Eraser Carving Tips
BY RUUD JANSSEN
originally written in 1993
date of WWW-version: 14-9-1997
This is a small text which helps beginners to start with the making of eraser-carved stamps.
-Erasers (all forms are good).-Sharp knife.-Ballpen & paper.-Mirror.-Stamppads.-Plastic Folie (optional)-Markers
HINTS ABOUT THESE MATERIALS:
The erasers should not be too soft. The surface and the other quality of the eraser determine how good the result will be (both with carving as with printing). The sharp knife could be a graphic scalpel (e.g. Martor No. 22111 or No. 22113 or a ProEdge No.5 Knife).
The plastic folie should be thick enough so you can write on it with a marker- pen.
Put the eraser on a white paper and mark the size with a pencil or pen. This is the maximum size of your eraser-carved stamp. Make the drawing in this marked area. Remember that the finer the lines are, the more difficult it will be to carve the areas. Straight lines are easier to cut then curved lines. When you try things for the first time , make large areas , and use mostly straight lines. When the drawing/design is made , the mirror-view of this design has to be put on the eraser. There are some methods: When you have used a ballpen , you can press the eraser firmly on the eraser. The ink will be transferred partly on the eraser , because ballpen-ink doesn't dry quickly. The transferred image is the mirror-image! If necessary, make the design a bit darker with your pen till it is clear enough for you. Another way is to use a plastic folie. Put it on the design (or photo or image) , and make with a (not-waterproof) marker a copy. This copy you can place on the eraser and press it (see also the first method). If you use a design from a magazine , there are also some chemical methods you get the ink of the design on the eraser.
Place the eraser in front of a mirror . This is to see if the design is correct. Remember that ANYTHING YOU CUT AWAY CAN'T BE RESTORED. So that is why it is important to cheque the design before you start carving. The most important thing. Cutting away the parts of the eraser which you don't want to be printed on the paper. Sometimes, to prevent to make mistakes , it is best to mark the areas you want to cut away. Always try to cut away sideways , so the print-surface has more strength. When you are cutting away parts , it is easy to see the in between result by just printing it on paper. It gives also a nice story about how the eraser-stamp was made. Also it is useful to see the whole process in case a (fatal) error is made.
A nice example of an eraser-carved stamp you can see here. It was a work made by Litsa Spathi from Heidelberg , Germany , as a gift for the TAM Rubber Stamp Archive. This stamp shows how creative the subject can be. To make it more clear for you how the actual print looks like I used the computer-trick to "mirror" the image so you can read the text.
Important with the stamping is that the eraser is clean. Use a brush (I always use an old toothbrush) and wipe the eraser clean. Don't forget to clean the stamppad also , because the dirt on this stamppad gets very easily in the holes of the eraser. When you ink the eraser-stamp , press the stamp several times on the stamppad while placing it on different part of the stamppad. This insures that the structure of the textile on the stamppad isn't printed too.
To get a good print , the pressure on the eraser-stamp has to be equal everywhere. A help for this in mounting the eraser on a piece of wood. When you want to make stories with the stamp , try to use different colors. But when you use a new stamp , always test it on a testing-paper. Mistakes are easily made , and are difficult to restore.........
You can use stamppads where several colors are put on. They give some nice effects. But once you use a stamppad for this , it will stay multi-colored! I use special 'not-inked' stamp-pads for this. To make a second stamp of the same image, you can use the carved eraser- stamp to make a (mirror-view) stamp. For special prints it is possible to use special markers to color you eraser-stamp. This gives a very nice color-effect. Once you decide you want to know more, then it might be good to try to get a hold of the newest issues of Rubberstampmadness(online as well!) , National Stampagraphic or the Eraser's Carvers Quarterly. All these magazines give quite special hints and info's on the subject. But doing a lot yourself is the practice you need and it will help you to discover all the possibilities.