Technique Thursday - Carving a background stamp by Donna Gray

Hi everyone,

It's Donna here today and I'll be showing you how to carve your very own background stamp. Sounds scary? Not at all, I'll show you how to and then you'll all want to rush out and try it!!

I thought it would be a good idea to show you all this technique as this is how Carved Whimsy Wood was created originally and then Bibi worked her magic to transform my carvings into that stamp set....clever huh :)

Warning - Photo heavy post!

These are the products I use to carve with. The pink block is real rubber and carves like a dream. The blue block is actually a vinyl material but this carves like a dream too and is a lot cheaper but it's a bit harder to get hold of. The stamping quality on both is exactly the same I've found.

This is the tool I started out with and it's perfect for a beginner. I highly recommend this stamp carving kit if you want to try it for yourself. It's not expensive, you get the tool and rubber and also some neat little drawings that you can trace to get yourself started.

As I'm aiming this at complete beginners, I thought I'd show you something really simple that you can carve when you're starting out. I would recommend starting out with simple shapes like circles, squares etc just to get a feel of the tool and the whole concept of carving. Basically don't run before you can walk as you may get disheartened but the more complex carvings will come in me ;)
In the above picture this really is all you need to get starting carving a background stamp. You will notice the carving tool has changed. This is a more expensive one but oh my word the level of finer detail you can achieve with it is amazing, one to upgrade to when you become more confident.
Here you can see that I've just roughly drawn some little triangles on the rubber as my template to start the carving.

Here you can see the process of carving the rubber is well underway. Just remember that what you want to stamp with must be left un carved! Also don't forget if you want to carve words you must reverse them or else it will be back to front when you come to stamp it.

As you can see most of the rubber around the little triangles has now been carved away. Take it slowly as it really is a process to enjoy and you'll be less likely to make mistakes too. Don't forget once you've carved too much you can't put it back so it's always better to be cautious at first.

I always trim the rubber down when I've finished carving as it just makes it neater and obviously takes up less space to store also. If you see how many I have now in my collection you would know that space is at a premium!

When you're happy with what you've carved you now need to test it out to see what it stamps like. Just ink it up like any normal rubber stamp and then stamp on a piece of scrap paper to check the image. Here I could see there were still some carved marks that I didn't want so I went back in and carved those out. This is entirely up to you if you want to keep the more carved effect or want a cleaner image. I used to make sure I carved every single little carved mark out but now I tend to leave more of them in as I like the effect it gives.

Okay, so here we are after the second carving, much neater and I'm now happy with it. Depending on how intricate your original design is this could take a few go's at tidying up until you are satisfied with it. Also because the rubber is so thick if you do make a mistake and don't like it anymore, then just turn it over and start the process again. I try never to waste any of the rubber if I can help it.

So now of course we need something to try out our background stamp on so I reached for my little stash of prepared tags that were the result of a Gelli print session. This is just paint that was on the brayer in between paint applications so I wiped it on the tag.

Here is the stamp inked up and stamped directly onto the tag...not bad then huh?! If you want to attach it to an acrylic block just use a little bit of Pritt Stick but if the stamp is small you really don't need it to be honest as you just stamp it without the block.

I just went around the triangles with a white pen for a little bit of a contrast but you can select whatever colour you want, if any.

After I did that I looked at it and I thought it needed something else so I grabbed a little piece of the blue 'rubber' I had leftover from another carving and drew some circles on it and carved them out in exactly the same way as the triangles were done. I then stamped it randomly over the background which I think helped to fill the background out more without over powering it.

To finish off the tag, I used stamps from Carved Whimsy Wood (the tree and flower) and Whimsical Summer (the cloud and sun). The images were coloured with Zig Clean Colour pens apart from the lollipop tree which was stamped on a scrap of Gelli printed paper. A final bit of doodling with a white Posca pen and a Tim Holtz sticker sentiment completes the tag nicely.

I really, really hope I've encouraged some of you to try the stamp carving for yourselves, it really doesn't have to be complicated as these carvings aren't that I created and really didn't take long to do either. I now have some nice little stamps that I can use on all my backgrounds and guess what....yes no one else will have them so you can create something special to accompany all your lovely bought Rubber Dance stamps.....YAY!!!

Stamp Used:

Carved Whimsy Wood

Whimsical Summer

Hope you like it and if you have any questions just give me a shout ;)
Donna xx


Unknown said…
Excellent tutorial. Thanks so much for sharing your tips!
Beautiful tag Donna.I should try this stamp carving.
Caroline said…
I am over the moon that you have shared this with us!!! I honestly didn't think I'd ever be able to carve stamps. Now, I definitely plan to try. Thank YOU, Donna for being so generous & your tag is FAB!😄
Bibi Lindahl said…
Fabulous post, Donna! I am so glad that you shared this with us. I bought carving matierals a long time ago, after you had showed me some of your carved beauties, but I STILL haven't taken the materials out of the box!! I guess I have no more excuses now ;-) Thank you so much for sharing! Very inspiring! ♥ ♥ ♥
Fliss said…
Thanks so much for sharing this Donna as I have a kit but have been too nervous to get started. Think I might give it a go now!
Love what you did with those lovely background stamps too.
Fliss xxx
Awesome make and brilliant post! Now I really want to try it 💕
Sue said…
Gorgeous tag Donna and a brilliant tutorial xx
Craftyfield said…
Great tutorial and kudos for achieving these results Donna! I must say I'm still daunted by the idea but, you never know, if I find myself in need of a specific design it will give me the motivation to try!
Ink Art Designs said…
Wow, great tutorial Donna! I think I would love to have a go at making some stamps. They would be soooo handy to have.
Dot x
Thank you so much everyone for your kind comments, please give it a go and you’ll be hooked on it 🙂
Donna xx
Susanne Rose said…
Brilliant! Thank you for the tutorial!!!

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