Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Carving a Background Stamp

While shoving strolling through the 2011 International Quilt Festival shopping are, I ran across the colouricious.com exhibit and found this lovely Indian Printing Block. I was delighted to take it home with me, where it sat unused for about a year.

I had an idea that a solid background stamp would add some interest to the original design, and that I should carve this stamp. I was fortunate to attend, also in 2011, Jane LaFazio and Pamela Underwood's Lavender Sage Art Retreat in Austin, TX, where we carved stamps that we designed. Armed with these skills, I jumped right in.

Here's is what I used:
Speedball Carving Set (carving tool and stamp block blank)
tissue paper
oil pastel in light brown color
stylus for tracing
Stayz-on stamp pads in several contrasting colors
Muslin and paper

Original stamp on tissue paper, outlined with oil pastel
First, I stamped the original stamp on tissue paper. (above) I outlined the shape in oil pastel, which is soft and smeary, just what I wanted for this job. I flipped the design over on to a stamp carving blank block and used a stylus to go over the outline. The smeary oil pastel design was transferred to the block. (left) Using my basic little Speedball stamp carving tool, I began removing the portions of the block that I did not want to include in the image. (left)
Here's what it looked like when I finished carving it and slapped a purple stamp pad on it. It was not difficult to carve because I kept the shape simple, and the image stamped beautifully.

What I have learned about the original stamp is that it does not work well on paper (at least not index cards) because the detail is lost, but that it works much better on fabric, although not as well as I would like. I think this might have had do do with the surface upon which I was stamping. I used a dropcloth over a cutting board and it may have been too hard. 
Stamps on index cards, much of the detail stamp is lost.
Background and original stamps on fabric;
better but not as detailed as I would like.
In conclusion, I think I can get the image that I want by stamping on fabric on a padded surface, yet to be determined. If you give this a try, please comment and let us know what worked best for you.

Update: After all my experimentation, I discovered a video on the colouricious.com site that helped immensely: Inspired Block Printing with Jamie Malden.


  1. All I can come up with is did you carve deeply enough? It's very pretty but I'm not sure which parts of the design you want to take the ink and which you want to leave blank. Know what I mean?

  2. Hi, No"e&quotl,

    Yes, I know what you mean. The detail stamp is deeply carved, so that's not it. I think a change of paint and a change of stamping surface will get me what I want. I'll report back. Thanks for the suggestion!