A dummy’s guide to carving rubber stamps and fabric printing

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If you haven’t read the last post, “A dummy’s guide to using a speedball linoleum cutter”, do read it as it forms the basis for this post on how to carve rubber stamps.

After completing the “house” series of tea towels, I must say that I absolutely can’t stop carving more rubber stamps! The process is really addictive and therapeutic and I now have way more rubber stamps than blank tea towels to stamp on. Carving rubber stamps requires just a gentle learning curve so here’s a quick tutorial on how I’ve done my rubber stamps so that you don’t commit the mistakes I made while figuring it out on my own :)

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Draw your design on paper. To start, you’ll want to draw a relatively simple design like the above. Here are some suggestions to help you start to brainstorm. I’ve also found it nice to make a few related stamps (3-4) which you can stamp alternately.

– Shapes: chevron, herringbone, triangles, rectangles, geometric shapes, abstract shapes, stripes, polka dots, leaves, feathers
– Themes: houses, kitchen utensils, teapots, animals

If you’re not confident of drawing (like me :P), it helps to search on sites like pinterest, google images or stock photo sites like getty images and add the word “illustration” behind what you’re searching for and it’ll generate cartoon-like pictures (example: “kitchen utensils illustration” on google images) that are much easier to gain inspiration from.

After drawing a test design on a piece of paper, replicate it on your rubber carving block using a pencil.

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Once you’re happy with your design, outline your pencil marks with a ballpoint or gel pen. Don’t use an ink pen as it’ll smudge easily.

Next, imagine how you would want your stamp to look like. Specifically, think about which parts of your stamp you would like to print ink and which you want to be blank (i.e. negative space). Color in the parts of your stamp that you’ll want to print ink. Compare the picture of my colored-in stamp to the final product in the first picture and you’ll see that the colored-in stamp is essentially how your printed stamp will look like. This is important so that you don’t carve off the parts you want to leave on. After you’re done, use an x-acto knife or pen knife to cut out your design from the carving block, keeping in mind to leave ample space on all sides of your design.

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Using your speedball linoleum cutter, start carving the details of the rubber stamp. If you’re not sure how to use your speedball linoleum cutter, read this guide! I would usually start by using tip 2 to outline the portions I want to cut out so that the shape has a nice edge (I’ll come back to this again) but for this design I’ve drawn, I just had to do a straight carve on each of the small rectangles.

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After carving the details in your design, start carving the remaining portions of the rubber stamp. If you look at the picture closely, you’ll notice that I’ve cut out the outline of the design. I find it best to do this using tip 2 as it creates a nice edge for your stamp. After which, you can start to remove the rest of the rubber stamp. To do this efficiently, I use tip 5 and if you look at the picture closely, I’ve held it at an angle to cover a wider area.

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You’ll want to take special care to cave out the 4 edges of the rubber stamp. I find that those areas tend to get on the fabric paint. The above picture is my completed rubber stamp! The areas which have been carved off is not neat and it doesn’t need to be. You just need to ensure that it is carved deep enough so that the only thing you’re printing is your design and not other parts of your rubber stamp. A good way to test it is to face the stamp down on a table and look to see if there’s anything else still touching the table.

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Next you’ll want to test out the stamp. There are quite a few brands of fabric paint out there and I’ve tried 2 brands so far – Speedball’s oil-based fabric paint which I used for this post and Dylon’s fabric paint for the “house” series and while they’re both fabric paints, the consistency is really different.

