There are, I think, plenty of great books already for people who want ideas of what to make once they have some stamps (and you can make the same projects with store bought stamps as you can with hand-carved ones) -- I'm more interested in the technical details of creating my own designs. So I'm going to be doing a lot of testing and experimenting, which will be the raw material for a book to share what I learn.
To get started, I pretty much ordered one of every kind of material that seemed suitable from Dick Blick Art Materials (because they have a pretty good selection, and decent prices/shipping). And I had a few things already on hand (one of which, I just realized, I left out of my photo).
The list so far:
- Blick EZ Cut
- Speedball Speedy Carve
- Moo Carve
- Inovart Eco Karve
- Inovart Smooth Cut
- Richeson Clear Carve Linoleum
- Speedball Speedy Cut Easy
- Soft Kut
- Speedball Speedy Cut
- white plastic eraser
- black rubber mat
The black rubber mat is actually sold as a non-slip surface protector for cutting lino on, but I thought I'd try cutting it as a stamp just to see how it would work. It looks like there may be a few new things at Blick that they didn't have when I ordered, so I'll probably update the list eventually.
What I will not be using (though I use it for printmaking) is linoleum. It makes an excellent relief printing surface, and I love working with it, but it's not nearly soft enough for rubber stamping. (And the Richeson Clear Carve in the list above, while called "linoleum," isn't really, so I'm going to try it). I'm also not going to use foam printing elements because while they're fun, they're too soft to produce good results, and don't stand up to heavy use.
My initial tests will simply be how well these materials cut. Then I'll compare how well they take ink (and what kinds of ink), and how well they print when used as a rubber stamp (rather than in a press like a printing plate). I'll also try them with and without a layer of foam (it adds give and can make harder materials print better in some cases).
Over time, I'll keep track of how well the materials last, and I may save some of the bits trimmed off so I can try leaving them out in the sun, leaving them in a damp area, and that sort of thing.