Category Archives: stamp carving

Why are you so obsessed with that bowl?

That’s what my better half keeps asking. I don’t know the answer. There are a lot of bowls in my work.

Some are tea bowls. Some are oryoki bowls.  Some are broken, some are not. Sometimes a bowl is just a bowl.


Which is nice . . .

So this came in yesterday’s mail. I’m always happy to see it. But this time I was even happier than usual. One of the items chosen for display in the Reader Challenge Results, which featured hand carved stamps this time, was something that looked awfully familiar. This:

My sneakers! They were in amazing company on these pages–such beautiful things the other contributors had made.  I blush. Okay–done now. I’ll try to restrict myself to quiet giggling.

Another stab at organization

Magazine holder close-ups by floating ink
Magazine holder close-ups, a photo by floating ink on Flickr.

The art supplies are taking over the house. In an effort to corral some of the papers and paints, tools, brushes, books, and so on, I spent a little check I got for Christmas on some Ikea shelving. While I was there I also grabbed some of these easy to assemble cardboard magazine holders:

This afternoon I pulled out a huge roll of heavy brown kraft paper, some of my hand carved stamps and some Stayz-on stamp ink, and started working up some covers for the plain white boxes. You can see I used my official weights to hold the curled up paper in place, and the very correct pizza boxes that I use to transport my stamps:*
Within an hour or so I had three neatly covered boxes, the ones you see at the top of this post. I’m pretty chuffed about them.  I’m especially pleased with the scissors stamps, which I made by photocopying my two favorite pairs of scissors, cutting out their paper images, then tracing them onto kids’ craft Foamies (is that what those sheets are called?), cutting them out (with their original real-life counterparts), then using a dead ball point pen to make impressions of their details before stamping with them.

Anyway, I think they look great in the new shelves. If only they didn’t show up the way-overdue-for-fresh-paint walls behind them!


*Thanks to a generous donation from a friend, I may soon have a much classier way to store and transport the stamps–stay tuned.

Tea bowls on a tea bag

Tea bowls on teabag by floating ink
Tea bowls on teabag, a photo by floating ink on Flickr.

Remember the old riddle? You throw away the outside, cook the inside, then eat the outside and throw away the inside? At least, I think that’s how it went. The answer, of course–corn.

My newest art project has a similar bent. You throw away the outside (the tea bag wrapper), cook the inside (steeping the tea bag), put aside the inside (the now wet tea bag), and throw away the inside.

I’ve been having a wonderful time rescuing tea bags, hanging them to dry (on my art clothesline across the kitchen fireplace), then unfolding them, dumping out the shreds of tea inside (do dry first, and throwing out the old tea afterwards so that you get the most color out of the leaves and onto the fabric bag), then saving the tea bag paper for printing projects. And, yes, I can already hear some of you saying “Throw out the used tea leaves? Never!” I suppose they’d be good for dying and could also just be composted.

To gaze even further into my own navel, I’ve chosen to start with a print of–you guessed it–tea bowls.  A similar print ended up being incorporated into the encaustic painting I showed back in September. If you look at the larger version on my flickr page. at the top edge just to the left of the green ribbon, you can see (upside down) the tea bowl image printed on a tea bag. And again–faintly, almost directly below it, but right side up.

I’m also sort of digging this rabbit–he’s one of my favorite hand-carved stamps of all time and I’ve used him in many projects.

I’m going to continue to play with this tea bag paper–making a photocopy directly onto the tea bag is in the works, with a success rate (success being defined as not totally gumming up the copier) of about 35% so far.  I’m also piddling with some different kinds of tea, different tea bag fabrics and paper (I’ve got a little collection of silk tea bags I’m eager to try), and different lengths of time leaving the bags in contact with the paper.

Compare the tea bowl image at the top of this post, for instance, with the one below left (which stayed scrunched up with the wet tea leaves in it for almost a week), and take a look at the right-hand image, too–I’ve got some ideas for using the teabags cut up, too. If nothing else, it gives me lots of excuses to drink plenty of tea!

That thing that I made you that you don’t know what it is–I don’t know what it is either, but isn’t it awesome?

