Friday, February 3, 2012

A Rustic Valentine's

Hand Carved Wood Stamps
During a love affair with peppermint candy inspired crafts, I wished I had a peppermint candy stamp. However, I was penniless and stamping tools can be expensive. When you need milk money, you can't hardly justify 10 bucks for a stamp. But, I really wanted one. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I used some wood scraps I had laying around and carved me a peppermint stamp. It's fairly simple to do. You can pick up a four pack of walnut hallow carving tools at any craft store ( wal-mart too), for a few bucks. I all ready had a set on hand. So for nothing, I carved me a home made stamp.

As you can see,  went a little further. I loved the way my stamp looked. I thought it might make a neat decoration as well. I carved this block, it has an image on all six sides, thinking that I was being sooo clever. Until I used it and my fingers came out covered in ink. Cute, maybe, but not such a good idea for stamping.

Here's a sampling of some of the designs I've carved since. I love the texture the wood gives them. I think it takes on a sort of rustic appeal. The thing to remember is that wood is naturally flawed. You have to be able to embrace the flaws as positive characteristics to this form of art.

 Notice how the light bulbs above differ from the bulb pictured in the string of tags. I like the way both look. I just wanted you to know if you don't like the uneven appearance your finished stamp gives, you can adjust for this by pressing the paper down on your stamp instead of stamp on paper. That's why the bulb on the tag has a more solid appearance. You can try padding your work surface with extra papers or brown paper bags. This is what I did when I made the heart wrapping paper. I was then able to press stamp to paper, which was much faster.

I loved the rustic look of my heart stamp so much I just had to add it to some brown paper and jute twine. The brown paper is, of course, just a grocery bag. The jute is from a ball of twine from the hardware store, it's less expensive than a craft store. You can pick up the small white tags at an office supply store. They are way cheap.

Are you ready for some tips on carving wood stamps?

First off, You can use anything for your wood, From wood scraps left over from other projects to purchased blocks from a craft store. The latter runs at less than a buck. As you can see below, I've done both. I've used scraps of 2x4, I cut 2x2s to make the small wood blocks. I even used some scraps that came from my kitchen table that were used to protect it during shipping. My point is, use whatever you have.

Next, Trace your desired pattern on to your wood scrap, remembering to do it in reverse. Be sure to avoid running lines through knots on the wood, as these are difficult to work. Then take the wood working tool with the straight edge and carefully trace your pattern with it, as pictured. Use the flat rounded end to help transverse rounded areas. Cut deeply, about an 1/8th of an inch.

Once you have completely outlined your pattern, start shaving off pieces starting from an edge and working in. Be very careful. Work in small increments to minimize mistakes. I have, on occasion, slipped and shaved off part of my pattern. When possible, I just glued the piece back in place. Sometimes, one little slip can ruin the whole thing. :(. Wood is just that way. Don't give up. Just start over.
You can use the tool with the small curved tip to sort of dig out small places, like the middle of the "o" and the small parts on the "e".  Once you've whittled away all the wood needed to form your pattern,  the only thing left to do is see how it stamps!

My daughter loved how this block looked so much, I ended up carving her one in opposite for a pretty to hang in her room. I like how it turned out.
I just used spray adhesive to add the ribbon.

I hope to one day have enough knowledge to add some pattern PDF's. Until then, I hope there is enough here to help you create your own 'Rustic Valentine's'. Until next time.


  1. I love your idea for the Irish Lace doily! Beautiful!! I wish I could get the hang of reading basic patterns myself. LOVE your handmade stamps! You should consider setting up and Etsy account ;)

    1. I think I may just do that and see how it goes. Thanks for the vote of confidence!