Speedball’s oil-based paint is thick, and because of its consistency, it is a necessity to use a rubber brayer to smoothen out the paint and to apply the paint on the stamp by rolling the rubber brayer over the stamp. The paint is pretty sticky and will stick to the rubber stamp well, giving you a nice clean print. On the other hand, it can get messy if it gets all over your hands. Dylon’s fabric paint, on the other hand, is much more watery and if you didn’t own a rubber brayer, you could use a paint brush to smoothen out the paint and dab your stamp directly onto the fabric paint. The paint is easier to handle but does not stick to the rubber stamp as well and you’ll have to constantly check to ensure that you have an adequate about of fabric paint on your stamp. But, no matter what you choose, testing is the most important and with adequate testing, your prints will come out equally nice :)

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Using a scrap piece of cloth, on top of scrap paper, but using the same material as that of the cloth you want to print on, attempt printing! Don’t worry too much about having to succeed the first time. Depending on the consistency of your fabric paint, you might have to adjust the way you apply the fabric paint onto your stamp but trust me, it’s not that difficult! 

After applying the fabric paint onto the stamp, look at the stamp closely to see if there’s fabric paint everywhere before printing. To print, carefully lay your stamp onto the cloth and press firmly. Leave on for a couple of seconds and lift up carefully. Apply fabric paint before every print. I like printing my designs in a somewhat orderly fashion but you can print randomly if you like. If you’re particular about wanting the designs to be perfectly placed, tear off a long piece of tape and use that as an alignment guide. When you’re done, leave to dry and iron on over your design to set the colour.

Looking at the picture above, I would consider the print on the left to be a good and neat print while the one on the right has definitely too little fabric paint and if you look at the stamp, you’ll notice some blue fabric paint on the right side of the stamp. This means that those areas are not deep enough. You can either use your linoleum cutter to shave those off, or clean it off after every print. 

Wash off your rubber stamps and rubber brayer with soap and water. The rubber stamps may be a little sticky when dry so wrap between cling wrap or foil to keep.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this tutorial and if you’ve tried fabric printing yourself, I would love to see your designs! :) 

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I can finally say I’ve done string art.

Technology has not been my friend.

I’ve been trying to create a blog post for a while now but since my photoshop trial has expired due to my utter procrastination for not submitting the relevant information to obtain the license number all of a sudden, I have not been able to edit any of the photos I’ve been wanting to post until Adobe decides to reply me. Anyways, I imported the rest of the photos into my camera to see if there were any photos decent enough to be posted as is but since my macbook was severely running out of battery, I had to run upstairs to plug it in and had no chance to check if the photos imported successfully. I then fell asleep, which like Jon would say, “I had the right to because its a public holiday!!!” and finally woke up as my mom came into the room saying “oi! 7pm already!” and here I am at my macbook again to check out the photos but… alas! Why are the photos not in the Events tab?? I frantically tried to look for the photos, praying that the photos were not all lost. Long story short, I finally found them.

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String art has been all over pinterest and I’ve always wanted to try making one myself. I must say that it is definitely easier than it looks and all it took was patience and a little of faith that it would turn out all okay. The perfect opportunity arose as I was trying to think of a good wedding present for Sheryl and Ian. I was keen to do something that they could use at their wedding and at home and thought that a string art design would be a good wedding present.

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粿 | Kueh by Lee Xin Li

These illustrations were circulated on the internet quite a while ago. I’m a little late but I do think that these are rather timeless! I had intended to post this on here for a while now – for purely selfish reasons actually. Wanted to find a good medium to store (and remember) these pictures because, it would be such a great picture to hang in my future kitchen! Not sure about you but, I’m constantly thinking of what I’ll hang in my future kitchen…menus? (I’ve kept quite a few personalized ones) cool food-related sayings? (I’ve a sign which says “seven days without chocolate makes one weak :P) or such illustrations?

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These illustrations bring so much fond memories, mostly from my childhood -watching the  you zha kueh store uncle deep fry you zha kueh batter and watch it balloon, fighting for the peanut kueh tutu with my siblings (and not the coconut one), eating kueh lapis layer by layer, eating soon kueh smothered with sweet sauce in a lunchbox in school, convincing the chwee kueh aunty to give you more chye poh, feeling the burst of gula melaka in ondeh ondeh and kueh dadar when you bite into it, eating only the rice part of the kueh salat (i do love my carbs)…

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dishwasher cooking

I did a post on mason jars yesterday. As I was cruising through Facebook today, I notice that someone had posted an article with a picture something to do with mason jars – of course I had to click on it!