About this time last year I bought a gigantic plastic storage container at Goodwill. It was filled to the brim with those wonderful plain wooden building blocks for kids.  The old school kind that last forever. Rectangles, squares, cylinders, arches, and those cool wedge-of-cheese shaped blocks. I stowed them in the way-back of my 14 year old Subaru wagon, and didn’t really think of them again until the fates decided about 6 weeks ago that the Subaru’s time had come (I can’t complain: it hit the 250,000 thousand mile mark in June and had never, but never let me down). But it had to be cleaned out in preparation for moving to its new home, and the blocks came to light again and started nagging at me.

And then I needed a present for someone special.  And this was born:

Inspired by a number of different projects, I pulled together various tools and decorated papers–monoprinted, stamped, brush painted, watercolored and so on.  You can actually get a better look at the kind of things that ended up papering the block in these shots. I quite like the little green bit of paper with the fish and tadpoles on it–it has a wonderful (IIDSSM) 3-D look to it, but I assure you, it’s perfectly flat.

And these–the stamp of the little person in the hat was made for another project, but it makes a credible appearance here, I think.

On this block printed strip, which ended up on the front of the bridge, a recently carved fish stamp and a poem by Issa:

fish frolicking
on foot…

I assembled it all with Golden semigloss gel, let it dry (hurrying it along a bit with a heat gun) then covered the whole with a layer of natural colored encaustic medium.  Then I sat watching Top Gear (British version, of course) while I buffed all the surfaces to a nice low-level gloss, kissed it goodbye, and packed it for shipping to the birthday girl.

It’s called Chrysanthemum bridge, but I  still don’t know what it us. Maybe she will.

Storing stamps

You’ve seen bits and pieces of my handcarved rubber stamp collection, but I’ve always been too ashamed to show you how I store them. Those of you who are faint of heart (or are amongst those perfect people who clean every stamp off after every use and powder their little bottoms and tuck them into bed) might want to look away for a moment. Ready?

A mess, yes? You can’t say I didn’t warn you.

But the pizza box system has been working pretty well. Actually, maybe not so well. Things get dirty. And the MasterCarve ones (as much as I adore Master Carve, and I do) are prone to crumbling with lots of use and rough handling.  And there aren’t enough pizza boxes in the world–this is only one of many, so many that the pizza boxes themselves have to live in a big shopping bag. And on top of the pizza boxes in the shopping bag there are the kitchen match boxes (you know, the big ones), in which I store sets of stamps that were carved for a particular project–they belong together.

Finding the blocks meant for stamp mounting, the ones I showed you a few posts ago, that I found at Goodwill, has inspired me to try to clean up my act. Stop–you people who know me–stop snickering right this very minute. I can do it if I want to. Consider, for instance, this:

Not too shabby, huh? Some of the stamps required a little grooming with a razor blade to clean them up and make them fit on the tinier blocks, like this one:

And I stamped the image of each one onto an adhesive-backed mailing label and stuck that to the back of its stamp so I can find it more easily.

Some of the stamps I’ve made go with other specific stamps, and I’ve put these together on one stamp–see the little teakettle with its two cups? Those were originally three separate stamps. Similarly, the little green old school canning jar on top of the kettle-and-cups–that one goes with a tiny stamp of a spoon. I put them on the same label, but in this case the carved image is stuck to the broad side of the block and the spoon to the top so that I can stamp them in two different colors. I have quite a few little sets like this–evergreen boughs and pine cones, for instance, or a vase, a bundle of flower stems meant to be seen through the vase, along with a flower center that’s on yet another side (I usually ink or watercolor the petals by hand).

Overall, I am very pleased. Now I just need to keep haunting the Goodwill store until I find a few more mounting blocks. Say, a couple of hundred more.


No, it’s not the Acropolis

It’s my latest score from the Goodwill store. Over the weekend I prowled through their craft supplies and found 6 (SIX!) boxes of rubber stamps.  For a total of $6. The crafting kind. But, alas, the prefab, determined kind. I am never, though, going to use the rubber parts of these stamps. Cutesy designs. Way toooo cutesy for my taste.

Not that I’m 100% opposed to premade rubber stamps. I have a few. I might use them someday. But what I like best, of course, are my own creations–images of my choice carved out of some wonderful carving medium or another. Love these. Have hundreds of them. But what I don’t have–mostly–are wooden blocks to mount them on. You know, so you have something to hold onto while you’re stamping.

And the previous owner of these stamps, bless her (I’m assuming “her”) never mounted the rubber parts to the wooden block handles that came with them, so I can use them to back my stamps. Woo hoo!

Now, where’s my glue?