Making Your Own Stamps From Scrap Rubber

Class taught by Candice J. on 9/06/06

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See the gallery and upload your own images:
Stamps With Scraps Gallery on Flickr

Supplies:

I have provided a file with 4 sample images (3 copies of each) that you can download from OSAClasses files and print out. This sheet can be used just as printed (no reversing or photcopying required). The file is available to members of OSAClasses at:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/OSAClasses/files/Make%20your%20own%20stamps/

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You can print either the word or pdf formatted document. There is an alternative set for those of you who don’t have pieces large enough for the Chrysanthemum parts.

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In addition to the image sample sheet referenced above, you will need at the minimum:

a. Scraps of rubber pieces left over from cutting images from unmounted sheets of stamps. You may also wish to try foam rubber.
b. Scissors to cut the rubber, paper and plastic transparency sheets or stiff, clear plastic from packaging materials (like that nasty stuff you have to cut away from products sealed in clear, molded plastic).
c. Clear transparency sheets (like those used with overhead projectors) or the above mentioned packaging plastic.
d. A respositionable glue (I prefer to use the spay on glue used with stencils, but anything that will temporarily hold paper to plastic and paper to rubber.)
e. A permanent glue capable of adhering rubber to plastic. I use E6000 glue.
f. Static cling mounting foam (if you don’t use this product you may be able to improvise another method to use).
g. Acrylic block or other smooth surface to temporarily or permanently mount your completed stamp(s).

Other items that may come in handy are:

a. Tweezers, an alligator clip or a hemostat (to hold small pieces for trimming and gluing).
b. Nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol to help remove excess glue on the rubber pieces, and cotton balls or Q-tips.
c. Ink or markers and scrap paper to test out your completed stamps.
d. Permanent marker if you choose to add guidelines to your stamp base or to trace your pattern pieces onto your rubber scraps.

Method:

a. Cut out two of the same image. One is to use as a template under your transparency, the other is to use as a template for cutting out the rubber.

b. Pick a piece of acetate transparency or clear stiff plastic that is at least as large as the printed image. Spray or daub a bit of repositionable glue to the back of your plastic piece to hold the paper in place while you work. (Ignore the brown paper on the plastic in the photo–that is just to show you that you don’t have to have a pristine piece of plastic).

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c. At this point, if you like, you can use a ruler and a Sharpie pen to make guide marks on the plastic to help orient your stamp. For example if you were making a stamp that required a specific orientation, you could mark lines on the plastic to help place your finished stamp in a straight line or whatever.

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d. Trim the plastic to your image–along the grid line if you decided to use one, or .25 inch or so around the edges of your image if you prefer closely trimmed images. Here’s a sample with the guideline showing.

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e. Spray or daub on respostionable glue to the back of your second copy of the Chrysanthemum. Be sure the glue covers all the sections underneath your printed image.

f. Cut out all the individual pieces and stick them to a piece of paper or plastic to hold them in place while you finish cutting out each piece.

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g. Lay out several scraps of rubber in various sizes in front of you with the smooth side up.

h. Place the individual paper pieces on the scraps, being sure that the pattern piece is on a rubber scrap at least as big as the pattern piece.

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i. At this point you can either trace around the patterns onto the rubber with a Sharpie pen, or you can secure the paper piece to the rubber between the thumb and index finger of one hand while cutting and rotating the piece with scissors.

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If you have traced the piece, remove the paper and cut each piece. Tracing is good for pieces with inside angles or curves that are hard to cut while keeping the paper from slipping. In some cases it may help to hold smaller pieces with tweezers while trimming.

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j. Lay out all the pieces on the plastic base, using the image underneath the plastic as a guide. Be sure you have all your pieces ready before going to the next step. You can remove the paper and do any fine trimming you feel will improve the image, but remember “The Best is the Enemy of the Good”–if you overtrim you may have to recut the piece.

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k. Because E6000 glue tends to harden quickly, it is imperative that you have all your pieces ready and accounted for before you start this part of the process. If you’re using a much wetter glue, you’ll have to wait until it hardens to go to the next steps.

l. You can squeeze out a little glob of glue onto a piece of plastic to dip the pieces in or you can push up a small bead of glue at the top of the tube and draw the backside of your pieces across it to apply the glue.

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m. You want to get fairly full coverage on the backside of the piece of rubber, a thin layer. For small pieces it works well to hold them with tweezers and dip them into the glue. After adding the glue to each piece, lay it down on the base plastic, again using the image copy underneath the plastic as your guide for placement. If you are quick you can slide the pieces a bit if needed before the glue dries. You want to avoid getting any glue onto the top of your rubber pieces as much as possible.

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n. Inspect your stamp looking for any excess glue that has gotten onto the top of the rubber pieces. Try to gently scrape or pull of any excess glue on the top of the pieces with your fingernails or with your tweezers. If that doesn’t work, try daubing it with a little rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover.

o. You may notice slight differences in the height of the individual pieces. This will be okay when you add foam to the back of the base and apply good pressure when stamping. You may also notice a slight warping or curling along the edges of the pieces. This again will be okay if you add foam to the back (see next step) and apply good pressure when using the stamp.

p. Peel back the protective sheet on a piece of static cling mounting foam far enough to expose a large enough area of mounting foam for the base of your stamp. Press your clear plastic base onto the adhesive side of the mounting foam. Trim the foam around your plastic base and remove it from the sheet.

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(If you want more information on using mounting foam, go to: http://www.artneko.com/clingVinylFoam.php for general instructions on using mounting foam with unmounted stamps.)

q. Attach your foam mounted stamp, cling side down, onto an acrylic block (or other smooth, hard surface such as a ceramic tile), ink up you stamp with stamp pad or markers, and try it out. You may need to try it a few times to “condition it” and as stated above, if you find there are indented areas not getting ink or not releasing ink to the paper, you may need to check for full ink coverage before stamping and use firm pressure to flatten out the stamp while stamping.

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Now, you can try making stamps from the other images on your sample sheet. In a day or so I will upload some other samples you can experiment with. And of course you are all creative and innovative so I can’t wait to see what you all come up with on your own. You can post them here: Stamps With Scraps Gallery on Flickr

You can see additional tips and photos starting at http://www.artneko.com/previewscraps1.php

Thank you for taking my class and here’s to recycling around the world!

Candice

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