18 Jan 2011

Faux Bois Valentines-A DIY Rubber Stamp Carving Tutorial

I thought it was about time that I posted a rubber stamp tutorial. This design might look like a tricky stamp to carve, but it's actually super easy. The beautiful thing about wood grain, is that there are no "rules"- So if you go off track, no one will ever know!
Aside from some blank rubber block (which I've just realized that
I've forgotten in my list-durrr), you'll need a few tools.

1. Ink pad. (any ink pad will do!)

2.Scissors. This is just for cutting your heart out in the end. (ok, I just re-read that. Not YOUR heart. You will cut out a PAPER heart.) I'll bet you never thought valenetines could be so violent;)

3.A bone folder. If you don't have one, the back of a spoon or the
handle of a butter knife will do.

4. A 4b (or softer) pencil. I didn't use a 4b, I used a 2b, and see
how light my lines are? They should be darker! Seeing as I've done this a few times, I didn't bother using my 4b.(My 4B may or may not have been holding up my hair at the time...)

5. Xacto knife, or utility knife. Xacto does have a lot more precision though, so anything long that comes to a fine tip will be okay.

6. A small V tip Carver-I use a speedball size 1. You can use larger, but keep in mind, the smaller the tip, the smaller the lines will be.

7. Clip Art. (which will be at the bottom of this post.)

8.Chip board or card stock-your call! (or any other surface you feel
like printing;)
Step 1. Print off clip art to your preferred size. Mine is
about 2.5"x3" .
Go over the lines with your freshly sharpened 4b pencil.

2. Once all the lines are covered in pencil, turn the artwork
over, face down onto your carving block. You can position it however
you like, just make sure that the artwork isn't hanging over the edge.

Gently rub the back of your artwork with the edge of the bone folder, until you've rubbed the entire heart onto the block. (This will feel a lot like putting on a temporary tattoo;)

You can lift the edges slightly now and then to see if it's transferred completely. If it has, remove the paper. If it hasn't, continue to rub the back until it's completely transferred. Be careful to hold it down with one hand while transferring, as it can slide around and cause double lines.
3. Now that your design is transferred, use your xacto and cut your design from your carving block. Not exactly on the outside line, just roughly, to remove it from the rest of your block.

4. Now that the heart is separated from the rest of the block and easier to handle, you can carefully cut around the shape of the heart. If you really want to, you could do this at the very end-I always do it before hand though, because I find it easier to maneuver while carving this way.

5. This is the fun part! Now you get to take your carver and carefully cut each pencilled line. Gently push the blade away from you, keeping the tip of the blade almost parallel with the surface of the carving block. Keep in mind, the deeper you cut, the wider your lines will be.

If you wanted to, you could make a reverse image, and remove all the empty space for a completely different look. (That would be a bit trickier.) But If you're up for a challenge, have at it!

6. This step is optional. I chose to remove the middle square from my heart, and leave the space empty. If you don't want to do this, that's a-ok. It will just mean that in the end, this part will be inked, rather than blank.

You could use a larger tip for this too, and cut deeper, if you want fewer lines to show up in the end. I rather like the added texture though, it adds an extra "hand carved" feel to the print in the end, so I continued to use my small tip for this.
7. Now you get to use your stamp! I find that with stamps this large, it's easier to do things a little backwards.

Rather than pressing the stamp onto the pad, press the stamp pad on to the stamp. This way you can see if it's thoroughly inked, if the ink is even, and you don't get near as much ink on your fingers;)

8. Stamp your hearts out onto your card stock. As you stamp, be sure to press all over the back of your stamp, to get a completely transferred image.

That's one of the beauties of hand carved stamps; you can selectively press different areas of the stamp at a time.
If you didn't want the middle hollowed out square to show up at all, you wouldn't have to press there.

Last but not least, cut your hearts out and voila! I punched a hole in mine and strung some sweet bakers twine through them and used them as tags. You could play cupid though, if you wanted to, and hand them out to your truly best-est buddies.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me through my stamp shop, where I'll soon be carrying stamp carving supplies!



  1. Cute! Nice tutorial thanks :)

  2. This is so cute! I love faux bois stuff right now!

  3. so adorable! what a great tuturial!!

  4. Love this!! featured it on my blog, here: http://punkprojects.blogspot.com/2011/01/make-it-monday_24.html


  5. Glad you've all enjoyed it!
    Thanks so much, Katie!:)

  6. Great tutorial!

    I used to carve stamps all the time when I was in a printmaking guild but I lost a lot of my tools.

  7. found the link from your Etsy site while looking for supplies. I am completely new to this so your tutorial was a great find!
    Thanks bunches:D
    Beth P

  8. I know you may not see this, given that this post was from a ways back, but what brand of rubber block are using? Mine keep crumbling! Do you have any brand recommendations and/or anti-crumbling tips for the beginner?

    Thank you so much, and I love your blog (and your Etsy shop!)!

  9. Hi Juliet,
    I buy mine from a local rubber company-If you email me though I could list some in my shop for you, if you like;) themayberrysparrowATyahooDOTca

  10. Thanks so much! I found a pink sheet of rubber (made by Speedball) at a local craft store. Have you ever used it? If so, what do you think of its quality? Btw, I just ordered your Mayberry Sparrow stamp--the first of many orders, I suspect! :)

  11. I have used speedball, and i like the quality-I haven't had a hard time with that kind crumbling. It's a little thinner than what I use, if I remember correctly, but works very well.

    My only complaint with that variety is the high box store price tag. (I've only ever seen it at places hobby lobby, ac moore michaels and joanne etc...)
    You might be able to find it, or something like it at dick blick-depending on where you're located.
    I'm in Canada so I don't order from dick blick because the shipping would be astronomical, but if I were in the USA i'd order from them in a heart beat!

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.