9 April 2011

Branching Out

This month’s theme in The Sketchbook Challenge is ‘Branching Out’ – expanding your skills, sprouting new ideas, discovering unknown territory. One pretty unknown territory for me is stamping. I seldom use stamps on fabric, I’m not a scrapbooker, and since I’m still struggling with regular journaling, I haven’t got a habit of using stamps in my journals either.

However, I can see why stamps would be a good addition to my repertoire, so when Melanie Testa recently published a fun little tutorial on incised foam stamps, I decided to branch out.

I know a lot of people love to use stamps, but I’ve discovered that for some reason my relationship to stamps is complicated. I love to look at stamps in the shop, but if I feel like buying one, I often stop myself with the questions: When am I going to use it, and how many times? Is it really worth buying it? Shouldn’t I make my own personal stamp instead of using a commercial and impersonal one?

Then, when I’m faced with the task of making my own stamps, I get confused by the endless possibilities. Which motif should I go for? Which one will I want to use over and over again? Which one is worth the effort? I find it difficult to make a stamp unless a have a clear idea in my head of what I’m going to use it for.

I guess I just need to make more stamps, and play with them. The more stamps I make, the less pressure is attached to each single stamp. The more I play, the more I will come up with ideas on how to use them. It’s as easy as that. And Melanie’s tutorial really makes it easy. The materials are simple and accessible, and if I mess it up, I can quickly make a new stamp, or alter the one I’m unhappy with. This is where I’ll start. And if I get hooked, I can branch out even more and finally use that linoleum block and block of speedy-carve that have been sitting in my cupboard for far too long.

If you think that you don’t have the right equipment for the method Melanie describes, use something else. I didn’t have sticky back fun foam, so I used normal fun foam with double-sided tape. You could also use glue. I didn’t have an awl, so I used a thick sharp needle. And a blunt needle for the indentations. Use the things you have around the house.

Dig where you stand
I love Celtic knotwork, so that was a good place to start.

How about a motif without a background?

And how about a background without a motif?

Then, how about rejoining the motif and the background?


  1. Annika, your stamps are wonderful! I am so glad to see that Melanie passed her "stamp pox" onto another. They really are fun to make once you get started and I have found that I use them more than I thought I would. Keep having fun!

  2. Thanks Jeannie! Yes, I'm hoping that I'll reach the same conclusion as you: that I'll use them more than I thought I would. And the fact is that just by making a few stamps, more ideas are already percolating. So it looks good. I think my way of thinking has been too much formed by the scrapbooking industry and the kind of stamps I see in craft shops. And they don't work for me. I need to break out of that and focus on the kind of stamps that I personally need. And that would probably be more in the line of backgrounds and stamps that can be combined and that build up various patterns and textures.

  3. This is wonderful, Annika. I, too, dislike ready made stamps, and favor having some personal symbols. I love the way you took a simple idea and worked it around in many ways. That looks like a smart way to find something unique and interesting.