How to Make a Signature Rubber Stamp

Last weekend my husband and I visited the Worcester Art Museum near where we live. It’s a small but rich trove of art, ranging from Greek and Roman artifacts to contemporary art.

how to make a rubber stamp signature
My custom rubber stamp.

One painting that captivated me was James McNeill Whistler’s “Arrangement in Black and Brown: The Fur Jacket.” As I was studying the use of tonal color and the mesmerizing face of the woman in the portrait, I noticed a subtle symbol on the left-hand side of the painting near the bottom of the jacket hem. It looked like a cartouche or symbol of a butterfly.

As soon as I was within Googling range, I searched for more information and learned that Whistler often signed his work with this butterfly motif, a modification of his initials.

What a cool idea! So I decided to design my own “signature” motif and carve it into a rubber stamp.

I played with my initials until I got a design I liked. Then I drew it in pencil on a piece of paper, turned it over onto the rubber, and burnished the back. Now my design was transferred to the rubber in reverse.

I gathered my rubber stamping supplies: Speedball cutting tool, DistressTM ink, and rubber stamp carving material.

Using the cutting tool, I carved away the excess rubber. Following Julie Fei-Fan Balzer’s tips for how to make a stamp, I started with a narrow blade to cut the details (always cutting away from my body) and then switched to a wider blade to remove bigger pieces of rubber.

how to make a rubber stamp word
Julie Fei-Fan Balzer shows how to transfer a design, such as a word, onto stamp carving material in
‘Stamp-Making Adventures.’

I inked up the stamp and made a print to test it. I could see that I needed to cut away more rubber here and there and did so.

I inked it up and stamped again, until I was happy with the results. Now I have a custom rubber stamp I can use to sign my artwork with.

You can use stamping techniques to create your own signature design. It can be literal, like your actual signature, or more interpretive, like Whistler’s butterfly design.

For stamping ideas that are easy and artful, download a Cloth Paper Scissors Workshop® like Julie Fei-Fan Balzer’s “Stamp-Making Adventures: Carve, cut, & print one-of-a-kind designs” now.

P.S. How do you sign your work? Signature, initials, symbol or something else? Share in the comments section below.


Blog, Mixed-Media Supplies, Mixed-Media Techniques


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