Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Eraser stamp tutorial - Part 2

Here is the second post in the eraser stamp carving tutorial. I am not an expert on this subject, but hopefully my trials and errors will help you get off to a good start. I've broken things down into the following bites:

To start with, you can easily use an x-acto knife (or similar sharp knife). It is great for making stamps with all straight lines and stamps that haven't got too many fine details. But I am fairly certain that soon you will start to get ambitious and all straight lines just won't cut it anymore (ha ha, cheesy pun) - ya wanna make spirals and flowers and letters and all sortos of other curvy and delicate things.

This is when you want to get your hands on a lino cutter (as the name suggests, it can also be used for cutting linoleum - you probably had a go at this in school?) You usually buy them in a set consisting of a handle with a number of blades that you can change depending on what kind of line you need to cut.

I am lucky to have the lino cutter (the one on the right) my mum got when she was a (little) girl, but unfortunately, the wooden handle is worn and doesn't hold the blades properly. But the blades are the perfect sizes for making my stamps.
In fact, the blades in the new set are quite a bit larger than the old ones. Notice the difference between these two blades, they are the smalles in the new (left) and old (right) set. Quite a difference! So you want to make sure that your lino cutter set has atleast one blade that can make very delicate details. You won't really need anything too wide. And it is easier to cut a wide area with a skinny blade than a fine detail with a broad blade.
Another note on the blades (and hence the cutter as well, I suppose) if you are hooked on making your own stamps and know that this is something you are going to enjoy, please (please!) do yourself a favour and get a decent set. I bought my new set cheap on eBay and that was a mistake because the blades are not very good.

You can probably tell that there are a couple of nicks in the middle one in the picture above. From cutting the soft rubber of an eraser; not very good. (Luckily, I really only needed the handle.) Speedball and Staedtler Mastercarve both make lino cutters and I would encourage you get one of those (or other quality brands). Yes, they will be more expensive, but it is worth it.


So, your main cutting / carving tools: a lino cutter and an x-acto knife. A self-healing mat is also a good idea so you don't cut into your table.

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