Tuesday 13 September 2011

New Skills Festival - carving stamps with Kirsty

Kirsty from Ginger & George is quite a new find for me but I was smitten by the first click though to her blog, lots of lovely inspirational things in store for you over there but first have a read of the great tutorial she has written for you...

Hello! I'm Kirsty, a freelance writer, designer-maker and online shopkeeper. I mostly write books for children, and create projects for magazines or my Etsy shop. I like illustration, pretty paper, vintage fabric and making things with my two small nephews.

Carving your own stamps from household erasers is much easier than you might think. It’s a slightly more sophisticated take on the classic classroom art of potato-stamping. But unlike potatoes, which are a lot trickier to cut smoothly in half than most children’s craft books will admit, erasers offer a completely flat surface which is perfect for creating stamped impressions. You can use them to carve all sorts of designs, from simple solid shapes to more detailed pictures, words and line-drawings. The fact that erasers – without wanting to cast even more aspersions on the humble potato - won’t shrivel up and start to rot after a day or two means your stamps will last much longer, too.

Tools of the trade
:: Large, flat plain erasers
:: A fine marker pen or sharp pencil
:: A craft knife
:: Inkpads or acrylic paint
:: A surface to stamp on (e.g. paper, card or fabric)

Step by step
1. Decide on a simple design and draw it on the surface of your eraser with a pencil or fine marker pen. (If you’re not confident drawing freehand or just want some extra inspiration, try printing out clip-art shapes or images from a picture font.)

Eraser stamping 1

2. Using a craft knife, carefully cut around the outline. Don’t cut right through the full depth of the eraser – a few millimetres is enough.

Eraser stamping 2

3. Make smaller cuts going out to the edges of the eraser to divide the negative space of the design into smaller sections.

Eraser stamping 3

4. Now, working from the side edges, begin to slice horizontally across the eraser towards the edges of your shape. Lift out each section of negative space as you cut.

Eraser stamping 4

5. hen you’ve finished, your design should be raised above the remaining part of the eraser. Don’t worry if the cut-away pieces around the edges look messy – as long as your design has a good, smooth outline, it will stamp perfectly.

Eraser stamping 5

6. Tap an inkpad over the surface of the shape and then press down firmly onto a piece of paper or card.

Eraser stamping 6
Eraser stamping 7

7. Add any extra details (entirely optional) with a fine marker or sharp pencil.

Eraser stamping 8

8. Turn your stamped impression into anything you like - with a few scraps of patterned paper, this one became a tiny collage.

Eraser stamping - framed

Ready made

Shaped erasers are a quick and super-easy alternative to carving your own. There are all sorts of cute designs available, and you can stamp with them just as you would with a hand-carved version.

Eraser stamping - flower eraser

Eraser stamping - flower 1

Eraser stamping - flower 2

Eraser stamping - flower 3

Lines and details
Once you get a little more confident at carving your own designs, you might want to try adding more detail. To do this, you’ll ideally need to invest in a lino-cutting tool. I found mine at a local art shop for just a few pounds, but a quick Google search gives you plenty of online options, too.
Using the finest tip on the tool, it’s quite simple to trace over the outline of a drawing to create something like this:

Eraser stamping - space

You can also combine the idea with your shaped stamp designs.

Eraser stamping - hi 

NB. Don’t forget words will appear as a mirror image when you stamp. To avoid a carving disaster, write them onto plain paper first, flip it over and then trace onto the surface of your eraser. 
You can also use the lino-cutter to carve away the inner parts of a design (i.e. areas you wouldn’t be able to trim with a craft knife), again creating a slightly more complicated image.

Eraser stamping - phone

Adding several stamped shapes together, you can build up different types of pictures and scenes.

Eraser stamping - cars 2

Eraser stamping - cars 1

And, as with the house collage before, you can use them to make finished projects, like this fun birthday card.
Eraser stamping - hi 2

Eraser stamping - card

Obviously, craft knives are very sharp, and the same is true of lino-cutting tools. If you’re not happy for your children to use them, it doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy an activity like this – you’ll just need to work on it together. They can draw out the shapes and designs, you can take care of the tricky cutting and carving part, and they can take over again when it comes to creating inky impressions with the finished stamps.
I hope you might decide to have a go at creating your own stamps, and would love to see how they turns out if you do. You can find me (along with plenty more projects and tutorials) at my blog or Etsy store
Thanks for reading, and thanks so much for having me, Jo!


  1. This looks incredibly cute! Thank you for sharing the tutorial!:)

  2. What a great idea! Thank You :).

  3. Wow. Adorable! And super easy. Now if I could just schedule an extra couple of hours in my day.

  4. I totally love the idea of using erasers (such as that floral one) for stamping! How fun! I love the simple stamp shape combined with your own ink/pencil details. Gonna have to try this with my kidlets!


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