Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Evolution of a stamp design

As you know,I design for an emerging stamp company called october pumpkin, which is the happy brainchild of my daughter Stephanie. A couple of friends have asked how a stamp design is "hatched". How does it become a rubber stamp? I just created a new stamp design yesterday and thought some of you might like to follow this process.

As you see above, there are many rejected designs on the way to an acceptable end result! I rejected all the drawings you see in the gathering of nine starfish. They are all rough drafts, but even in that state I could see there was something in each one that made them "wrong" for various reasons.

In the set of two seashells with a sand stamp in the upper left corner, you see the finished design I finally came up with. This piece is ready to go to the stamp manufacturer.

(Note to any stamp design pirates - the stamp designs are copyrighted!)

To get going with a stamp design, you start with a sheet of blank white cardstock and a black ink pen. It's helpful to look at a number of photos of your subject to sort of get in the mood and understand the basic structure of your subject. In my case it was a starfish, to continue my seashell series. I needed to review starfish anatomy, which isn't easy because there are lots and lots more kinds of starfish than you'd imagine! If you want to design a stamp, your own subject might be a flower, a snowman, a logo, a tea cup, or anything else that appeals to you. Whatever you choose, the process of development will usually be the same.

Next, I spend a few hours experimenting with different approaches. I incorporate
original interpretations at times, or stay with a literal image at other times, trying to put together a visual presentation that will tell me where to go with my drawing.

It's fascinating and often frustrating how a design can seem to be going so well, but suddenly the addition of just one false note, one wrong line, ruins the whole thing! Then you have to discard it and start over! Never try to rush this process, but take as much time and effort as needed to get the best result possible.

It's part of the fun to keep trying until you finally end up with that one final drawing that you can consider your best effort.

The drawing is then refined, a long process of redrawing it again and again with nearly-invisible corrections until it's just right. At this point I use a light box to trace my design onto the final cardstock to be used in photographing it for stamp manufacture.

Then it is sent (either as a single design or as part of a sheet of other designs) to the manufacturer, who then uses the paper drawing to fashion a metal mold known as the matrix. Rubber is poured into the matrix. When it hardens you have a sheet of stamps! Ta-daaaah! Ours have a cushion applied, though this is optional, but we like the way the cling cushion allows for a much better stamping impression.

The sheet of cushioned stamps are then cut apart with a scroll saw and packaged to mail out to our customers and our online retailer. By then I am busy with the next run of stamp designs!

Whether you're a wannabe stamp designer or a stamp user, it's satisfying to know how stamps are produced. It's always a big thrill to be creative with rubber stamps, both in the designing and in the use of them!

1 comment:

  1. I like all the practice starfish too!!!! Maybe a starfish set would be fun!!!