How to make custom stamps

Today we’re sharing how to make easy custom stamps. We’re using two stamp-making methods: carving away negative space and adding material (taking a little cheaters shortcut). Both are easy ways to create your own unique stamp designs and personalised messages. You can use them on their own, together, or in combination with pre-fab stamps to create all sorts of fun projects. These stamps were used to make DIY pet gift wrap, including recycled pillow boxes and crackers. Happy howlidays indeed!

Wrap, Rip, Recycle!

We made DIY recycled and recyclable gift wrap for some of our pets’ presents. Our dogs love tearing into boxes, paper, cardboard rolls, and gift wrapping. Sometimes it seems like they’re more excited about the ripfest than the gifts inside! Haha! I’ve been hording used packing paper for Christmas this year. I also keep a roll of both kraft and butchers paper in my creative supplies. Decorating wrappings for pet gifts is totally optional, of course, as is making your own stamps instead of buying ready-made stamps. And the stamps can be used and reused on whatever you please, not just for making wrapping paper.

DIY recycled and recyclable gift wrapping for pets

Carving Your Own Custom Stamps

Stamp Carving Supplies and Materials

To carve your own custom stamps, you will need a carving material and some cutting and carving tools. This can be as simple as a potato and a knife (the classic), but we’re making ours with a simple inexpensive eraser, a precision utility cutter, and basic carving tools.

  • Carving Material
  • Cutting and Carving Tools

A vinyl eraser is a cheap stand-in for stamp carving rubber or lino blocks, but is nowhere near as nice to cut or carve as the real supplies. It’s best reserved for small and simple projects. The bigger and more basic the shape, the easier it will be to carve. A basic one-part shape, like our bone, is much easier than multiple shapes or anything detailed. Start with something simple, especially if you’re making little stamps.

How to carve simple homemade stamps

Carving Stamps

  • Prepare your stamp carving material by cutting to size (if needed).
  • Draw (or transfer) your outline on your carving material. Remember, your design will be reversed when stamped. If you are making a letter or other directional design, don’t forget to flip it to a mirror image.
  • Optional: When I’m working on mini-stamps, I like to mark a little line on the outside edges as well, to remind me not to cut too deep. I can always cut more, but I can’t magically put material back if I’m too heavy handed. Little bits, like my paw tips, could just crack off if carved too deeply.
  • Optional: With a precision cutting tool, carefully trace a shallow cut along the outline of your shape. This is optional, but I find it difficult to carve precisely around little tiny shapes, and this extra prep work helps my material to separate cleanly.
  • Carve to remove the material from around your shape. Remember – not too deep!
  • Test stamp and check for areas where there is ink on your material, contact from negative space around the shape in the print, or any other areas that need a little tweak.
  • Carve to correct if/as needed. Retest until you’re happy. Done!

Additional Finishing (Optional)

  • After carving, you can use your precision cutter to flatten and level out the finished carved negative space for an extra pretty stamp. It doesn’t affect the usefulness, just polishes the look.
  • If you find that you need a little more finger space for using small stamps or extra pressure for larger stamps, you can stick your carving onto a bigger backing. 

Creating Stamps with Raised Materials

Raising Instead of Carving

An alternative to carving out your shapes is to raise them up instead. Craft foam shapes (pre-fab or self-cut) are an easy option for making your own custom stamps. Foam is not as durable as proper stamping materials, but that can actually open up a whole new creative opportunity. In addition to cutting foam into shapes, you could crush the foam to indent fine designs or embossed textures. 

Depending on the side of your stamp and the thickness of your raised letters/shapes, you might find it easier (and cleaner) to roll on your ink with a brayer instead of inking on a stamp pad.

Foam Stamp Making Supplies and Materials

Since I’m lazy and can’t be bothered to print, trace, and precision cut my own letters for this project, I’m cheating. I’m using foam alphabet Thickers (affiliate link) which are ready-made thick stickers instead. To make your own similar stamps, you’ll need Thickers (or cut DIY shapes with craft foam), a mounting block, and glue for sticking on any letters that aren’t natural mirror images.

  • Thickers or craft foam
  • Mounting Block
  • Adhesive or glue
  • Sealing materials (optional)

If you’re using wood to cut and make bases, like I did, finishing is optional but helpful. If you’re planning to reuse either your stamps or their mounting blocks, you might like to paint, varnish, or seal the wooden bases before you create the stamps. Clean-up is easier and likely to warp or damage your wooden bases. My mounting blocks are simple pieces of scrap wood, sanded and sealed.

Creating custom stamps using foam cut outs

Making the Sticker Stamps

  • Prepare your base mounting block(s). 
  • Position your Thickers (or other shapes) so that they are a mirror image of what you wish to stamp. Words have to be spelled from end-to-beginning and any letters that don’t look the same when flipped will need to be flipped sticky-side-up and glued instead. Stick or glue your letters into place. A glue that is waterproof/resistant is handy not only so that things stay secure, but for lightly coating the top of any flipped letters to eliminate their stickiness. 
  • Once stuck in place and any glue is dry, coat the tops of any sticky-side up letters in glue or an alternative sealer of your choice to cover the stickiness. Choose something that is water-resistant when fully dry, but not repellent as it can affect carriage of your inks.
  • Allow to dry fully before use.
How to make your own custom stamps

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