Remember in Art class in high school the unit you did on prints? The teacher stood at the front of the class and talked a little about print making; she made sure to mention woodblock prints and silk screening, the fact that woodcuts are reversals of the image you want and that you need to cut out the negative space… She might have mentioned something about good design. At the end of the lecture though the teacher handed out something she called linoleum but was really E-Z-Cut and some sharp objects with which you could carve it up. You then did so and at the end of class you rolled some ink on the block of E-Z-Cut and made some prints. It was a lot of fun and educational. What?! You didn’t take Art in school? Too bad. You could have learned a lot in an art class. Welp, now you know just some of what you were missing! (we also did a nude study and played with oil paints!)
I was thinking about art class last weekend and about those old print lessons. My town has a decent art supply store and on a whim I decided to make myself a stamp. At first I thought I’d do something fancy like a hanko seal but then I realized I didn’t have the delicate carving tools necessary for one nor did I really want to spend the additional $ to get them. I can always make one later, as the E-Z Cut blocks are quite large. I decided a simple stamp would be best to start with, especially so because I only had an x-acto knife to work with. The first step was to get some ideas on paper. I decided to do a 1-inch square stamp and because I couldn’t think of anything to do I just did an ‘f’ and an ‘l’ (for FalseLogic). After I sketched out a couple of variants I picked one and went over it with black marker. You really have to lay the ink on thick if you’re going to get it to transfer. Once you’re stamp design is drawn and inked press it on to the block and rub it in, without moving the paper around.
Now comes the hard part! Well, the hard part if you only have a razor blade, box cutter, or x-acto knife. If you have some actual lino-cut tools you’ll be in much better shape. I didn’t and I ended up cutting out part of my border and had quite the time removing the cut portions of the block. The actual tools are U-shaped and remove the block as you cut it. I had to get creative… Anyway. You want to cut out all the parts of the block that you don’t want to hold ink. For my stamp it was the white area. I carefully began cutting out the block, being especially careful between the border and the top of the ‘F’ and between the two letters. This step is by far the most time consuming; You want to go slow and not making any mistakes though. One bad cut and you’ll have to start all over.
After I cut out all the white I went back in and tried to clean up all the lines and increase the depth of the cut. I wanted to make sure that the only thing that would transfer ink would be the black marked parts of the stamp. It didn’t take long and I only cut off one tiny part of the stamp (easily fixed.) Once that was all done I cleaned up the stamp removing any excess black ink and all the little bits and pieces of E-Z-Cut block. Then came the moment of truth. I didn’t have any of the fancy print inks (their quite thick and you’re supposed to roll them onto the stamp block.) I did have an ink pad though and it worked fine, the stamp came out a little more textured than I thought it would; I suspect that is because the stamp block doesn’t absorb any of the ink as a normal stamp would. I think it turned out good, you’ve seen the end result at the top of this post.
I’m hopeful about my next attempt. I might even attempt a more complicated design or one that at minimum more people would recognize.