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Source: NPR – Dishwasher Cooking: Make Your Dinner While Cleaning The Plates

I read to the end in an instant – dishwasher cooking?! How innovative! I don’t have a dishwasher at home (its uncommon for Singapore homes to have a dishwasher) but did when I was in the US and can imagine how this works. It is kinda like a sous vide and I’m so excited just thinking how this would be such a great idea for a 1-2 person home when sometimes its hard to fill up the dishwasher.

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I’ve been completely for the whole mason jar craze going around DIYers, pinterest and blogs. I can’t help but swoon over almost every mason jar DIY I see. Unfortunately, it seems a little hard to get mason jars here in Singapore but I can’t wait to get my hands on some when I go over,  hopefully soon!

I like that mason jars are made of glass because…i love glass. Since I bake a lot, glass is always my go to form of storage as they don’t cling on to color or smell and last forever.

I’ve been pinterest-ing every chance I get these days to get more inspiration and here’s some mason jar DIYs and ideas I’m loving so far!

Pincushion and sewing equipment storage – unfortunately the pin I found doesn’t link to the original site

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Leash and treat holder by VintageFlairFurnish – how nice if I could have one of the dogs and one for the cat!

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handmade letterpress maps

I’ve been so incredibly busy at work! As promised in my last post, I was supposed to share the sichuan hotpot recipe Jon used but I’m so sorry that I have not gotten round to it – I shall and I will – very soon!

But before I share that, I absolutely could not take my eyes off these handmade letterpress maps from Quail Lane Express. They are so beautifullllll.

*all photos are from Quail Lane Express

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Maggie Austin Cake

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“Stunned” would be an understatement to describe the intense feelings I felt as I scrolled through Maggie Austin’s cake designs. It was a whirlwind of feelings of wonderment and disbelief – how could such gentle, elegant and sophisticated cakes exist?! Maggie Austin’s cakes are anything but ordinary. She  popularized the ombre frill cake which I love so so so so so very much. I follow her on Facebook where she frequently posts new cakes and designs she has been working on and every time I see a new picture of her’s on my newsfeed, I never fail to have to catch a breath, as I admire her every detail, down to the grain on each petal. You know what?  I should just stop talking and let you quietly take in and admire her designs because no words will do any justice to all this amazing-ness.

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beautiful stationary – kikki.k

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Three years ago, my cousins gave me a kikki.K notebook and ever since, I’ve fallen in love with all their beautiful stationary! Every year, I make it a point to get a kikki.K notebook because they are just so adorable! (except this year since my sister gave me a Muji one for last year’s christmas) Their designs are very different every year and I love how they have a sticker book behind, which I use for all sorts of packaging projects.

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summer nautical theme – summer is coming!

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Vista ChairJuniper Umbrella ; Nautical Glasses ; Galvanized Double BucketLove in the Beach PillowDay at the Beach Box Sign

One of the things I really miss about living in the US is the seasons! My friends and I always joke around about Singapore’s seasons being: rain, hot, very hot, extremely hot! I’m not quite sure which is my favorite season since there’s something I really love in each – snow in winter, falling leaves in autumn, beautiful flowers like cherry blossoms in spring and the sun in summer. However, one of the things I always look forward to in summer are the extended periods of sunlight! I love the fact that the sun sets so late in the evening – makes me feel like I can accomplish so much more :)

Being so out of touch with the seasons in the US, I googled and found out that summer officially starts on 21 June which is YAYYYYY for me because Jon and I are making a trip to Seattle on 23rd June! *countdown mode*

I really like summer-themed stuff because it is so energetic and happy! Paper Source’s new nautical theme goes so well with the whole outdoor feel and…I really really love the cute cups!!!

Also, I am so so so so excited to say that my first printable is almost ready!