is my personal stone seal I ordered from Taiwan: Happy Little Cat. If you'd like something similar, I recommend the company I went through: Asian Brush Art. They also have lovely pre-carved Chinese character stamps that you can purchase to enhance your work with balance and a happy thought for the day.