Rubber Stamps and 3D Collage

Dimensional or 3D Collage is an art form where you incorporate 3D objects with paper and images to produce a finished piece. When you add rubber stamps into the mix, you can end up with really beautiful pieces that feature your favorite stamp images and are suitable for shadow box framing.

This seasonal piece is all about Autumn… brightly-colored falling leaves, the donning of warm clothes, harvesting nuts, and that brisk chill in the air that starts to smell a just a bit like winter …but the turning leaves are nature in full glory.

2015-10-24 09.11.05

To start, I chose Children Feeding Squirrels as my focal image. The whole collage will be built around this image. I stamped it in black on pale gray card stock. Next, using the same card stock, I stamped Maple Leaf in overlapping images of red and gold. This stamp makes a great repeated background pattern. I watercolored and then mounted the focal image on blue card stock, and then used dimensional foam sticky dots to adhere it to the leaf background.

I must confess I really wanted to show off this photo of our sugar maple tree in peak color…isn’t it glorious? All that red and gold against a cool cloudless blue sky… well, I just love it. I scaled the digital image to the size I needed and printed it on glossy card stock. Then I found a piece of red corrugated cardboard that grounds the whole piece and adds textural interest.

Lastly, I added my 3D embellishments. If you get into 3D collage, start collecting little bits of this-and-that when they catch your eye. Ribbons are great, especially the wired ribbon because you can bend and form it into interesting shapes like the bow here. The small red chrysanthemum is also from my collection of dimensional “doodads” as I like to call them. It adds interest to the bow, and also hides the floral wire I wrapped around the ribbon. Use a good glue like E6000 craft adhesive to keep the 3D objects in place.

I was satisfied at this point and stopped here, but could have kept going. More images? More dimensional objects…burlap and buttons perhaps? Maybe a handwritten quote or some word stamps? The whole process of dimensional collage is playfully creative, so you can do whatever strikes your fancy.

Rubber Stamps and Postage Stamps!

Postage stamps are a great addition to your rubber stamp art. I have a lot of postage stamps from all over the world, many that I collected as a kid. They never had much monetary value, but I think they have great value as little works of art that add interest to my stamped pieces.  At some point in a fit of tidying-up I sorted them into separate envelopes with themes like “birds”, “fruit”, and “transportation”. This turned out to be pretty helpful, as they are now easy to sort through to find appropriate images for card-making and collage.

Here is an example of a simple collage with several postage stamps and a rubber stamp scene about wind-borne sailing vessels. I used a brayer over white card stock to add a mottled layer of blue ink, and then went over this with lightly-sponged silver ink to even out the tone of the blue. When the background layer was dry, I stamped Clipper Ship and Man Walking in black ink. Then I added the postage stamps, glued in a pattern that I thought was appealing and worked well with the stamped images. Lastly I added the quote in black and silver gel ink:

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”

IMG_0769

A Spooky “Specimen” Card for Halloween

This Halloween card was inspired by a trip to a local shop that specializes in natural history that is filled with all kinds of bones, bugs and mounted specimens. Kids love it and can hardly walk by the store front without standing nose-to-glass to peer at their fabulous window display. Needless to say, with its nod to the macabre the place really comes into its own with the approach of Halloween!

To make this specimen display card, take a piece of white card stock and trim it into three strips of equal width. Next, stamp several different “spooky” images, leaving plenty of space around each one, as if you were going to mount each one for display. I used the following images by Nature’s Blessings Fine Art Stamps in black ink: Bat, Skeleton, Skeleton’s Skull, Skeleton’s Torso, and Spider.

Next, cut each strip to separate your images. Choose your desired background (mine is a marbled art paper like the kind used for book binding). Arrange your images into a pleasing grid, leaving a bit of space around each image. If you like, you can use one or more squares for a message as I’ve done below. Then add your spooky greeting. Happy Halloween!

spooky_grid

Super Easy Spooky Jewelry for Halloween!

This spooky jewelry set is not only incredibly easy to make, it is fast! Once you have the materials on hand you can make these in less than an hour.

spooky_jewelry

You will need:

  • Bat and Skeleton’s Skull by Nature’s Blessings Fine Art Stamps
  • White shrink plastic
  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • Black StayzOn ink
  • 2 earring wires
  • 2 jump rings
  • Short pieces of chain
  • Jewelry pliers and cutters
  • Flat metal tag (round, dog tag style, whatever your preference is)
  • Cord or chain for necklace

To make the earrings:

Take a piece of white shrink plastic, and rough up the surface a bit with fine-grit sandpaper. This helps the ink adhere to it. Next, stamp bat two times with StayzOn ink and cut them from the sheet, leaving at least 1/4 inch around the image – you can make a rough cut as you’ll be cutting them out more carefully in a moment. Next take a 1/8 inch punch and punch a hole at each end of the bat wings. This is where you will be attaching the chain. Now carefully cut out around each bat, leaving about 1/8 inch around the punched holes. Shrink the plastic using your oven or heat tool according to the package directions.

