Thursday, February 23, 2012

I can't stop carving stamps.

 I was so happy with the results of my face stamp, I wanted to keep experimenting with more elaborate designs.  I figured out two things that have radically improved the way I stamp.  First I discovered I could do a gel transfer of my image directly onto the surface of the carving block. (I use Speedball Speedy-Carve - it comes in a 4x6 inch block and it's really smooth and easy to carve.)

 I had printed a bunch of copyright free clip art images.
(I was always told you must use toner-based images, such as photo copies, for image transfers, but I've had good luck with technique using my regular old ink-jet printer.)

 I spread the paper will gel medium, stuck it down to the carving block, burnished it and let it sit.   
 Once it was dry, I spritzed the paper with water and peeled it all away - leaving an amazingly clear and detailed image on the stamp.
The second thing that helped, was carving with a magnifying glass.  It allows me to carve away the tiniest little bits, leaving a lot of detail.
Here's the finished product and the corresponding stamped image.
Other recent creations include:

This fly stamp

 This bee stamp

These hand stamps
This chicken stamp
I asked my son to draw one of his signature "guys" for me, and I turned it into a stamp.
And since I've been obsessed with mid-century fabrics lately, I carved these simpler shapes and used them on this postcard:
It's been a productive few days.
When I close my eyes at night I'm still carving.

A few people have asked what I use to carve my stamps.  It's a Speedball linoleum cutter - readily available at craft stores and on-line for not a lot of money.  It comes with five different tips (which are nicely stored inside the handle).


  1. wow seems like you are carving night and day :-) wonderful results ♥ I love the three ants and the little bee so much !

  2. Love the hand with the telephone and the mid-century shapes (I am also obsessed with them). Your own personal stamps make your artwork really unique - I am swooning over the postcard at bottom.

  3. You are amazing! I want to make some. You did such a good job on yours..... very cool. Are you using just the one carving tool pictured here?

  4. These are fabulous -- do you do commissions? ha I wish.....I am more than a little jealous of the stamps and your talent in making them...

    and what tool do you use to carve?

  5. Hold the phone! I just can't bee-lieve my eyes! I get ant-sy just looking at all these stamps! Looks like you really shape-d up the whole process, Chick!

    Haha! I didn't know what to say for the signature guy :D
    These are fantastic! Thanks for the tip about the gel transfer :)

    I still have a whole sheet of that speedball stuff....I haven't made a new stamp in a while....yours have me thinking about it ;)

  6. wow these are brilliant!!! I especially love the bee and the hand with the telephone

  7. I'm beyond impressed! I still feel like this isn't something I can do, but seeing your results are very inspiring! I sure empathize with the whole "carving in your sleep" thing - I often can't turn off whatever creative thing I'm working on either!

  8. Oh I love these, especially the fifties mod, another talent emerges! xox Corrine

  9. I'm in heaven looking at this! I keep meaning to do some new stamps ... yours are wonderful! (I've also done a custom stamp out of a picture my girl drew ... her "chopmark" if you will.

    And your collection of journals?! Can I come live with you?

    Okay ... off my bum and to the art table! thank you for the continual stream of inspiration.
    xo Lis

  10. thanks for telling us how to do the gel transfer, I am going for sure to give it a try, I love love all your carvings.

  11. Wow, you must have a steady hand to carve the spiders! Your stamps are great. Now I want to carve more, too.

  12. Great job. Love that fine detail. I have that same magnifying thingie, but I don't think I can get the effects with it that you did. My eyesight is really bad.

  13. Goodness-you've carved a bundle of stamps. They are amazing- the details on the ants are just WOW! Doing an image transfer is genius.

  14. These are FABULOUS! I love them all--you're doing a great job~~

  15. These are fabulous! I love them. Thanks for showing what you use to make the stamps out of. What is that thing you are carving with? I'm going to have to get some of this and try it. I saw the stamps you made for Pam on her blog. I really love them too.

  16. Aw, you are just so very good! :)

  17. These stamps are wonderful. Thanks for the great tutorial, Karen!

  18. Lov ethe stamps...just may have to break down and do one :0)

  19. You are a genius. These are fantastic. I've been looking for a good carving medium for years - wood and Lino are too hard for me. I shall get some. Thanks, you are an inspiration.

  20. What kind of gel medium are you using? I would love to do this. Thank you.

    1. I use Golden brand gel medium, though I expect other brands will work as well.