How to Make Rubber Stamps from a Computer Graphic -- How to Transfer a Design to a Rubber Block
Rubber stamp making is a growing craft trend across the country, and even very detailed stamps are incredibly easy to make with a few materials, some patience and a steady hand. Here are a few common techniques for transferring copies of pictures or graphics that you already have and transforming them into a high-quality block cut rubber stamp. Some of the items you may need (depending on your preferred technique) include:
- Obviously, you need a piece of rubber. Carving blocks specifically for the purpose of cutting your own stamps are available in many craft stores. Alternatively, click through to the item on the right to buy enough carving block for several larger stamps. If you want to get to work right now and can't find carving blocks locally, you can get a similar feel from cutting large rubber erasers for practice.
- A very sharp knife such a razor knife or an Exacto blade.
- A small tool with a v-shaped blade. Something similar to cuticle trimmers would work but it has to be tough enough to cut thru the rubber without a tremendous amount of effort.
- Depending on which transfer method you decide to use, you’ll also need water, vegetable oil or olive oil, a towel and an iron, or transfer paper (carbon paper) with some straight pins and a pencil.
Shorten the shopping list by getting all the starter tools you need in a handy kit. This is especially helpful if you have no tools or rubber blocks yet.
First step is to pick a computer generated graphic to transfer to your stamp. It should have moderately heavy lines with an open, fairly simple design. If this is going to be the first rubber stamp you’ve created, open and simple becomes particularly important. Anything too detailed or anything that is going to call for a textured look will require much more advanced methods. Once you have chosen the graphic that you want, print it off on your printer and its time to move on to the next step.
The method of transfer you choose will be dictated by-and-large by the kind of ink and paper that the graphic is printed on and constructed of. Obviously, your skill level will also play a role in that choice.
There are a few different methods for transferring the graphic to the rubber. The first one is relatively easy but comes with the highest level of potential for making a mistake. Also, it doesn’t always work depending on what kind of ink and paper you are using. Brush the piece of rubber lightly with a small amount of water and lay the graphic face-down on it. Next, gently brush a small amount of water on the paper until it is soaked through. Be careful not to use an excess amount of water because this will cause your ink to run, destroying the picture. Once the image has transferred, very gently and carefully peel back the paper to view the graphic you just transferred. Do not attempt to blot or wipe off any excess water! Simply set the rubber piece aside and allow it to completely air dry before attempting the next step.
A second method of graphic transfer is utilizing light oil such as vegetable or olive oil instead of water. The process is the same except that once the graphic has transferred, you’re are going to allow it to sit for about a half hour to 45 minutes to allow the ink time to “set” and stain the rubber material. Once this has happened, you will then gently and very carefully blot the excess oil off using a soft cloth or paper towel.
If the graphic you want to transfer is open and relatively simple, you may want to use the third method using transfer paper, also known as carbon paper. Lay the transfer paper on the piece of rubber. You’re going to use straight pins to secure the graphic (face up) to the rubber so that it does not slide around. Then, using your pencil, trace the graphic onto the rubber material paying close attention to detail.
The last graphic transfer method yields the clearest transferred image in a literal ink transfer. It involves using heat. Now remember, the rubber can be melted by excess heat, so you’re going to have to be careful. The first step is to brush the piece of rubber material evenly but lightly with water. Next, you take the image that you want to transfer, place it upside down on a heat-safe surface, and press it with an iron set to medium-hot until the paper itself is hot. Immediately move the paper with the graphic to the rubber and place it face down. Cover it with the towel and press for half a minute to a minute. Check every few seconds to ensure that the rubber is not getting excessively hot. Remove the iron and towel and allow ample time for both the paper and the rubber to cool and then remove the paper.
Now that your graphic is transferred, finishing your rubber stamp is merely a matter of removing unwanted material. There are two methods for doing this. The first is called silhouetting. It creates a “negative” image and is accomplished by cutting away material only on the lines of the image. The more common method produces a true copy of the picture. This is where you use the v-shaped tool to remove all the rubber material that IS NOT on the lines. The v-shaped tool allows for optimal control when removing strips of the rubber material. You simply remove material that IS NOT on the lines until you have the desired image.
Try experimenting with different textures of rubber material, different graphics, and different methods of graphic transfer. These same methods have been used in wax stamps and wood block stamps, as well as eraser clay which is a polymer that can be baked into erasers. Only your imagination limits the possibilities. These techniques can be adapted to offer crafting options for a wide variety of crafts.
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