Autumn 12: DIY Stamps with Miss Stormy

by The Artist on September 19, 2012

So you are looking at your crafting supplies and you notice something is missing.

There are no stamps. The horror!

What can you do when your budget is tight and you *must* have stamps now that you know they are missing from your kit?

You don’t need to break the bank or eat ramen all week to have some great things to stamp with — just get creative.

Start by looking around your house for things with texture.

Knobbly bits and ridges and holes are all good textures.
The kitchen is a great place to start. Sponges can be great stamps and can be cut into many shapes with a decent pair of scissors. (Make sure you are using a new one though as we generally do not want dish soap or food bits on our pictures.  E Coli cards aren’t selling very well at the time of this writing.)

Your box of sewing supplies is another place to look.
The ends of a spool of thread can be used by themselves or as the base to glue objects to. Ric-rack can be used as a stamp as can eyelets and buttons when attached properly to a handle.

If this is not enough and you want to create something entirely new, I’ve got some ideas for you.

If you are a wine drinker you can save the corks to carve into personalized stamps.

But Stormy!, you might be saying, I don’t drink wine!
Never fear:  If you are not a wine drinker then try going to a local bar or higher end eatery and ask politely if they have any saved up. Sometimes they will hand you a bag of them so you can dispose of them, other times they might ask a buck or two for the same bag.  Either way, it won’t break the bank and will give you tons of options for cheap.

You can also go to a dollar type store and find gems to use for cheap.
A pair of flip-flops on sale for a dollar is a wonderful thing. Flip-flops tend to have a textured side and a smooth side. The texture in itself can make a great stamp and with some patience and a sharp x-acto the smooth side can become nearly anything you would want to stamp.

If you are still missing something, just take a trip to a local hardware store…
Wander with an eye towards shape and workability. Washers and nuts can be glued to a base and create wonderful patterns. Gutter guard or a paint strainer can be used for stamping or stenciling.

So now we have stamps, but what about the ink?

Ink can be expensive as all get out and hard to get in a small town. To get around this, I started making my own.

I prefer at this time to use a rubbing alcohol base as you can get an huge bottle for fairly cheap and it lasts a great while. It gives a great base for your pigment.

For pigment (the color in the ink), you can use Kool Aid, Rit dyes (powdered and liquid), and even food coloring — all of which are fairly easily accessible and don’t cost an arm and a leg.

The small sprayer bottles I use were purchased for 50 cents a pop over a period of time and the ink “pads” I make are make-up sponges in small plastic tubs.

To make the spray bottles:

I don’t have a standard recipe for how much of what color to mix but in each case, I only fill the bottles three quarters with alcohol so as to leave air space for mixing. Once I have the alcohol in the bottles, I use a sparing amount of whichever pigment I am mixing, seal the bottles and shake. After that I test the color saturation on a scrap paper and adjust the amount if necessary.

If you are using the unsweetened Kool Aid you may need to strain it once after mixing with the alcohol as some of the additives in drink mix is not alcohol-soluble. I’ve also seen where some homemade ink-makers use acrylic paints mixed sparingly.  I haven’t, however, tried that myself.  Yet…

To make the ink pads:

Place the sponges in the tubs and dampen them thoroughly with alcohol and add color drop by drop as they seem to work best with liquid pigments so far. Once the color is in the pad I pick a stamp to blend and test saturation with.

Stamping doesn’t need to be a budget-breaking activity.

The best thing I can tell you is something you probably already know:  that you can find tools for art everywhere if you can open your mind to the possibilities and play with what you have.
All tools have a purpose but anything can be re-purposed with a little creativity and an openness to trying something new.

Go stamp something!


Miss Stormy lives in the hot, hot southwest USA, where her stamp ink dries very quickly — commercial and home-made.  She blogs at Under the Bridge, where she’s been showing off her Autumn 12 musings and showing off stamps.

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