I’m involved with some art journal groups this year. I haven’t kept up with the weekly prompts, but I am doing some of them and maybe I will catch up eventually. I see many of the artists in my groups using stamps in their work and I wanted to do some stamping too, but I also knew I wanted to make my own stamps so I figured I might as well learn how to do that for my art journal pages. I found a book on stamps to read up on the process. I bought some supplies. Then I started experimenting!
I tried the linoleum first because it was what I was most familiar with. It was really hard to carve. I found it difficult to scrape away the linoleum. I only cut myself once so I am still claiming VICTORY! Once I had the stamp carved I used a brayer to apply some printing ink to my stamp. I turned the block over and pressed the stamp into the paper, but I think the linoleum was too rigid to make a clean, solid print. It might have come out better if I was able to put the block through a printing press and really squeeze it to the paper. Unfortunately I don’t possess a press so I can’t try that out right now.
I wasn’t too happy with how hard the linoleum was to carve or with the way it printed. It was a lot of work and a lot of disappointment. I think it might work better with a smaller block, but I haven’t tried that yet so I don’t know for sure.
Next I tried the E-Z printing block. It was like a big floppy rubber eraser. It carved like butter. I had to be careful about not cutting off more than I meant too, but quickly adjusted my pressure and started enjoying the process. It was so easy to carve that my four year old was able to do it. What a joy to work with! I cut the tree out of the block using an x-acto knife and was able to use the extra pieces to make some smaller stamps too (see the bird in the above photo).
I liked the way the E-Z printing block printed better than the linoleum. The rubber was completely flat on the paper allowing the printing ink to stick to the paper and create a lovely print. It was so much easier to carve. I don’t think I’ll bother with the linoleum again. The only problem with the E-Z block was it can crumble which makes me wonder how long the stamps will last for.
I was really excited about how my tree stamp printed. I just ordered some ink pads so I can see how the rubbery stamps print using that kind of ink next. I’ll keep you posted on how printing with an ink pad comes out in comparison.
I have plans to create many more stamps so I will have plenty of experimenting to do.
I am using this tree stamp to create hand stamped cards for my customers. It’s been fun using different colors of printing ink to see how the tree comes out. I am looking forward to making more prints and using my original stamps to decorate shipping envelopes for my online sales. It’s a pretty easy and fun way to customize your packaging and to help you establish the often elusive “branding” that businesses are always trying to capture. It’s also just fun to send mail to your friends in really cool envelopes.
Have you done any stamping? Do you have a favorite stamp related art product? I am interested in trying new things to see what I like to use best. Your tips and insights would be extremely helpful!
Nothing beats a DIY (do it yourself) gift around the holidays, especially if you have someone who says, “I don’t want anything” when you ask them what they want (those people are SO annoying, aren’t they?), or someone who seems to have everything they could possibly ever want or need, or when your bank account is beginning to dwindle and you have time, but not much money. These are the instances when I say step away from the store and step into your own mind and heart. Think about what might be truly meaningful to the person you are making the gift for. I’ll give you a hint: If you put a lot of thought into it your gift will likely end up costing next to nothing.
Without further ado I give you 10 Almost Free DIY Gifts:
*If you happen to have some photos of you and the person you plan to bestow a gift upon…keep them. We’ll be using them often in this list.
1. Choose an event, from the past, that you documented in photographs and turn it into a freak-show poster board or mini photo book. What makes it a freak-show? I’m about to tell you. What you are going to do is take the photos and cut the heads off. Seriously…chop away. Oh, don’t use your originals. Get some copies…just a few cents each at any copy center or photo print shop. Then you go on the hunt for old magazines and start cutting out some bodies for those heads. You can also draw the bodies on (the worst you draw the better so don’t let that stop you) or use fancy scrapbook papers too (if you have some hanging around). Then create a scene on the poster board by gluing the characters in.
I once made a book like this for my mom highlighting a family camping trip we took one year. I added speech bubbles so I could include funny “inside-jokes” or have family members being ridiculous. I cut out a tent from a magazine and had people standing around a campfire. The bodies and heads were out of proportion, or wearing super-model clothes, or even half human, half pet bodies. It was fun to read. Think of it as making your own silly comic book to curate some of your favorite memories in.
