If you want to try your hand at carving a letterboxing stamp, there are a few rubber stamp making supplies you will need before you can get started.
Although I am not the most artistic person in the world, it wasn’t long after I started letterboxing when I got the urge to try my hand at carving my own signature stamp. I held off for awhile thinking I wasn’t creative or talented enough to do it. Finally though after I had found about 20 letterboxes and had seen all the neat stamps other people had carved, I finally decided to take the plunge and try it. I made that first stamp and had so much fun that I wondered why on earth I waited so long to try it. I have since carved hundreds of letterboxing stamps.
After you have been letterboxing awhile and have seen first hand some of the awesome hand-carved stamps that others have hidden, you may get the urge to try making one yourself. I hope you will give it a try – it’s so much fun! Before you can get started though, you will need to have a few basic rubber stamp carving supplies on hand.
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If you don’t have any rubber stamp making supplies at all, I highly recommend starting with a kit. Most kits include nearly everything you need to get started. (Some kits may require you to have some tracing paper and a pencil on hand to transfer the stamped image to the carving rubber.)
This Speedball Stamp Making Kit is the same one I used to carve my very first signature stamp. I loved the fact that I didn’t have to purchase a bunch of different supplies because everything I needed was in the box, except a #2 pencil. When my kit arrived in the mail, I was able to get started right away. In fact, I had my first letterboxing stamp carved less than an hour later.
Speedball Stamp Making Kit Contents:
A rubber stamp carving kit is definitely a great way to get started. As you get more experienced at making hand-carved stamps, you may want to experiment with different carving tips and other brands of carving rubber. When you decide to attempt carving more intricate images, you might want to look into purchasing some additional rubber stamp making supplies.
While the tips included with stamp making kits are great for making simpler stamps that have lots of clean lines and blank spaces, if you want to carve more intricate stamps, you will likely need to purchase some additional carving tips.
After a couple of years of using the wooden handle gouge, I upgraded to the plastic handle of the Speedball Linoleum Cutter. (Despite the name, it is perfect for carving rubber and making stamps.) The thing I really like about this particular stamp carving gouge set is that the tips screw into the handle, which makes it more secure. You don’t have to worry about the tips falling out of the handle while you are in the middle of carving an image.
Another benefit of this particular rubber stamp carving tool is that it comes with 5 different cutting tips. So you can carve more intricate designs. I also love that the tip of the handle unscrews and reveals a storage compartment for the tips you aren’t currently using. It’s a great way to keep them all together so you don’t lose them.
There are many different brands of rubber stamp carving blocks, but I find myself sticking to the “pink stuff” primarily because it is easy for me to find locally and it cuts well. I recommend starting with a small amount of any carving material to see how it works for you. If you like it you can always buy more.
You can get carving blocks in different sizes. I like to purchase the biggest size and then cut off what I need. You save a little bit on the cost per square inch by buying bigger pieces.
There are a couple of different methods you can use to transfer your image to the rubber stamp carving block. The simplest method is to trace your image with a #2 pencil. I find an image that I want to carve and print it out in the size I want. Then I trace over that image with the pencil. Place the traced image, pencil mark side down onto your carving rubber. Then use the back of the spoon to rub over the paper. That will transfer your image to the rubber so you can carve it.
Another method you can try is the parchment paper method. To transfer with this method, tape some parchment paper to a sheet of printer paper and then print your image onto the parchment. Transfer the printed image to the carving block by rubbing it on with the back of a spoon.
The last method involves a Xylene Blender Pen. This is the way many letterboxers choose to transfer intricate images. Please note though that this only works with images printed on a laser printer, photocopied images, or newsprint. Tape your image, ink side down, to your carving medium.
Take the blender pen and paint across the surface of the paper, thoroughly saturating it with Xylene. Let it dry for a few minutes then go back across the paper using strokes in the opposite direction. Let it dry. Repeat a couple more times, using strokes in different directions and allowing it to dry between layers. After it has completely dried, carefully peel up the paper. Your image will be on the rubber, ready to carve.
After you have finished carving your letterboxing stamp, you can certainly use it as is. However, my preference is to mount the stamp on either wood or foam to give it a little bit of stability. I find I consistently get better stamped images when the stamp has a sturdy backing.
For my smaller stamps, I often use blank wooden nickels to act as the handle. For larger stamps, I use 1/4″ thick craft foam, trimmed to the size and shape of the stamp. Whether I am mounting the hand-carved stamp to wood or foam, I use Tombow Mono Adhesive to glue it together.
With a few simple rubber stamp making supplies, you will be able to carve endless stamps for letterboxing. So tell me… have you carved any letterboxing stamps yet? Are you wanting to carve a signature stamp? Or do you want to carve a stamp so you can hide your first letterbox?