How to Make a Stamp - Quick, Easy, and Cheap

2 May 2012

Like most people I know, I have been trying to lessen the clutter in my home and studio. I admit, one of the categories of supplies that has been relegated to the "out" box is my stash of rubber stamps. Not because I don't like them, but because I find that I prefer to use my own art stamps.

stamping techniques
Julie Fei-Fan Balzer made this art stamp with craft foam and a
ballpoint pen.
I used to collect rubber stamps with sayings and detailed images. But I found that once I'd used an image a few times I got tired of it and, in the throes of creating, I found I preferred simpler, more geometric stamps. Plus, making your own stamps keeps your art original and unique, and it is just so much fun.

One of the easiest, fastest, and least expensive ways to create a stamp with your own imprint is to use craft foam and a ballpoint pen.

Here is how Julie Fei-Fan Balzer demonstrates this method of making foam stamps on her new Cloth Paper Scissors WorkshopTM video, "Stamp-Making Adventures: Carve, Cut & Print One-of-a-Kind Designs."

1. Take a piece of craft foam and cut it to the size you want (you can also keep the sheet whole and cut out the portion you want later).

2. Use a ballpoint pen to make marks in the foam, pressing hard enough to make an impression with the pen. You can draw geometric shapes, doodles, a representational drawing, or words, just be aware that the print will come out in reverse. Tip: Allow your design to go off the edge of the piece of foam.

stamping techniques
Some of Julie's easy handmade foam stamps.
3. Ink the stamp by pressing the pad onto the stamp, not the other way around. Julie likes to use Distress InkTM because you can manipulate the ink with water.

4. If desired, spritz the inked stamp with a mist of water.

5. Place your paper (Julie uses manila shipping tags) onto the stamp and press over the back of the paper.

6. Lift the paper and admire your brilliant artistry.

It's just that simple and fun. Julie demonstrates how to make a stamp with a variety of materials and tools and gives you her inside tips on stamping techniques in "Stamp Making Adventures."

Making your own stamps is an easy and creative way to use low-tech, inexpensive resources for unique results. You never have to worry about using the same old rubber stamp again.

P.S. Have you tried this technique? What tips do you have to share? Leave your comment below.

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Stamp-Making Adventures Carve cut & print one-of-a-kind designs DVD

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Discover a myriad of techniques for creating stamps with found objects, foam, and carving.


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lclaudine33 wrote
on 2 May 2012 9:44 AM

Wow! Love this idea!! Especially since I just finished a linoleum cut stencil last night and my hands hurts this morning from the tools!!!Thank you!!

vintage k wrote
on 2 May 2012 10:04 AM

What a fab idea! I've been longing to carve my stamps, but this looks incredibly easy! I'll try this method first. A terrific way to try out new designs before carving them into the more expensive materials. Thanks for sharing! Love Julie Fei-Fan Balzer by the way!

Carlzwench wrote
on 2 May 2012 11:25 AM

So is this craft foam resilient enough to stamp into polymer clay?!  That would be awesome!

Beth L. wrote
on 2 May 2012 1:55 PM

I have been carving my own stamps for years.  Not quite as intricate as the "store bought" ones. But they are mine.  There used to be a group on the internet somewhere  called the Carving consortium that promoted this.  I was involved with it more than 10 years ago.  I wish I had not wasted so much money on the ready made stamps but that is water under the bridge.  No lino cuts.  We used those white erasers.  Almost like cutting butter.  Funny how things old are coming new again

on 2 May 2012 5:32 PM

This is a fun activity for kids, and they can make greeting cards, Christmas cards, gift tags, etc. Styrofoam meat trays will work too.

cathy160 wrote
on 2 May 2012 6:57 PM

I do make my own stamps. I use children's foam building blocks. I heat the end of a foam piece with my heat gun and then press it into the object that I want the image of of. You can reheat it to change images.I have had great luck with shells, buttons, metal ephemera, etc. Makes nice small stamps.

VirginiaVA wrote
on 3 May 2012 1:24 AM

In college, we made linoleum blocks, which were hard on my hands.  Since then, I've used a stylus (or a dry ball point pen) to make my stamps out of restaurant carry out styrofoam boxes.  TIP: With an Xacto knife, cut out all the FLAT areas of box (large and small) and store with supplies until the urge to make a new stamp hits.  I sometimes even used the leftover rounded areas for a "rolled" stamp, so only the little tab gets tossed out.

Free art supplies = green = good recycling practices.  This is styrofoam that does not go into a landfill somewhere.

on 8 May 2012 3:34 PM

We're back with week 2 of Tea for Tuesday — this time with stamping and an invitation for you

on 8 May 2012 6:12 PM

You can also cut the foam and glue the shapes on a block or a piece of cardboard to make a nice printing plate.  Lots of fun!

dujduj wrote
on 13 Aug 2012 8:33 PM

I knew I couldn't be the only person using Craft Foam as stamps. But I do it slightly differently. If I have a very simple shape, I cut it out of thick (6mm) craft foam and incise the details with a pen, but if I want to make a more complex outline, I cut it out of sticky-back craft foam which I stick to a base (Thick craft foam works well enough for a small stamp) and incise, if desired. I put a sticky-back picture-hook on the back to use as a handle. Instant gratification :)

My favourite inking method is with textas. Marvy markers work very well, but any broad or brush-tipped texta - like Faber-Castell Jumbo Connectors - can give a good image if you work quickly and huff a breath of air over the stamp-face just before stamping.

I clean my stamps with baby-wipes.

(I'm just a beginner at mixed-media. My preferred craft is patchwork/quilting, but when I'm asked to present a craft workshop to our parochial group I have to venture out into other areas.)  

leekirk wrote
on 28 Dec 2013 2:53 PM

I also use the foam by cutting out a silhouette shape and mounting (or not) and printing that. Or you can cut a shape into the foam and print the outline, leaving the image blank. Styrofoam food trays (don't use meat trays) are just as easy - draw into them and print. They won't last forever but you want variety anyway, right?

Of course we all know about cutting potatoes, carrots, radishes, etc. Temporary but effective.

Lee Kirk

The Prints & The Paper