2. If you have an especially excellent photo of you and your favorite gift recipient put it in a frame (you can get one at a thrift store for cheap) and then write a beautiful letter to go with it. Tell that person, in great detail, about a moment (or moments) where what they said or did made your life better, saved you from crisis, set your soul free…or whatever it is that you have always wanted to share with them, but felt too vulnerable to actually share. For example you might write something like this:
That time you came to the hospital and sat with my mother when I couldn’t be there meant the world to me. I was so worried about her, but knowing you were there gave me so much comfort. I want you to know how much I appreciated you doing that. It was such a tough time and you restored my faith in humanity. Since then I always try to help someone when they need it and I don’t wait for them to ask. I hope you realize how much you changed the way I look at things…
Or like this:
Don’t tell the other uncles, but you have always been my favorite. You might not remember this, but when I was eight you encouraged me to face my fears and go on the big roller coaster at the local amusement park. I remember being so scared, but once I did it I felt so confident. You probably don’t realize what a big impact that moment had on me. I’m thirty years old now and whenever I feel scared about doing something I think back to that time I rode the roller coaster and it always helps me be brave…
3. Make a big list of the funniest moments or inside jokes of all time. Or a list of your favorite memories. This is especially appreciated by your oldest friends. Include when you got in trouble together or accomplished a goal. My list might include things like: 1. Remember that time on the bus when John was bullying us and you shoved him up against a window and the bus driver pretended not to notice because he was sick of John too? That was so awesome. I remember it to this day. I’ll never forget the look on Johns face. You were my hero that year because John stopped taunting me too. 2. Remember how we used to make our own Barbie clothes out of old socks and then have fashion shows? I remember that time we made your mom sit on the couch and rate each outfit from 1-10. Your mom was such a good sport. I really miss her sometimes…
4. Write a song. What? You aren’t a song writer? Don’t worry, I’m not either. All you have to do is steal one of your favorite songs and rewrite the lyrics. I did it with an REO Speedwagon Song once (what in the what is a “speedwagon” anyway?). Make sure it’s about the person you are writing it for, or just really funny so it makes them giggle. If you are super brave, record yourself singing it too and upload it to YouTube and send your friend the link. Don’t be a Scrooge, give them the url so they can share it on social media and “humble brag” about how awesome you are.
5. Make a list of people you and your gift recipient have in common. Then go around with your cell phone and take video of them answering this question: What is you favorite thing about Mr. X? (fill in the name of your friend or family member, obviously) Edit the videos and splice them together on your computer then upload them to YouTube. Send your friend the link…or burn it onto a DVD…or save it to a USB driver. It’s the fastest way to make people cry the happy tears. I promise.
6. Get them a kitten! Kittens are often free. They make nice companions. If you don’t want to get a real kitten you could always make a paper maché one! All you need is some flour, some glue, an old glass jar, some newspaper, and paint. If your neighbor gets the paper and has a recycling bin just ask him or her if you can raid it. We have even gotten some old newspapers from our local newspaper office. They were happy to part with a few stacks of old news. Paint might be pricey if you don’t happen to have it already…like I do, but craft paint is pretty cheap. Sometimes you can get it for 75 cents and with cats you really just need three colors. Think eyes (yellow or green), fur, and maybe a black to do some outlining. Hate cats? That’s OK, you can make any animal you want to. Check out my PAPER MACHÉ Pinterest board to get ideas and for paper maché paste recipes. Hint: there is even a tutorial on making a trophy animal unicorn head.
7. Using your phone’s audio or video recorder, record yourself telling the story of “how we met” or your first memory of that person (if it is a relative). These can be great stories. Don’t overlook them! If you are camera and audio shy don’t despair! You can type your story up and print it on some fancy paper. Frame it. This can be a great gift to give to your grown child or best friend. Make sure to include your thoughts and feelings surrounding the event. Sensory details always bring back the most memories. For your child you might start with something like, “The first time I held you in the hospital I remember the way your eyes opened so wide to take in all of the lights and the way your tiny, amazing hands were opening and closing on your blanket. In that moment I knew you would have me wrapped around your tiny, little finger for life and occupy a huge space in my heart until the day I died. ” For a friend you might say start with, “I was the new girl at school and I felt so lonely, but you changed all of that. The moment you waved for me to sit next to you, and we were both wearing purple and had pigtails in our hair, I knew we were going to be friends forever…”
9. Plan a kidnapping. Ok, don’t call it that, we don’t want anyone getting arrested, but seriously, plan a day out as a gift. The gift of time spent with you will make people smile because you are fun to be around right? So plan the day. Find free things to do in your area and make a list. Pack a picnic. Do whatever you can to make it a “surprise” day. Then make an invitation with the date (or decide that together) and explain that you are kidnapping them for a day of fun. Wrap the invitation up in several boxes…you know where you start with a small box and wrap that in a bigger box and then a bigger box and so on and so on? Make it really fun to unwrap. Everyone wants a day out that has been preplanned so they don’t have to make decisions and just get to enjoy themselves…especially mothers. This is a great gift for mothers. P.S. Leave the kids at home!
