Basic Skills | Rubber Stamp Carving

One of my all time favorite ways of printing fabric is by carving my own rubber stamps. It’s very similar to wood or lino block carving but far easier. The pink rubber blocks are smooth to carve and more versatile than woodblocks because they easily print on fabric. Let’s dive right in and carve a two color stamp set of a wise old owl.

Materials:

Print out the owl and belly designs as they are, do not mirror the image or make them larger or smaller. Get the print out here.

Cut the designs out leaving enough paper to completely cover the rubber block. Lay the design face down on the block and iron the paper on a low setting so the image transfers to the block. Do not let the iron touch the block or it will melt. Continue to iron and periodically lift the corner of the paper to make sure it’s transferring.

If the image seems too faint use a pen or pencil to darken the outlines before you begin. My carving looks a bit different because I drew my designs directly onto the block but it’s the same basic concept. You’re going to use a thin carving tip first and outline your design before going back in and removing the large negative space areas. To create texture use the small tip and slowly scrape away at the rubber to create a textured appearance.

When the carving is all done, trim the empty bulk with the scissors so that when you’re stamping you can see the outline of  the design from the back to help with pattern placement. If you’re not sure about any of your details, rub the side of a pencil over the design to darken the raised areas making the overall pattern easier to see.

Finally, trace the outline of the design onto the foam sheet and cut it out. Stick the adhesive side of the foam to your clear stamp block and then glue the rubber carving to the foam using a good all purpose glue. Lay a heavy book down on top of the rubber and let it dry over night for a good strong bond that won’t come loose when the stamp is washed.

Repeat all of this will the owl belly and you’re done! Use your stamp on paper as you would any rubber stamp, or use it on textiles with fabric paint rolled on or with fabric ink stamp pads such as those from VersaCraft. When washing the stamp be careful not to fully submerge it in water for too long or the glue will loosen and the stamp will fall off of the foam. It’s not a big deal as it can just be glued back on but it sure is annoying.

Good luck and have fun!

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