Carving your own stamps from household erasers is much easier than you might think. It’s a slightly more sophisticated take on the classic classroom art of potato-stamping. But unlike potatoes (which are a lot trickier to cut smoothly in half than most children’s craft books will admit) erasers offer a completely flat surface which is perfect for creating stamped impressions. You can use them to carve all sorts of designs, from simple solid shapes to more detailed pictures, words and line-drawings. The fact that erasers – without wanting to cast even more aspersions on les spuds - won’t shrivel up and start to rot after a day or two means your stamps will last much longer, too.
Tools of the trade
:: Large, flat plain erasers
:: A fine marker pen or sharp pencil
:: A craft knife
:: Inkpads or acrylic paint
:: A surface to stamp on (e.g. paper, card or fabric)
Step by step
1. Decide on a simple design and draw it on the surface of your eraser with a pencil or fine marker pen. (If you’re not confident drawing freehand or just want some extra inspiration, try printing out clip-art shapes or images from a picture font.)
5. hen you’ve finished, your design should be raised above the remaining part of the eraser. Don’t worry if the cut-away pieces around the edges look messy – as long as your design has a good, smooth outline, it will stamp perfectly.
Shaped erasers are a quick and super-easy alternative to carving your own. There are all sorts of cute designs available, and you can stamp with them just as you would with a hand-carved version.
Once you get a little more confident at carving your own designs, you might want to try adding more detail. To do this, you’ll ideally need to invest in a lino-cutting tool. I found mine at a local art shop for just a few pounds, but a quick Google search gives you plenty of online options, too.
Using the finest tip on the tool, it’s quite simple to trace over the outline of a drawing to create something like this:
NB. Don’t forget words will appear as a mirror image when you stamp. To avoid a carving disaster, write them onto plain paper first, flip it over and then trace onto the surface of your eraser.
You can also use the lino-cutter to carve away the inner parts of a design (i.e. areas you wouldn’t be able to trim with a craft knife), again creating a slightly more complicated image.
Obviously, craft knives are very sharp, and the same is true of lino-cutting tools. If you’re not happy for your children to use them, it doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy an activity like this – you’ll just need to work on it together. They can draw out the shapes and designs, you can take care of the tricky cutting and carving part, and they can take over again when it comes to creating inky impressions with the finished stamps.