The Allure of Stamp Carving | 11 Carving Basics for Printmaking

The following is a free preview of the newest Lettering Lesson with Jodi Ohl, brought to you by Cloth Paper Scissors! Learn about stamp carving when you download this lesson here today!

Stamp Carving Basics | Jodi Ohl,

I find the practice of art calming. The reason I find it so soothing is that you can get lost in your thoughts while creating. It’s as if fears are cast away and dreams are created with each brushstroke. While my main method of creating is painting, there are times I just don’t have it in me to get out all my supplies, yet I still want to do something restorative. Hand carving stamps is a great option for those times.

What makes carving stamps so relaxing is the repetitive motion of the blade gliding along the buttery carving block. Though it’s a slow process, it’s invigorating. While stamp carving takes practice, you’ll see that once you have the basics down, you’ll be creating all kinds of stamps in no time. Letters and words are some of my favorite things to carve, and they’re great for adding a hand-lettered touch when you’re short on time.

In this Lettering Lesson, we’ll create some words and phrases in a few different ways. I like to keep my stamps pretty basic, preferring to adorn the images with markers, pens, and paint pens after I stamp them. You may prefer to carve embellishments on the stamps themselves. There’s no right or wrong way to carve stamps; that’s part of the allure. You’ll also discover how gratifying it is to see your handiwork come to life in a relatively short period of time. My hope is that you will be inspired to try carving your own designs.

Stamp Carving Basics | Jodi Ohl,

11 Basics of Stamp Carving

  1. Ensure the blade is in the chuck of the tool tightly. Check again after you’ve been carving for a while, as the blade can loosen from the pressure of carving.
  2. Always cut away from you to avoid injury.
  3. Test your tools. If you are new to stamp carving, cut a small piece of the carving block and practice with each of the blades. It’s important to know how the block feels, how it cuts, and what types of marks can be made with each blade. As time goes on, you’ll be able to instinctively know which size blade is needed for the job you are doing.
  4. Start off small, outline your main design, and then keep moving up in blade size as you cut around larger, more expansive areas.
  5. Rotate the carving block as you move the carving tool. You’ll find it easier to navigate curves by moving the block, rather than moving your hand.
  6. Take your time. The tools are very sharp and can cause injury (not to mention your design can be impacted by a slip of your hand).
  7. If you are a beginner, start off with basic block letters that have less detail until you feel more confident. Add more detail to your designs, like serifs and flourishes, as your technique improves.
  8. The carved image will be reversed, so when you’re drawing letters, it’s best to sketch the word out on paper first, and then turn the paper over to burnish or transfer the word to the carving block.
  9. Test out the stamp by inking it as you finalize your design. Any errant marks will appear on the test. Simply carve away the extra areas.
  10. Whatever you carve away will be white space in the design.
  11. Save the carving block scraps for future projects.

Click here to continue learning more about stamp carving in this new
Lettering Lesson from Jodi Ohl and Cloth Paper Scissors!


Blog, Mixed-Media Techniques, Printmaking
Jodi Ohl

About Jodi Ohl

i'm a mixed media artist, writer and instructor who loves the adventure of art making and meeting like minded individuals! I'm from Aberdeen, NC and the mother of two young men (no longer boys ) ages, 15 and 21


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