Hack Your Stamp Collection for Collage

I love rubber stamps. I have a whole collection of them with images that I just adore. But most of them I never use. Why? Because once you've used the image a few times, it gets boring. And it makes your art look the same, piece after piece.

stamped collage
Collage by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer using
cut apart stamps.

In fact, the only rubber stamps I still use regularly have abstract designs like dots or lines. These images and patterns are great for backgrounds and they blend into a collage better than the focal point images I spent so much money on.

stamp image for collage
Stamped image.

I've often thought of having a rubber stamp swap to economically get new images while passing on my old ones. But then I saw an interactive video/article by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer showing how to cut up your unmounted rubber stamps and use the pieces to make new images to use in collage. What a great idea!

For those who think cutting up acrylic or rubber stamps is heresy, Julie initially felt the same way. Then, she realized, "Essentially, cutting up stamps to use the particular bits you are attracted to is the exact same idea as cutting up papers to use in collage. You take the best of something and exploit it. It is this reassessment of my existing stamp collection that is so very exciting."

Reasons to Cut Stamps

  • stamp cut up for collage
    Cut-up stamp.

    Cutting allows you to separate words or phrases from images. Now you have two stamps (or more), each of which is more versatile.

  • Cutting allows you to change the size of any frame. Make it bigger or smaller to fit your needs.
  • While masking will allow you to use part of an image, it can become difficult if you're stamping more than once. Cutting allows you to create repeating patterns with very little fuss.   

Tips on Cutting

  • reassembled stamp
    Revamped stamp.

    Stamp your image and really look at how it's put together. This will help you figure out the best way to cut out the part of the stamp you want.

  • If you're nervous about cutting the actual stamp, try cutting the stamped image first. If it looks good, then go for the real thing.
  • Use a sharp pair of detail scissors and don't be shy. You've got to be a little aggressive with acrylic. Remember, it stretches, so you can push and pull as necessary.

Try "shopping" in your own stash and see what hidden treasures you can unearth with a snip of your scissors, advises Julie. You can get her full tutorial, with video, in the Cloth Paper Scissors interactive eMag, Collage in Color, available for Mac, PC, and iPad.

Categories

Blog, Collage, Mixed-Media Techniques

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