Wednesday, March 03, 2004

by Brian of TeamGreenDragon

I don't believe I'm doing anything different than anybody else who is carving. I use a #11 X-Acto knife under a lighted magnifying glass.

I think the quality of your initial image transfer can make a big difference in the final outcome of your stamp. I started with the acetone (nail polish) transfer process, but found this to be a bit messy. Sometimes the paper would leave particles stuck to the carving material and also the edges of the image would tend to blur from the edge of my hand rubbing repeatedly along it. Anybody who has seen my Strix Varia stamp should know that the image for that was originally much larger, but after carving out the middle section I had pretty much rendered the outer portions unusable. I ended up cutting these sections away resulting in the image as it is now.

After experimenting with the heat transfer method (iron) I have had much better results with the transferring of images. I have found that a very crisp bold image can be obtained. Like I said this may take some experimentation on your part. I found that low heat over longer period of time worked better for me, although I've spoken with others who found a quick blast of high heat works wonders for them. This may have something to do with the toner being used in the particular copier being used. You want to find an older model that uses heat to bind the toner to the paper. Libraries and drug stores often have these older models. I myself am going to keep my eyes open come yard sale season, I hope to be able to pick one up at a reasonable price to have at home.

After obtaining a good image to start with, it becomes a matter of how much time you are willing to commit to the stamp. Something I know is going into the wild I tend to pick a somewhat simpler, easier to carve image than one I know will be safe, such as an event stamp or a personal traveler ( that's if I had a personal traveler) or, and I'm not sure why this is, but a stamp I was giving to someone else to hide. I tend to carve in short spurts over a long period of time. About an hour and a half to two hours, with breaks as I feel I need them, is all I'm good for before my eyes are shot. Once I realize I'm
having difficulty with my eyes or keeping my hand steady I will put things away for the night (yeah right, Lori wishes this were the case, actually every thing is left all over the kitchen table) and pick up were I left off when I have the time and the inclination to do so.

I've also found that throwing the stamp in the fridge to cool it down a bit will make it harder. This makes smaller areas that need to come out easier to deal with as the knife is more likely to cut thru the material rather than kind of tear thru. The Poe stamp had many such areas and spent a good deal of time sitting next to the margarine in our fridge. You don't want to freeze it, just get it cold.

Also I tend to be a bit obsessive about things and am constantly thinking about the particular stamp on which I am working. I will make copies of the original artwork and keep one pinned to my bulletin board here at work and can't walk through my kitchen without picking the stamp up and looking at it, planning were my next knife cuts will be.

I hope this will help out. Any other specific questions you may have, just email me and I will do my best to answer them. There are also many sources on the web you should read, Silent Doug, Ryan C., and Mitch "Der Mad Stamper", all have excellent tutorials that will give a basic know how of stamp carving.