Sunday, 5 April 2015

Make Your Own Stamps - various methods.

When I look at Youtube, I could be forgiven for thinking I am the only crafter on the planet who does not own any stamps. Not a single one. Partly this is because to me the fun of crafting is making your own stuff and I don't really want the same things as everyone else. The other part is that I can't buy them locally. I went into the local 'craft' shop. They had ONE stamp. That was it.

However, if I could make my own, it would be totally different. Sometimes it would be nice to be able to stamp a sentiment or embellishment, especially if I have a card that is already made but needs something extra.

The other thing I don't have is a Big Shot or anything like that, so if you want to learn how to make stamps with those, you'll have to go elsewhere, sorry! I do have a Silver Bullet though and was keen to see if that could be used in any way to make stamps.

I set about looking for a suitable material (what, me buy custom craft stuff? Pfft!) and started scouring the drawers and cupboards for something that may do the trick.

The first thing that came to mind was craft foam. Give it it's due, it will do great stamps if you are looking at things that are not too detailed but forget making small sentiments. A large one, yes, but hand writing size, no. This snowflake is about an inch and a half across and prints just fine, as you can see. Moreover, you can buy it anywhere here. It literally follows you around the shops.
The next thing to try was some shelf liner, the thick plastic stuff that you can buy anywhere these days. It's cheap and tough but the SB will cut it, no problem!
The problem here is that even on the smooth side, the bumps stop a smooth impression and you end up with a distressed look. Fine for some things and I do quite like the snowflake like that but not for sentiments.  Also may be worth considering if you want to add touches of sparkle, not a solid block. I did cut a sentiment, very small, the weeding was tough but it could be done.
 The effect however was not worth it. If you try it, you'll need a needle or dental tool to get the bits out of letter loops.

Some people use hot glue to make shapes but although happy to use them for embellishments, I have found that they don't stamp well, leaving missing bits. It must be due to the uneven height of the glue.

I even tried cutting up rubber gloves. No, don't bother, they are too stretchy, like the dried silicone I tried to cut, a no go! I tried the sandwich method too but it didn't work. Believe me when I say life is too short. It really is.

Thinking again, I went out and bought some Plastilina - a sort of modelling stuff made in Spain by Jovi. It felt really hard in the block but once warmed in the hand it is wonderful. Smooth, silky and nicely pliable. I could spend hours playing around with it. Oh all right, I admit it, I DID spend hours playing with it. All in the name of research, honest!

I took the snowflake that was cut out of shelf liner and pressed it into the Plastilina. I used a hand embossing tool to push it in a bit more, trying to make it even. I pulled it out and there was a clear mould. I filled it with Silicone (the stuff used in bathroom sealing) and left it to dry out. This was the result, when  inked.
Bearing in mind that I took no care to clean around it, I still got a pretty decent image. The deeper your mould the better.

Playing with the Plastilina, I also found it made good stamping material by itself, if you want a bit of freehand work. You can place shapes on your block and use it as is -
I recommend using shims either side when you do this so you get the clay rolled evenly to avoid missing bits. I didn't do that for this test. The beauty of it is that you can rinse the stuff off under the tap, pat it dry and re use it. You can carve it too if you wish and the kids can have fun doing it too. Maybe a great idea for doing silly T Shirts, bigger stuff that does not need high detail.

In my  quest, I thought of something else (I don't just think outside the box but outside the lorry the box came in) and that was to use the SB to emboss some thin metal sheet and use that as a mould. This met with a problem ( I didn't use any release agent) in that the silicone I used stuck. Oops.
It didn't dry either, though not sure if this was due to me being impatient or the surface. Will have to test that one again!

I did find that you could do an embossed design and then take a mould using the Plastilina, using which ever side you wanted. As long as the emboss is deep enough that works quite well. You can then either make a silicone mould or just use the Plastilina directly.

Another option may be to use the clay on a paper backing, under the metal and emboss directly into it. It would depend on the metal, design and pressure used but is worth giving a try. Again, use shims to make sure the material is rolled flat for best results. I may try to use hot glue in one of these moulds and see what happens but I haven't had time yet.

My final method was to try cutting hot glue (after it had cooled, naturally!) I cut a rectangle in a piece of foam, filled it with glue and tried to spread it. It didn't work too well, maybe because I have a small glue gun and I don't think it gets the glue that runny. Anyhow, I did a sample but I'd made it too thick and couldn't cut it well. If you try this, I suggest you use the thinner foam. The edges adhere to the foam so at least it makes it less likely to move on the mat...
I think that if you could make it a nice even 1mm thick, it would cut and still be tough enough to cut sentiments. The other side feels like it would stamp well. I just  cut a bit of my sample with scissors and it's 2mm thick and really tough. 
This has promise guys!

Incase anyone wonders, I used normal acrylic paints to stamp, applied with a cosmetic sponge in a clip, like this. That way I didn't get paint under my nails.
The paint was just put on a piece of vinyl backing for ease of clean up! For any stamps that don't automatically cling to a block (or in my case a piece of perspex) I used temporary spray on adhesive.

If you want to make your own ink pads, don't forget you can use old make up compacts, single eye shadow ones etc. Just add a thick enough craft foam for the well and add your own inks. Thicken inks with glycerine if needed. Don't use normal acrylic paint on pads as it will dry in the pad. A pad with glycerine added to it will be great for use as an embossing pad.

As yet, no answer to detailed stamping but many alternatives for more basic shapes, trees, snow scenes etc.  To cut craft foam, make shallow cuts first and gradually get the depth you need by repeat cuts and then increasing the blade depth if you need to. You will get a much smoother result. Even the normal 45 blade for the Silver Bullet can cut 2mm foam perfectly.

So there you have it, my foray into the world of stamping. Hope you enjoyed it!

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