Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Step Six: Stamp madness...

Dear Fi,

There are so many things I would like to share today that I don’t know where to start. Yesterday evening when I couldn’t think anymore about my papers, resumes, and deadlines I got this crazy urge to make a stamp. I was tired. However, I wasn’t ready to go to bed and my brain was swollen from all this reading, writing and thinking. I thought about other things I could do, instead of making a stamp, before going to bed but even reading a book felt too painful to me. The “stamp idea” was stubbornly flashing in my head until finally I decided to give it a try. If I want to be honest I need to admit that I have wanted to make a stamp for... years. And I never did. As I never did maaaany other things.

Anyway, yesterday I took out some tools and an artist carving block (which I brought from San Francisco only to find, one week later, that I can get them in my university bookstore he, he). I started... actually... I wasn’t sure what I was doing. I wasn’t sure which cutting tool to use first, I even didn’t draw anything. I thought that it would be OK to be spontaneous since I was sure that the first one will go to waste anyway. Besides, I wanted to learn something and to discover “stuff” on my own. 

There was a sign on the carving block which stated “cuts like butter”. I quickly learned that this was true, which works as both an advantage and disadvantage (especially if you are a carving novice). It was very easy to carve but unfortunately it was even easier to destroy whatever I did if I didn’t pay enough attention to my hand. After I finished carving my first stamp ever I realized that I don’t have an ink pad. After searching for a while I found an old one which was gold (sic!) and dry (sic!). When I tried to use it anyway I rubbed away a piece of my stamp, yes it was that delicate, and yes it was a lesson I won’t forget ;) Since my old dry ink pad didn’t work I tried to use paint. Oh! my luck - it didn’t work either. The paint dried so quickly that I had a problem detaching my stamp from the piece of paper. In the end yesterday’s experiment was a disaster. I couldn’t even see how the stamp turned out since I was unable to print it on paper. I went to bed very disappointed, I wasn’t sure what I would do today.

In the morning after dropping off my son at the bus stop and my daughter to preschool I came back home and sat in my not so comfy red armchair. For about 20 minutes of my precious time alone all I could do was sit in this chair, breath, and drink coffee. I was contemplating my choices... stay in red armchair and do nothing, go back to bed, start to do something, anything?

I think that sitting still helped me because I got an idea. I imagined a nice square paper with nine divine coloured hearts beautifully printed and framed. I wanted to make these stamp hearts, at least six of them, each with a different patterns. However, I had no idea how to do this, I had only one piece of carving block and the worst thing was that I didn’t have any ink pads.

I started to carve, and I need to say that it was a very meditative process for me. Surprisingly, I was able to finish my project before picking up my son from the bus stop. It was very good timing. I could go to the store to buy some ink pads before lunch. The only problem was... I really didn’t like how my stamp looked, I couldn’t imagine if it will work, and I was honestly afraid that it would be another disaster. However, after applying ink on my carved block I couldn’t stop staring at it. It wasn’t a disaster at all!!!

When I stopped staring and then printing it on paper (which wasn’t that easy at all, there is lot about printing I need to learn) I took pictures. Dozens of pictures, and I couldn’t stop doing this either. However, it was time to cook dinner, time to take Bruno to his piano lesson, time to eat dinner and clean up, time to put the kids to bed... and... here I am nine o’clock (again!) writing this post.

As you see my Dear Fi, there was no “final” outcome, no nine divine hearts nicely framed in a square frame. However, there are a lot of ideas, and the satisfaction of trying something new and liking it. I think I’ve become enchanted by the art of stamp making. Also, I’m afraid that it might become my new addiction which wouldn’t be bad if the supplies weren’t that expensive!

BTW, somebody asked me very nicely to post this picture as a message for a :*SSS*: Special Sweet Somebody you know...

Below are the pictures of the process and some advice:

1. If you have never carved a stamp, please go visit Geninne's blog and watch her tutorial before even touching anything he, he.
2. Or, at least think before, with naive enthusiasm, starting your project. I mean, be sure that before you fit six or eight hearts on one carving block you will be able to divide them later to use them separately.
3. No matter what: don’t draw on your carving block! It really is soft like butter and I almost got a heart attack after touching the block with my pencil. Geninne has a better way of doing this. However, I was “above” transferring any drawing from paper to the carving block because I thought it would take me a lot more time than just drawing right on the block. Next time I won’t be. Besides, next time I will have this cute bone folder I couldn’t afford today after spending money on these beautiful and unfortunately rather expensive ink pads.




  1. OH MY GOODNESS MEEEE! You are crazy! :-) This is INSANELY good! This is your second go? I can't stop laughing! This is brilliant! :-)

    I'm wondering now... (ha ha! don't faint!) if maybe you need to start a shop and sell these things. I'm being totally serious. I know you're pushed for time at the moment, but honestly! This is too good to keep to yourself!

    ooh - and a tip I learned the other day - if you don't want to cut up your stamp but still want to use them individually (do NOT cut up that stamp, or I'm getting the next flight over there to have words with you! ha!) is to mask the paper you're printing onto with bits of scrap paper. Leave only the bit you want to print onto exposed.

    I love all of this! I even think the stamp itself with the red ink on it is a work of art! :-)

    I am in awe of what you created! And your pics are gorgeous too! And that Danbo pic is sooo cute! I love the tag (especially the little heart punch-holes!) I'll show Daniellebo, she'll be impressed! ;-)

    Ok, I'll shut up now. But SERIOUSLY! This is ALL amazing! :-)

    Btw, why are those chocolates even still in existence?! You've had them for about a week. That's not normal! ;-)))

    Fi xx

  2. Hello, I'm back again! :-) I should be posting this Tuesday's post, but I'm still hooked on your last Tuesday stamp madness, so thought I'd read your post again! How are you? Recovered from your stamping adventures, or still at it till all hours of the night?! :-) If I just had all the materials, I know I'd be addicted too! I'll need to have a look online for them. It looks like a lot of fun and Jeanine's blog is so fab - I love her feather stamp tutorial - it's very inspiring. Although, the stamp material looks ridiculously soft - I think I'd have a few accidents, probably gouging a channel right through the middle of my design a few times by mistake! ha! :-) Can't wait to see any more ones you do. xx