Using your wire cutters, cut about 1.5 inches of chain. If the links are all the same size, you’ll want an odd number of links so that there is one center one you can hang from the earring wire. Open and attach one jump ring to one of the holes. While it is still open, thread on the last link on one end of the piece of chain. Close the jump ring with your pliers. Attach the other end of the chain to another jump ring looped through the other hole. Find the center link of the chain, and thread it through the earring wire (depending on the design of the earring wire, you may need another jump ring for this). The bats should be evenly balanced, and swing freely from each earring wire.

To make the necklace:

Stamp Skeleton’s Skull on a metal tag with StayzOn ink. (If you make a mistake or don’t like the placement of the image, you can wipe it off with rubbing alcohol and redo it.) When the ink is dry, attach the pendant to a cord or chain of your choice. I used a cord here, but if you use a chain, you will probably want hang the tag using a jump ring.


Victorian Tintype-Look with Rubber Stamps

Tintype photography is going through something of an artistic revival. I recently sat for a tintype portrait myself, and found the process (which I was able to watch) and result fascinating. Here is a way to recreate the look of a tintype with rubber stamps. You’ll need a piece of coated metallic card stock. A warm silver-color should work well. You’ll also want black and silver pigment inks.

IMG_0280

Stamp the image you want to use on the metallic card stock in black pigment ink and trim it to size (you’ll want it to look like a small photograph). I used Lady 1 by Nature’s Blessings Fine Art Stamps.

Next, using a small sponge dauber, shade the edges and corners a bit with the same black ink. It doesn’t need to look perfectly regular, in fact if you make it a bit smudged and irregular that is a better effect. You can even wipe off the ink here and there in the corners to reproduce the look of the tintype emulsion.

You can also distress the image itself by smudging a bit of the black ink here and there. If you wish, you can add some mid-tone highlights on top of the dark areas with silver pigment ink. I did so mostly on the back of the lady’s hair.

The pigment ink may not dry to the point that it doesn’t rub off with a bit of pressure. This will depend on the kind of paper and ink you end up using. If this is the case, coat your image with a light spray of clear acrylic and let it dry and that should prevent smearing.

I completed my card by stamping Chrysanthemum in silver on black card stock, and mounting my tintype on top. The overall effect ended up very Victorian! I decided to go with it, and added a “missing you” sentiment in silver ink.

Make a Cutout Falling Leaf Frame

Frame cards are a great way to showcase something special – words of inspiration, a found object or a favorite photograph. To begin, select a piece of card stock in a color and texture that you like, and using a straight edge and bone folder, score a line that will be your fold line. Fold along the scored line, and trim your card to your desired size.

Next, on the inside of the front of your card, use a pencil to lightly trace the shape that you want your cutout window to be. For this example, I stamped Bluejay, cut out the image, positioned it where I wanted it, and then lightly traced with pencil around the edge of the image.bluejay_leaf_frame

Next, still using pencil, draw a guide for where you will cut. If you use a photograph or stamped image, you may want the window to be smaller than the photograph. If you are planning to use an object or written sentiment, you may want the window to be larger – it is up to you. I drew my guide to be slightly smaller than the stamped image.

Next, carefully cut out your window along your guideline. You can carefully cut with scissors, but if you are doing a shape with precise or straight edges it will probably be easier to use a paper trimmer.

To decorate the front (frame side) of the card, insert a piece of scrap paper inside the card to protect the inside from being stamped. Then stamp a design of your choice. I used Maple Leaf, and stamped it several times. Make overlapping images using two shades of pigment ink. I think the effect looks like falling autumn leaves!

Finally, attach your showcase image or object or write your sentiment inside the card so that it shows through the window on the front. When you open the card, the larger image is visible. And there you have it, a special gift with its own frame!

Three Ways to Impress with an Elegant Rubber Stamp

Sometimes you want to keep your treatment simple and let the beauty and elegance of a stamp image speak for itself. This beautiful Grapevine stamp image is actually ancient – it comes from a 16th century woodcut. The left-hand image below was stamped with embossing ink, and embossed with fine detail gold embossing powder. The version in the middle is stamped with sepia ink on a pale pink card stock. The image on the right is stamped with black ink on white card stock. In each case, gold paper frames the image, but you get such different looks with each one! They are all elegant, and would make lovely invitations, menu covers, or table name cards.

three_grapevines

“Stained Glass” Look with Rubber Stamps

This stained glass look is easy to achieve! You’ll need some small thin sheets of plexiglass, which is inexpensive and easily found online. (If you can’t find the size you want you can always score and break it to your desired dimensions.)