10. Books. Stacks of books. I’m telling you, books are practically a dime a dozen with all of the electronic book reading gadgets available now. If you go to a thrift store they are often begging people to take the books off of their hands. I once got a bunch of art books I had been ogling at the bookstore for pennies on the dollar at a local thrift store. If someone you know has a certain interest be on the look out for books that fit that criteria. If your gift recipient loves to read fiction, I’m telling you now, when you get to the thrift store you’ll feel like you have hit the jackpot. The key with making this gift impressive is to get a big pile of books. Make a giant stack tied with a big, red ribbon or fill a big box with them. If you don’t want to bring a dolly to deliver your very heavy box-o-books just get a couple of the best books you can find. Instead of bedazzling your favorite person with the sheer number of books, open each book and bedazzle him or her with a personal message from you on the books inside cover instead. I’m telling you, there are books I’ve had for years with personal notes written in them by loved ones. They are some of my most prized possessions.
If you still need more ideas try visiting my Home Made Gifts For Any Occasion Pinterest board. There are lots of ideas for people who want to make something more personal or for those who are trying to stay within a budget.
Well, that wraps up my gift giving guide. Do you have any other almost free DIY gifts you’d like to add to the list? Leave a link in the comments.
Got a gift giving guide you want to share? Leave a link in the comments!
We need all of the help we can get when it comes to gift giving, right? I know I do.
Have you ever wanted to make a magnetic bumper sticker for your car? I did. I figured out how to do it too. Yay me! I am officially declaring myself a magnetic bumper sticker genius because why not? This is my blog, right?
Anyway, I was thinking about how Jim and I are getting ready to drive for miles and through a few states and that it would be really cool to get some “not my home state,” free advertising in for this blog. I mean, more people should be reading about Tiny-Small and my wacky paintings and all of that jazz. Then it hit me: I NEED A BUMPER STICKER! So, I went looking around to have one made, but since I am really cheap and like to try do everything myself I spent some time drinking coffee, think-think-thinking, and staring out of my window (my other non-paying part-time job).
Sometimes all of that thinking pays off. I remembered I had some of those Avery Magnet Sheets left over from when I was turning my art into magnets. Then I remembered a little thing called picmonkey.com where you can mess around with photos and text and other images…I figured out how to make a magnetic bumper sticker so I could be all famous with at least two to three people in the New Mexico, Arizona, California tri-state area who get stuck behind my car in traffic.
Here is how I did it and how you can too:
Step One: You need some supplies: a computer, a printer, some of those magnetic sheets with paper on one side, and some kind of acrylic spray sealer.
Step Two: Go to picmonkey.com and load the picture you want to use into “edit a photo” this will be the background of your bumper sticker. I wanted mine to be white, so I copied and pasted a white background and saved it as a photo file. Then uploaded it to picmonkey.com.
Step three: Resize your photo, or crop it. For a standard sized bumper sticker (11.5 inches by 3.75 inches you will need to resize or crop your photo to 881 x 281 pixels. If you want a different size bumper sticker (some cars have different sized flat spaces) you can use this Image Size Calculator from Tiporama to convert pixels into inches.
Step 4: Use the text button to add words. Picmonkey has pictures and textures and all kinds of fun things you can add to your image. Once you are done with the design, save it to your computer.
Step 5: Print it onto your magnetic paper sheets.
Step 6: Cut it out. I used a paper-cutter, but it’s easy to cut with scissors too.
Step 7: Spray it with some kind of acrylic coating to waterproof it. I used KRYLON CRYSTAL CLEAR because I happened to have some. It’s kind of pricey though. I think Plaid Mod Podge Clear Acrylic Sealer, Gloss would also do the job just fine. Anything that brushes on may or may not smear your ink. So, if you have the brush-on mod podge you might try it on a scrap and see how it works before applying it to your fancy bumper sticker. Sprays are less likely to smear the printer ink, but more likely to kill you with their bad odor so take precautions. Use it in a well ventilated area. Wear a mask, wear gloves, con your spouse into doing it…whatever it takes to get the job done safely!
Step 8: Slap that bad boy onto your car and go for a drive.
I took my bumper sticker on a 180 mile road trip yesterday and it did just fine. We are getting ready to make an 18 hour road trip, so I’ll let you know what happens! The best part is you can print at least two bumper sticker per magnetic sheet, so you can also make one for your mom. That way she can also advertise your business for free. That’s what I am going to do. She can’t say no, she’s my mom. Or, you can just make silly bumper stickers to make your friends smile. Which would also be awesome and fun.
Got any questions? Just ask. If I missed a step in there let me know. I am happy to help in any way I can!
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