Use Custom Rubber Stamps to Make Design Patterns

When I first started using rubber stamps, I was drawn to the ones with a picture or words. Stamps that were an end unto themselves. Then one day I ordered a stamp from an artist and she threw in a couple of extras, including one with donut-shaped dots.

design made with a custom rubber stamp
Pattern made from this custom rubber stamp,
by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer.

I admit, I was sort of annoyed. I mean, thanks for sending something extra, but what was I going to do with it? Nevertheless, I inked it up and gave it a try.

Do I need to tell you it has become one of my favorite rubber stamps? I didn’t think so.

That experience opened my eyes to the versatility of abstract or geometric stamps. They make great backgrounds and borders and are perfect for filling in a little space that needs a little … something.

Recently I learned another rubber stamping trick: how to use a custom rubber stamp to create a pattern. You can do this with almost any stamp that isn’t a picture. But it works best with geometric shapes that are “open” at the sides, allowing the stamped images to connect to each other.

If you want to get fancy, carve your own stamp and “spin” the printed images to make a design.

1. To carve a stamp like this, start with a curve on one corner and a curve on the opposite corner (it doesn’t have to be a curve; it could be a point or a right angle, but a curve is an easy way to start).

plan before rubber stamp carving
Plan out your design before carving your custom rubber stamp.

2. Carve out the rest of your design, leaving the curves intact.

3. Print the first image. Re-ink your stamp and turn (or spin) it 90 degrees so that the ends of the curves meet up making a half circle. Stamp again, and repeat the process two more times.

You should now have a design with a “center.”

Once you start making theses stamps, you will start to see patterns everywhere.  Make a note of them in your sketchbook for future use.

stamping to make a pattern
See how the curves match up as you
rotate the stamp 90 degrees each
time you print it?

Try experimenting with some rubber stamps you already own. Then try rubber stamp carving with fun foam and a ballpoint pen to get the hang of this technique and proceed to using a lino cutter handle and blades and lino or rubber stamp material such as Speedy Carve.

I learned these rubber stamping tricks from watching Julie Fei-Fan Balzer’s Cloth Paper Scissors WorkshopTM video “Stamp-Making Adventures: Carve, cut, & print one-of-a-kind designs,” now available for download. Julie’s tips and techniques show you how to get the most bang for your rubber-stamping buck. They’re fun, too.

So go ahead, give your stamps a spin!

P.S. What’s your favorite twist on a stamping techniques? Tell me about it in the comments section below.


Blog, Mixed-Media Supplies, Mixed-Media Techniques


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