A few years ago, I received a big tacky frame…
My friend Gale has her Master’s degree in silk screening and print making. Say what? Yes you read correctly, a Master’s degree. That is why I think she is the perfect person to teach me (and you) how to make your very own stamps so you can make your Valentine a Valentine!
It was a chilly afternoon when Gale showed up at my door with her milk crate filled of colored inks, carving tools, cork board, and paper. She spread out her supplies on my kitchen table, and we got to work right away. I asked her a few questions as we worked; the first one I inquired about she got her interest in print making.
“I went to college [at St. Rose] with the intent to train my skills as a drawer and a painter” Gale began, “I had no idea what a print was or how to make one. In my sophomore year I took the intro to silkscreen class… After I pulled the first color on a multicolor silk screen I was enchanted and changed my concentration from painting to printmaking.”
There are a few different supplies you will need to make your own Valentines. You can use a potato for a single occasion or cork for a reusable stamp. You will also need a cutting implement-like an exact-o blade, (what you see above in the red box are wood carving tools you can find at Home Depot) pencils, card stock, ink and a brush. You can make prints from wood or linoleum as well. We just used potato and cork.
We started with the easy type of print making using a potato. First cut the potato in half.
And here is the finished potato print! “The beauty of printmaking is the ability to make multiples, whenever I make something I can share it with others and keep a print or two for myself” says Gale. “What helps me when starting a print is make a small practice piece. There is less pressure to be perfect when making a “practice piece” and you get the feel for the tools, how your image will look and how the final outcome will look. The practice piece will allow you see the process from start to finish and allows you to problem solve along the way. It is important to keep in mind you are making something because you want to- anyone can go buy a perfect card; but it takes time, creatively and thoughtfulness to make something with your own hands and ideas you create.”
“And now comes the really fun part” laughs Gale as she pulls out the ink. She actually uses a fancy roller on plexiglass to get an even coat of ink on her stamp, but since the average person (like me) doesn’t have those materials she recommends the next best thing is to dab on a small even amount of ink or paint with a brush.
And here is our first print! We heart it.
Now for making a stamp out of cork. I am attempting to make a ladybug, Gale will be making a bunny.
First you need to draw your image on the piece of cork. Take an exact-o blade or small sharp blade and carefully trace around the line of the object you are making a print of.
Next you take the v-gouge tool to carve an outline around the object you are making. Gale recommends you carve just slightly next to the line, and the v-gouge will end up carving right on the line.
The last step in making the prints we made was using a small c-gouge tool to carve away the rest of the excess cork, or negative space.
Here is Gale’s completed bunny stamp!
Obviously the prints wont come out perfect at first. In Gale’s experience, the cork absorbs more ink as you use it more. “The ink that we are using is water based silkscreen ink, basically acrylic paint and wallpaper paste. The acrylic paint has the pigment and the wall paper paste is used to make the ink more viscous to go through the small mesh openings of a silkscreen. If you are trying this form for the first time you can buy silk screen inks pre-made from a craft store or you can give it a try with just acrylic paint” recommends Gale. Also, when you make your own prints, be conservative with the amount of ink you apply otherwise your stamp will slip when you apply pressure to the paper. Here are some cards we made:
The ladybug turned out alright!
Whether you are in a relationship or not, I think Valentine’s Day is a great holiday. Remember back in elementary school when everyone would bring in Valentines and candy for every person in the class? It was so fun! So in honor of Valentines Day, I would love to send you a handmade Valentine card! All you need to do is leave a comment below. I will email you for your address and send you a card! You have until February 14th.
So… will you be my Valentine?