Okay so yeah, I kinda promised this about…eight or so months ago. Sorry ’bout that. But anyway, here’s my little tute on how to make your own super easy craft foam relief stamps. Now I know I hate it when some craftista says something will be ‘super easy’ and then it takes twelve steps and 35 hours and all kind of weird supplies, so I’m not going there. I promise. These are easy. And all you need to make them is:
Craft foam. I get mine at the Dollar Tree.
Ballpoint pen. Mine today is an old giveaway from a title company.
Scissors. Also from the Dollar Tree, incidentally.
These are the simplest type of stamp to make from the craft foam, in that they are relief, meaning they stamp a block of color with your design in relief (not colored) inside it. They create a primitive look that I really dig. You can also make regular stamps by cutting shapes out of foam, but I’ll leave that for another tute. Other variations are to use different point of ballpoint pens to make finer lines. This one I’m using is a medium…maybe even a bold, I’m not sure. I used a fine point for some of the finer lines on the flower stamp I made and it works fine.
So, step 1:
Choose a simple design and use your pen to draw it on your foam. (I can do a separate tute on how to transfer a design from paper to the foam if there’s enough interest, but for today, we’ll just talk about a simple, off-the-cuff line drawing.) The pen kinda drags on the foam, so you may have to press very lightly and go over your lines a bit to get the ink to lay down. I decided to try a border stamp for this one:
Go over your original lines with the pen again and again, one section at a time, pressing the groove way down into the foam. If you just go over the lines, you’ll start sinking into the foam, and it’s best to let it happen gradually like that at first, so you get a smooth line. With a fine point, you may even poke/cut all the way through, and that’s fine. It will even help you see where your design is from the other side. Here’s my border, pressed down into the foam:
Cut out your stamp. Leave this to last so that you can move the bigger piece of foam around while doing your drawing. Oh, and make sure you don’t press into it with your fingernails while holding it. See the little impressions left above. Oops.
Your stamp is ready! You can mount it on a piece of cardboard or something else, if you want. I made a set of letters and put each one on a square of cardboard. To stamp, I’ve used these with ink, watercolor paint, Inktense Blocks, and acrylic paint, and it’s all fun. I’ll use some Inktense Blocks here. I use mine like pan watercolor. I like them because once they’re painted on, they don’t reactivate again like regular watercolors. Instead, they act like permanent ink. Great for working over with other stuff. Anyway, I just use a brush (in fact, an old makeup brush, to be exact) to paint the color on:
Heavy or light, you’ll have to experiment. I did it pretty pretty heavy on this one:
…and you’ll see I got a less-than-clear impression. With the first press, I just put the foam down and apply very light pressure, holding the stamp down with one finger while smoothing to the other end with the other, without moving the foam:
See how you can see the lines through the foam? It’s great, because you know where your design is, like with clear acrylic stamps. Here’s the impression I got with that loaded up paint:
I would have gotten more detail with less paint. Oh well. For me, stamping is about adding interesting line and shape, and I like it. I’d definitely experiment with different media and lay it on more lightly to try to get a finer design. What you stamp on also matters. This is just sketch paper, with a little roughness to it. Smoother paper works better for finer impressions.
For the second impression, I press the stamp differently, to get some of the paint from inside the lines, which gives me a different impression from the same stamp. I press harder:
And get a different impression:
I like that. I often like the last impression where I squeeze that last bit of paint/ink out of the stamp the best! On the page at the top of the tute, I made one of each kind of impression with two of the other three homemade stamps I use for examples. Like I said above, if there is interest, I’ll try to do a separate tute on transferring a design from paper to foam, like for more detailed designs and words. For now, keep in mind that to do words, you have to write them backwards for them to stamp forward.
Have fun and experiment! I hope I made this clear, since it’s my first time doing a tutorial for anything! I’d love for you to leave a link back to a picture of a stamp made with this tute in the comments.