And this is how I lured them in…
Rubber stamp carving: not a forgiving project, but if nobody ends up bleeding, I call it a win. The Speedy-Cut rubber blocks were gouged, scraped, picked at, sliced and trimmed with both scissors and knives. Those kids meant business. And as I explained to one of the most frustrated ones, it’s okay if this doesn’t end up being his favorite kind of art. The rubber won’t mind, and neither will I.
I gave a brief safety talk, a bit about positive and negative space (with my samples above showing two different styles of carving), showed them a couple of pictures from Making an Impression: Designing & Creating Artful Stamps by the amazing Gennine Zlatkis, and encouraged them to draw in pencil first, before picking up the Speedball carving tools. There was some sketching on paper and then transferring to rubber, consulting photos online, inspiration from Geninne’s book, and even some moms got a chance to carve. Definitely a win. 🙂
Check out Carving Eraser Stamps: Small but Mighty next.
It’s dangerous, fun, challenging, and makes a bit of a mess. Perfect.
Stamp carving wisdom: Always carve away from your fingers, and have extra rubber ready to soothe the frustrated artists.
This is not one of the easier projects, and when my kids were little they basically gouged out marks, trying for a straight line, and that was that. They were proud then, and that was enough. Now, they have higher aspirations, and carving rubber is pretty unforgiving.
But some kids forgive the rubber, and use every last scrap for a doodle and design:
The great thing about eraser stamps is that you can buy a bunch for cheap, especially during back-to-school sales. The difficult thing is that they are so small it’s hard to hold and you run out of edge pretty quickly. We use Speedball Linoleum Cutters, changing the carving attachments as needed for varying thicknesses.
When it works out, it’s incredibly satisfying…
This artist used Strathmore 300 Tracing Pad paper to capture characters from Star Wars: Jedi Academy, then transferred them to the rubber. This also works for your own design if you don’t want to draw directly on the rubber, because it’s hard (impossible?) to erase graphite off a rubber eraser. It doesn’t make sense, but it’s true.
We consulted the inspiring book Making an Impression: Designing & Creating Artful Stamps by the talented Gennine Zlatkis. The best thing is that once you have a stamp, you can use it again and again! I made a hollow heart so I could watercolor, colored pencil, or pastel the inside for some Mail Art love.
Check out Carving Rubber Stamps: The Kids Mean Business next!