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Make Your Own Stamps out of Polymer Clay

If thereís a favorite design or word you like to carve or put into your clay, or if thereís one youíd like to, but you canít find the rubber stamp for it (or you canít afford the stamp for it!), then learning to make your OWN stamp will be a great assistance to you! These homemade stamps really come in handy.

Materials Needed:

  • Scrap polymer clay in any color or brand
  • Liquid Polymer clay: Translucent Liquid Sculpey or Kato Liquid Polyclay (I always use Kato)
Tools Needed:
  • Pasta Machine or acrylic roller
  • Makinís Professional Ultimate Clay Extruder (not required, but highly recommended!)
  • Tissue Blade
  • Xacto Knife
  • Clay shaper, rubber taper point #0 (or some other blunt tool, like a thin knitting needle, for writing)

Step 1: Begin by rolling out a sheet of clay on the thickest setting of your pasta machine, or about 1/8Ē thick. Write or draw your design into the clay. Donít think of this as carving, more like indenting. This is just a reference for yourself.

Step 2: Take your extruder and extrude the smallest snake possible. Itís best to use an extruder for stamp making because the snake is the same size all the way through (Itís also MUCH faster!). Lay the clay snake down on your pattern, cutting where necessary. With some practice, youíll master pushing the snake on the clay so it sticks without actually squishing the snake at all.

Step 3: When youíre finished laying the clay down, you may notice that you followed your original pattern perfectly or that your snakes of clay didnít fit in what you drew. Thatís fine. If you donít follow the pattern perfectly, itís okay. The missed pattern underneath wonít show up when you stamp. The main thing is making sure your laid down snakes look nice. If they donít, just mush it up and make it again!

Step 4: Once youíre happy with the way your stamp looks, cut around it with your tissue blade. Cut close to the edge, but not too close. Make sure you leave ample space between the edges of your shaped snakes of clay and the edge of the stamp itself. They just seem to work better that way.

Step 5: Take another piece of scrap clay and roll it into a large oval shape as shown. Make it twice as long as you want the handle for your stamp to be.

Step 6: Cut the oval shape in half with your tissue blade and push the flat end of one half onto your work surface. Squeeze the top and bottom sides slightly, and do the same on the sides. This creates a nice little shaped handle for you to hold onto while stamping. It will fit your own fingers perfectly!

Step 7: Bake the two pieces according to the manufacturerís instructions. I usually just do the full time for the 1/4" thickness, even though my stamp is not that thick, because the handle is a lot thicker. Youíre baking twice, so the handle will get cooked. Make scratches with your Xacto knife on the back of the baked stamp.

Step 8: Make a lot of scratches on the flat underside of your little handle, too. These scratches help the liquid polymer clay to hold the pieces together better.

Step 9: Put a little dot of liquid polymer clay onto your stamp, as shown. Spread it out, but leave a border all around the back surface of the stamp. When you push your handle on, some of it will squeeze out, and you donít want it running down the sides and onto your beautiful stamp.

Step 10: Squish your handle and the back of your stamp together. See how some of the liquid polymer clay pushed out? If you only used a small amount (like I told you!), you should be able to hold them together for a few seconds and then lay them down and they wonít come apart. Bake again on a bed of polyester fiberfill (or crumpled up paper towels, lol? just something to hold it up while baking!) according to the manufacturerís instructions for at least 20 minutes to really set that liquid clay and to finish cooking your handle.

Step 11: Once it is all baked and cooled, get ready to use it! Get your stamp wet (I must admit I've licked these in a hurry, but a wet, folded paper towel works really well, too. Just think of using it like a stamp pad before you stamp.) and impress gently into your project, using very slight, and I mean slight, rocking motions up down and side to side so that you really make sure youíve impressed the image in the clay. Pull your stamp away. If you notice that any one part was not stamped very well, just take your shaper tool and indent in that spot, and youíre good to go!

No one will ever guess you made your treasure?much leess that you made your own stamp! This stuff is what makes your work truly one of a kind, truly unique, and completely, absolutely your own. Youíll get totally addicted to making your own stamps, trust me! If itís not because making them is so darned fun, itís because your piece just feels different when youíre finished. I usually express it like this, "I feel like I created it, not just like I made it." I hope you enjoyed the tutorial!

Here are some pieces I've made with my newest word stamps, as well as some of my stamp collection. The top one (Hope) is the one featured in this tutorial and it was sanded (320-2000) and machine buffed to a shine. I haven't gotten that far on the other ones yet. They really do look beautiful in person, and add a sweet, unexpected touch to a bed of plain river rocks. Note my mark stamp on the back of the beads. My boss (I work as the jewelry instructor at a local large craft store) told me in my interview that she was mainly impressed with me because she thought I was so professional for having my mark made into a stamp for my beads. And then I told her that I had made my stamp and she started laughing and said, "Even better!" And then I got the job! So you never know where these things will take you!

Click Pictures for a Larger View

Kathy Canuel
©2008 Text and Photos

We want to thank Kathy for sharing this excellent tutorial with Polymer Clay Central. If you have a lesson or tutorial, or something you would like to share with PCC, please email Leigh or Stephen and we will help you prepare your project for the PCC Website!

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