It’s always nice to feel creativity running through your blood! It’s been a bit of a dry spell for me recently but I am finally beginning to enjoy making again.
My latest endeavour is one of my favourites so far. I quickly learnt that whilst I was at university I much more enjoyed to process of making something and creating a final product compared to sticking to 2D work or just drawing alone. Although I love working on my 2D pointillism ‘Under the Skin’ ongoing project, it leaves little for me to get messy with making. Since I am also not equipped to continue with my ceramic work, I need to find something else to keep my mind and fingers busy.
– Stamp Carving with Fabritizia Design –
I had the absolute pleasure of being able to attend a stamp carving workshop at the Maltcross in Nottingham. I have always admired her work so for me this was a great opportunity to learn from the master herself!
Anna works primarily with stamps that she carves out of rubber blocks. In this workshop we used Essdee’s Mastercut blocks, they’re extremely easy to carve from and offer much more room for experiment and finer lines than what Lino offers, yet both are great ways of producing ink based prints.
First of all we got to jotting down some designs that we’d like to make in to stamps. I chose to keep my stamps small and simple in order to use them for various different prints. Once we were happy with our designs, we used tracing paper and a soft HB pencil to redraw the designs, to then flip over the image and use the back of a tea spoon to transfer the image on to the rubber block.
Once the images were transferred, we quickly went over the top of the pencil marks with permanent pen in order to keep the line markings we need, as the pencil will eventually rub away. Now it was time to begin carving!
The most important detail about carving your stamps is determining which areas of your design you want to transfer on to paper with ink. Whatever you carve away will show up clear. You can produce both negative and positive prints, but this is down to personal preference so take some time to decide on these details. (Note: use the pen or pencil to shade in the area you wish to carve away in order to make things easier and clearer for yourself). Using your carving tools, best select which blade suits your design the most. ABIG or Essdee carving kits are extremely useful. Look for the numbers on the blades: 1 being the sharped ‘V’ shape, used for fine line and details. to 5 which is mostly used for carving away excess material.
Once you’re happy with your carving, it’s time to print. For printing inks we used Versacraft ink pads, which are great for spreading the ink across your stamps. Lightly press the pads on your stamps and make sure there is an even spread of ink. Using the ink pads also proves to be cheaper when printing small scale with small stamps, and also it’s much cleaner without having to wash up lots of inks! However if you are producing print on a large scale it may be worth investing in larger tubs of ink that you can mix yourself and use a sponge roller and a plastic base to spread.
Once your stamp is covered it is best to test it on newsprint before going straight on to your desired material. In my case this was a good idea, as once I had done the first press it was clean that I needed to carve away more rubber as there were some unwanted marks. Once Carved again, I went back to pressing where I found they came up much better. To press your stamp on to your material it is best to your a Baren. These can be bought online from most places. This ensures an even spread of pressure, however the ball of your palm also works well.
The middle print is my first attempt and the first and last images are the second press on newsprint. Once I was happy with the outcome I decided to make my Mum a card in time for Mothers day, which gave me chance to experiment with colour schemes and pattern placement.
All in all it was a wonderful workshop and I have taken away many tips and tricks that I cannot wait to put into my own work. I have inks, rubber and materials on the way, so I am brimming with excitement and can’t wait to get messy this week!