Start by making sure the sheet is clean, and wash and dry it if necessary. Stamp your images on the plexiglass with StayzOn ink and let it dry. If you make a mistake or don’t get the image just the way you want it, you can wipe off the ink with a bit of rubbing alcohol and redo it.

Next, color the other side of the sheet with alcohol-based marker. And that’s all there is to it! Now you can use it as a decorative item, or because it is plexiglass and won’t break, you could add it to a card and send it by mail.  I stamped mine with Dogwood and Fairy 4 and set it on a window ledge to catch the evening sun:

IMG_9977

Thinking of You!

This easy greeting card uses Red Currant stamped in black waterproof ink, and colored with markers. There is a wide variety of good quality art markers available today, and while they can be expensive, a card like this only requires a few colors because the stamped image does a lot of the shading for you. I used two shades of green for the leaves and two others for the berries, but you could get by just as well with a single green and dark pink. I shaded the berries with a dark sienna shade which also worked well for the woody part of the stem.

IMG_9980

If you use a single stamp image in a composition like this, it can help to add a bit of background shading to draw the viewer’s eye towards it – especially if you are using a white background as I’ve done here. To achieve a gentle shading effect, sponge a light sepia shade around the stamped image to fill in the white areas a bit. Start very light and build up the color gradually to achieve an overall evenness. I also shaded a bit in the center of the “Thinking of you Sentiment” to match the overall value of the image and greeting focal areas.

The rest of the composition is simple. pick contrasting mat and card stock that complements the colors you’ve used, trim to your desired size, and round the edges for a softer effect.

Big, Beautiful Rubber Stamps!

At Nature’s Blessings Fine Art Stamps, we love making really big, beautifully detailed rubber stamps. Our deep-etched process allows us to faithfully reproduce lots of detail in our rubber dies. And to show you, we stamp it ourselves right on the maple mount in indexing ink, so you know what you can expect in your own stamped images.

This stamp “Harvest” is one of our favorites. It comes from a 19th century book on gardening, and from the looks of it, they know their stuff! If my garden turned out half as well, I’d be very pleased. It stamps very well, and has so much going on in it that it is a joy to use as a straight stamped image, or embellished with color.
2009_topb

For a highly detailed stamp like this, it is best to use very smooth paper. Bristol can work well, but I ended up using a hot-press watercolor paper which is also very smooth. You will get the best image by starting with a clean stamp, and inking it with a rubber brayer so that your ink will be just on the surface of the stamp, rather than filling up the crevasses. Here is my stamped image:

IMG_9656

I think it is beautiful and could be used just like that! However, I wanted to color it, and make it into a special card. If you decide to do the same, you have a few options. If you stamp very light (either by using a light color of ink, or using a second impression), you will have all of the outlines you need, but will need to do a lot of the shading yourself. If you do a darker image like I have here, the stamp will do the shading for you, and you just need to be sure to preserve the highlights. Next, I colored the image with Prismacolor pencils, which allow you to layer and blend colors:

IMG_9657

As I got to coloring, I realized this is a fantasy image! What is holding all of those vegetables in place, stacked up as they are?!! But I just went with it, reveled in the abundance of it all, and colored in the shadows underneath that big cabbage and the pumpkins and the squash, leaving the magic of it all to the viewer’s interpretation.

Much of the “action” of this image happens at the plane closest to the viewer, but the image does have the suggestion of a background (the field and trees beyond). You can add a bit of depth by shading this background in lighter, cooler colors than you use to shade the foreground vegetables.

I trimmed and matted the image on a contrasting burgundy color (the same color I used to reinforce the shadows in the image), and made the base of the card out of folded, trimmed cardstock.  I like adding the element of a ribbon – the dark blue of the card and the gold ribbon suggests “First Place” at the county fair!

I applied the gold ribbon horizontally so that the viewer’s eye is encouraged to move around the image, back and forth from right to left along the horizontal line. The more the eye explores, the more interesting and enjoyable your design will be to the viewer.

IMG_9659

Lastly, to finish the card and give it a polished look, I trimmed two pieces of linen paper and tacked them into the inside top and bottom which is where a note could be written. On the bottom, I stamped Lettuce in a bright, leafy green.