Friday, May 15, 2009

Rubber stamp printing

I continue to fiddle around with different ways to print fabric. Carving stamps is still one of my favorites. You may remember that I had a bunch of my family members carving stamps at the cabin a couple years ago. I decided to carve one that I can use for a repeating pattern. Here it is drawn on the stamp carving material before I started to carve it.

I have several kinds of carving materials. I don't remember where I got this pink stuff, but I think it was pretty inexpensive and, as it turns out, isn't as good as some others. It is softer, which actually makes it harder to carve and get nice, crisp cuts. Imagine the difference between slicing soft mozzarella cheese and cutting a firmer cheese like Swiss. The mozzarella is bouncy and compresses instead of cutting. Similar problem with this material. But it worked for my purposes. I wouldn't use it for anything I wanted precise and detailed.

The tools I used included block cutting tools and an exacto knife, which was good for sharp corners. The black lines are the design that will print, so I carved out the areas between the black lines. When you cut, the v-shapes cutters work really nicely because you get a cut that slants away from the part that will print. This makes your stamp stronger than if the sides of those printing lines are cut straight down.

When I finished the cutting the stamp I "proofed" it using a stamp pad and a scrap of paper. My first stamp was the one at the bottom right. I could see that it needed to be cleaned up and some areas cut away a bit more. The final image is the one at the top left. It is rustic, but a pretty clean image.

You can use the stamp just as it is, or mount it on something. For repeating designs I like to mount the stamp on a square of clear plexiglas a little bigger than the image. You can then hold onto the plexi and keep fingers out of both the paint or ink and off the fabric you are printing. Because you can see through the plexi, you can position the design exactly where you want it.

Here is the first piece of fabric I printed with it. I love the secondary grid pattern that forms. When you print on fabric the images are never as sharp as on paper, but that is fine for me. I like the mottled texture and inconsistencies.

I think this stamp will have a lot of uses.


  1. Wow, this looks great repeated on the fabric. I'm curious to know what you use to adhere the stamp to the plexiglas.

  2. You mention some nuances I've never heard before in the random instruction I've gotten about making stamps. Looking forward to learning more from ya!

  3. Terry,
    I love how the fabric turned out! Did you stamp with fabric paint?

  4. Yup: the secondary pattern is what really interests me the most here. This is great Terry!


  5. Beautiful -- and fun, I believe. The plexy idea is clever. Nice pattern, looks South American or so, is it?

  6. Great stuff, Terry,thanks! For those of us who have a hard time holding on to things, a suction cup with a hook (meant for washcloths, towels, etc) is a big help on the other side of the plexi.

  7. The repetition looks great and I love all the X's it formed. Fun stuff!