Alphabet Stamping Techniques | 4 Tips from Julie Fei-Fan Balzer

Julie Fei-Fan Balzer is a beloved mixed-media artist who has a talent for creating vibrant art, and for teaching her techniques. Many of you are quite familiar with her unique style and expert instruction, both evident in the popular Art Journaling Live DVDs and in Julie’s book, Carve Stamp Play. In her book, Julie explains the basics of image transfers and rendering the alphabet, and also shares ideas on how and where to use stamps that you can create yourself. Here’s a snippet of Julie’s easy stamping techniques.

Artwork by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer

“I love that hand-carved stamps have a strong sense of the artist’s hand, and yet it’s easy to make multiple identical prints,” Julie says. “And I adore that those prints are authentically mine. In my mind, being artistically authentic is about accepting who I am as an artist and embracing my strengths and weaknesses (Tweet this!). There are things I’m good at and things I’m not good at. It’s not about comparing myself to anyone else, but rather about creating art with my hands and my heart that only I could have created. Authentic prints are a part of that. I can use a commercial stamp in an authentic way, but it takes many layers and a bit of work to really make it my own. When I use a hand-carved stamp, it’s immediately, authentically mine.”

And when it comes to using alphabet stamps you carve yourself, what could be more personal? You have endless possibilities for expressing sentiments. In a chapter dedicated specifically to creating letter stamps, Julie gives a step-by-step demonstration on how to create them, in addition to the great tips below.

“An alphabet isn’t hard to carve; it’s simply time consuming,” says Balzer. “If you choose to make a small alphabet, you can carve it in one long sitting of an hour or two. If you’re going for a large-sized alphabet, it’s going to take you a little while, and I recommend that you do it over a period of a few days. Just divide the alphabet up into a few groups (e.g., A–G, H–M, N–S, T–Z), and carve a group each day.”

Remember to draw your letter backwards,
so that the image transfer will read correctly.

Alphabet Stamps & Stamping Techniques | 4 Tips from Julie Fei-Fan Balzer

1. I usually draw the entire alphabet on one large block, then cut it into smaller blocks to carve, but you can cut, draw, and carve one block at a time if that’s more manageable.

2. Mix lowercase and uppercase letters in a single alphabet for a unique set of letters.

3. Store your hand-carved alphabets in little tins, like the ones you get when you buy mints.

4. To save rubber and carving time, three stamps can do double duty: “I” and “1,” “0” and “O,” and “N” and “Z.”

Imagine the things you could do with a set of alphabet stamps! Gift tags, birthday and holiday cards, party favors…there are endless possibilities for personalizing things with your special touch.

Do you use handmade or store-bought letter stamps? How so? Tell us in the comments section! Learn more from Julie and other favorite mixed-media artists with our Art Journaling LIVE Complete Collection (see everything that’s included here).

Until next time,


Blog, Mixed-Media Techniques


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