Not every project we come up with here at Thrifty Below turns out perfect. In fact, far from it. I would say about 50% of my attempts at a new craft end up in disaster. Okay, so maybe disaster is a bit dramatic, but they don’t end up the way I envisioned them. This was one of those projects, and I’d like to share with you the not-so-perfect results, in hopes we can both learn from my mistakes.
I’ve always loved stamping. I also love personalizing things. Personalized stamps can cost quite a bit of money, though. I’ve seen stamps cut out of blocks of rubber (usually erasers) and that looked like way too much work, and like it would be hard to get right without accidentally shaving the wrong parts off. I was experimenting with silicone, because of another project I did (Dog Nose Necklaces) and thought I might be able to just makes stamps out of the silicone.
First, I found a tub of plaster and bought a tube of bath caulk (this is a much cheaper route to go than buying the silicone putty like I did with the last silicone project).
My first step in this process was making a negative. I needed to have something the silicone would peel off of easily, would have a smooth surface, and that I could easily carve into. I chose plaster. I mixed up some plaster in a plastic tupperware, let it harden overnight, and then, in the morning, drew on it with a sharpie. I chose some quick simple things, like my first name, my initials, and a drawing of our Thrifty Below logo. I then took my dremil, and carved these designs into the plaster.
In order to turn the silicone into putty, and not into it’s sticky paste form, you have to use a catalyst. In this case, we can use regular dish soap (has to contain glycerine) and a bit of warm water. I used a really high concentration. I found the more dish soap I used, the less sticky the silicone became and the easier it was to work with. While learning about silicone putty, I started wondering why I just couldn’t use regular bathtub silicone, which led me to this genius tutorial by artist Audrey Obscura.
After mixing my warm water and dish soap (again, I didn’t measure, the amount really depends on how much silicone you plan to use at one time), I started to squeeze the silicone out of the tube and into the bowl. At first, the silicone is very sticky. Once you squeeze out enough, you can stick your hands in the bowl and start to work with it like clay. Knead it a bit with your fingers so as much surface area gets exposed to the soapy water as possible, then fold it over on itself and do it again. After a few minutes, once it reaches the consistency of soft clay, you’re ready to work.
Next, I took a little bit of putty out, and placed a layer about a half inch thick onto the plaster where I’d carved my designs. I pressed the silicone down into the plaster with my fingers, then let it sit.
When the silicone putty had dried completely (this doesn’t take a lot of time at all, so you have to work kind of fast once you remove the silicone from the soapy water), I pulled the silicone pieces off, and cut them apart with a box cutter.
Then, they’re ready to use. You can either attach them to a block of wood (to look like a real stamp) or use them as is (though this is a little difficult because you don’t have the leverage when pushing them down).
So, because this is a blog post about mistakes and projects not turning out just right, let’s go over what I did wrong so hopefully you can make yours better than mine (and I can make better ones next time).
WHAT I DID WRONG:
1. I should have chosen designs with much thicker lines.
2. I should have carved my designs deeper, so the silicone parts of the design could extend far enough out when stamping, and not cause the shaddowy parts around the design.
3. I should have added a wooden base or something, and glued the silicone to it, so I can more easily stamp evenly.
This is a good start, but obviously not a perfect project. Let me know if you take a stab at it, and perfect it.