{X} X-acto knife: carving stamps and cutting stencils

Stamps and stencils, as you may have noticed, can be an invaluable tool in your art journal kit. When I started out, I used to scoff at the HUGE variety of stamps and stencils that are available in the market. In fact, I still think that if a design is special use only, it is a waste of money to buy a stamp or stencil – it’s far better to learn how to draw that design, or better yet, create a custom design for your personal use.

All you need to invest in is one tool – an X-Acto knife – and you’re pretty much on your way.

Stamp carving 101

You can carve beautiful, complex designs on linoleum blocks, or you can take the quick and dirty route {like I typically do} and create some beautiful designs quickly and easily.

The easiest way to carve a stamp is to get your hands on a ubiquitous white eraser. Draw your design on the eraser and cut away the negative areas. Just remember that the stamp will give you a mirror image of your design, which is of particular relevance if you’re cutting alphabet stamps.

Hand carved fox stamp. Image courtesy

Don’t have an X-acto knife yet? Don’t worry. Just grab your scissors and a sheet of craft foam. You can create lovely shape stamps by cutting out shapes from your craft foam and sticking it on to a piece of cardboard in a pleasing arrangement.

Want something even quicker? Take your sheet of craft foam and draw your design on it with a pen. You’ll have to press down as you draw – ink it up and stamp away!

Stencil cutting 101

Cut your own stencils Image courtesy

You can splurge on a silhouette die cut machine that can also cut out stencils. Or spend a little elbow grease and cut out your own stencils. You’ll need an X-Acto knife and a piece of cardboard or a clear transparency sheet. Draw your design and cut away. If you cut carefully and retain the shape of the cut-out perfectly, you also have a mask for your stencil! Easy-peasy!

Put this lesson to work: Try carving a stamp or cutting a stencil and use it as a main element in your art journal.

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