Debunking Stamp making myths

Stamp carving is an easy craft to get into although it does have some bad press so this post is all about debunking those stamp-making myths.

1. I have a friend of a friend of a friend who took up art in school and that friend got cuts and lots of nasty nicks from carving

If you're reading this, the chances are you're looking into stamp carving for fun. Lucky you there are easy to carve blocks and methods to avoid cutting yourself (that you can learn on a one-on-one session with me.) And that "friend in art school" is required to use tough carving material such as linoleum sheets because its part of their training. Linoleum is the same material stamp makers in Recto as well as professional print makers use.

2. My hands are not steady

You're not doing an open heart surgery so, relax. If you need to carve straight lines use a metal ruler as your guide to keep your lines straight. Alternatively putting your weight on your pinky finger as you carve (a tip I picked up from calligraphy) helps when carving shallow into your block so you can go over jagged lines instead of craving deep into your rubber which is hard to fix.

3. My hands get callous from too much carving

Lots of hard work goes into stamp making including getting callous hands. To combat this you can interchange using a carving knife with a lino cutter that lets you grip your carving tool. Experiment which tool works best for you. When I am carving small details I use a D-type NT Cutter with a 30° angled blade.

4. I have poor eye sight

Squinting to find those really small parts is part of the challenge if you're hellbent on getting fine details. I don't know if its a side effect of working on detailed stamps but from my experience my eyesight has improved ever so slightly but that could just be me. I have yet to hear of stamp carving curing poor eye-sight but hey, if it works for you let me know!

5. Materials are expensive

Stamp making starter kits in the market can definitely come at an overwhelming price. It can be discouraging if you're planning to take up stamp making as a hobby. There are always cheaper alternatives. In my experience when shopping for carving tools in Manila you can get the most bang for your buck when you buy per-item instead of a branded kit. But if you're in it for the long run consider the Speedball Speedy Carve Stamp Making Kit.

6. I can't draw for sh*t!

No pressure, any doodle can be turned into a stamp. This is a great opportunity that lets you create a stamp style of your own. You don't need the skills of an experienced draftsman to make a stamp, it does help but you can do without it. You can simply use a stencil or trace over an image and turn it into a stamp.

A photo posted by mizutama (@mizutamahanco) on
Mizutama who is one of Japan's most published eraser stamp makers bases her stamps on her ball point pen illustrations. They look like doodles right off an elementary student's notebook.

7. Uh, but I am left handed

And so are most creative people! This shouldn't be a problem as I am a lefty myself. Don't worry right handed folks I've taught right handed people how to carve.

Believe it or not, I have all of these challenges as a stamp maker. I also have days when I have to take a break from carving because my hands tremble uncontrollably (side effect of medicine.) You'd be amazed by the things you can do if you set your mind to it.


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Name: Marz Ren | AKA: 認馬摯
​Marz is a handmade stamp artist turning things and people into stamps since 2013

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