Saturday, December 15, 2012

When Pigs Fly: stamp tutorial

I'm really getting into carving my own stamps. It's intricate, satisfying, and if you're a klutz and crave more excitement in your crafting life, dangerous (totally sliced my own thumb open--cut away from the body!). I'm laying out the process for making this flying pig, today.

1. I am NOT a photographer
2. I'm way too impatient to wait until daylight to get better lighting
3. The other carvings I made from pink erasers (pack of 5 or 6 @ the Dollar Store)

So, I'm making those popular chalkboard coasters flying all over Pinterest. Super easy, attractive Christmas gifts. All the cousins are gettin' em. I don't think any of them read this blog... so hopefully the surprise is still on.
From the Moody Fashionista: found here.

But, I wanted to add an extra touch. I designed and carved a unique stamp for each family. I'm putting these stamps onto the coasters with opaque white ink. This is my tutorial on creating my When Pigs Fly stamp.

First, supplies:

  1. Exacto Knife--hobby knife? Don't know what the generic name is here
  2. Pencil
  3. Drawing you like--make it, borrow it, whatevs
  4. Paper for tracing--thin notebook paper works. I'm super cheap.
  5. Rubber stamp, or if you make the design small enough, a regular old pink eraser will do. I used Speedball "Speedy-Cut Easy" stamp material. Found at Hobby Lobby in the art supplies section (NOT in the stamps section). Frankly, it's not much of an improvement over erasers, but it's cheap enough, and gives you extra size options.
Step 1:
Create a drawing of what you want. I free-handed this flying pig.

Step 2:
Outline your drawing in something dark (I used a fine tip Sharpie).

Step 3:
Trace your drawing, heavily, in pencil. I use thin notebook paper, and a mechanical pencil (7mm).

Step 4:
Place your tracing face down onto your stamp material, and go over the back evenly with your pencil.

Step 5:
I forgot to take a picture of how perfectly the tracing transferred (oops). So, I created a little heart into a corner I cut away from the pig stamp.

Seriously, that's a tracing on the rubber! I didn't think it'd be so easy.
Step 6:
Carve around your tracing. I insert the hobby knife 1-2 millimeters into the rubber, depending on how much I want to carve away.

I use my left hand to turn the stamp when I'm rounding curves. A continuous cut makes smoother edges. I lift out of the rubber, and reinsert in a different direction only for corners.

Step 7:
Under cut the rubber around your carving. You'll want to under cut by about as many millimeters as you carved down. Sheesh--that's sounds complicated, but it's not.

You'll just barely be able to see the tip of the knife lifting rubber as you undercut. This will help you not undercut your actual carving.

Really hard to capture, but you can see I don't cut very deeply. That's about 1 mm.
Step 8: 
Cut a little eye for this guy. This was a trial and error process. I angle my knife at 45 degrees, shallowly insert the tip where I want the eye, and--leaving the tip in exactly the same place--slowly turn the stamp a full circle.

I also like to carve away excess rubber (the stamp used to be a square), to keep edges from tracking into my ink and leaving extra marks.

Step 9:
Break out your favorite ink pad, and stamp away.

I'll post pictures of how it turns out when I stamp this guy in opaque white ink onto my chalkboard coasters.

I'll be linking at these lovely sites:


  1. Thanks for the tutorial! Love this stamp!

  2. Thanks, Kady! Took at peak at your blog. Love the collections: Fab Finds, Stocking Stuffer. You bring together a handful of beautiful ideas and products.