my 'go-to' how to series: making inexpensive handmade stamps

I love nothing more than complete and detailed instructions for something that actually works! I have brought together bits of tutorials found online a well as bits I've discovered during my own process to give you one method of making inexpensive homemade stamps. I love these materials because they are easily found and cheap which means if you mess up or don't like the result you don't feel bad tossing it and starting again. You are allowed to experiment and get creative without negative consequence!

Foam Stamps

You will need: 

adhesive foam sheets

glue stick

cardboard

scissors

x-acto knife

mark making tools

ink pads

some of the tools of the trade! get creative and use what you like

some of the tools of the trade! get creative and use what you like

adhesive foam sheets, sold in a colourful package for less than $10

adhesive foam sheets, sold in a colourful package for less than $10

1. cut out your foam design

The foam sheets are brilliant because you can get a large package for less than 10$ and they go a long way. I have a giant ziplock full of stamps and have barely made a dent.

The best designs are simple. Use scissors for the main sections and if you need details or small bits I have used things like the x-acto knife, bamboo skewer, the tip of a mechanical pencil -whatever you think would make the mark you are looking for. You want to make a deep enough mark to show once you ink your stamp. 

examples of some simple designs that have served me well

examples of some simple designs that have served me well

2. stick your foam design onto cardboard

It's best to use a smooth hard piece as the base of the stamp. This will help with the neatness of your stamped surface. I started out making my cardboard holders with thick squishy cardboard - not only is this harder to cut through but with thicker cardboard its harder to keep the edges from showing up on your stamped page. Sometimes I like the rough look it gives but if you prefer a neater stamp, go with harder cardboard such as the compact shoebox type as it offers a smooth and hard foundation. This makes the stamp look crisper and tidier. I also don't mind getting my hands dirty so less of a holder isn't a big deal for me  - glue together as many layers as you like so you have something to grip. 

3. ink your stamp

A quick note on inks: there are tons of different kinds for basically ANY purpose you have in mind. At first I based my ink purchases completely on price - you can get individual pigment inks and packages of tiny dye inks for very cheap. My very tiny ink guide:

Pigment ink - very slow drying, thicker, more opaque, comes in metallic colours. I use this for stamping fabric or in conjunction with painting.

Dye ink - dries almost instantly, brighter more vibrant colours, good to use with markers and such. I use this for making my tags and business cards.

There is so much to say about inks I can't even begin - here is a helpful resource chart by Lindsay Weirich. I know it has saved me from going crazy figuring out what I need for a project!

Tips: try picking up the ink and dabbing it on your stamp as opposed to putting the stamp on your ink. This way you see which parts of your stamp are getting the ink and you control how thickly. I like to mix colours together on one stamp by starting with the lightest colour so inking this way also gives you that opportunity.

 

4. stamp your surface

Press firmly and evenly over the surface of your stamp. If it's a bigger stamp - hold it in place while you press or rub the whole surface. It's very annoying to find you've missed the middle of the design because you've only pressed the edges, and very hard to stamp the exact same spot in order to correct the mistake! 

 some finished products: you can see the left hand sun stamp wasn't pressed evenly while the triangle eye and lightening bolt show signs of the cardboard pressing on the paper

 some finished products: you can see the left hand sun stamp wasn't pressed evenly while the triangle eye and lightening bolt show signs of the cardboard pressing on the paper

And voila - Stamping fun! I use these types of stamps for embellishing my tags and business cards as well as in my newest project - homemade stickers. I will show you how I make those in my next blog post!

Thanks for reading :)

website creation

For this first post I'm going to touch on a few of the key things I learned from making a website. As many of you know - this is my first real attempt at completing a website and I'm happy to say it's up and running with no massive errors or detrimental font choices! So far so good. I'm not claiming to suddenly be an expert website maker and I'll admit I had some hired help (thanks Jennifer at Natural Icon Designs!) but I did get some good advice and discover a few things for myself along the way so here goes. I'm going to approach this a bit differently and give some tips on what you do NOT want to do.

#1 - Do NOT: Wing it too much with the photos.

Orange Shawl in various forms. May not be the best lifestyle and product shots but you can see the variations taken for different purposes. (thank you to Aaron, my lovely model!)

Orange Shawl in various forms. May not be the best lifestyle and product shots but you can see the variations taken for different purposes. (thank you to Aaron, my lovely model!)

I did research and gathered opinions on product shots photography. I had images in my head of what I was after. I live with an amateur photographer happy to offer suggestions and equipment loans. I should have had it all together! I'm STILL guilty of not writing down a list of what exactly I wanted. I admit it - I tried to WING IT! For weeks! More than one time I got all set up for a photo shoot, afterward realizing I missed certain items or shots. In my case I need proper photos for my website product libraries, fun shots for social media like Instagram as well as proper product shots for my Etsy Shop and I wasn't taking the time to differentiate between the shots required for each site. Consequently I wasted time and gave myself some new grey hairs. It can be overwhelming but I'm hoping once I get the rhythm it won't be such a challenge!

#2 - Do NOT get too hung up on the little details.

Font nightmares...

Font nightmares...

This was advice I was given by Jennifer during our website set up meeting but it was also advice I needed to keep giving myself because I know I can get much too immersed in the creative process of things. I was off to a good start: One of the quickest decisions I made was the font colours - what are my favourite colours? Do they work in the context? Yes? BOOM! Done. It was liberating. I thought the font type was a quick choice too but then I ran into trouble...we noticed the prices on the items were hard to read. I had this idea in my head that all the website font HAD TO be the same but I wanted a somewhat interesting font for the title header. This supposed 'issue' resulted in; an hour spent reviewing all the fonts, choosing 8 variations, taking screen shots of each one on the title header and comparing them side by side. I showed this to my partner and you know which one we chose? The first one I started with! So how did I solve the problem of having more than one font on the site? I didn't - I changed the font for the main body of the site and left it the same for the header! And you know who called me out on it? Nobody. Totally a made up problem I created!

#3 - Do NOT take too much advice (to heart).

I know - I said I got some good advice on this site creation and photography. And it's true - so I am definitely not telling you to listen to NO advice whatsoever! (double negatives keep you on your toes) Just keep in mind there are as many opinions as there are people in the world and it can become too much very quickly. Not to discount the sage advice of someone who has been in your position or has similar product line or has used your web platform before. Just remember please - it is YOUR website. And if you want to have two different fonts or a crazy colour scheme - go for it! I did a lot of thinking about what I wanted when I visit other sites and this helped me create a site I would want to visit. Another thing I keep having to remind myself is - I can always change it. It is my creation to change. And that is pretty cool.