Using Your Rubber Stamps in Collage

If you enjoy collage, you will find a lot of uses for your rubber stamps. And, if you haven’t tried cardmaking yet, I highly recommend it.  You may find it is the perfect way to experiment with new techniques or showcase small art, plus when you are done, you can mail it off to a friend!

For this project, I was actually experimenting with a tiny monoprint of a hand-drawn squirrel. I wasn’t planning to use it for anything in particular but I liked how it turned out. So I let it dry, and colored it with Prismacolor pencils to the point I thought I could make something out of it. After spending the time on it, I figured, why not use it for a card?

So I dug into my craft papers, and found some “woodsy” selections – papers with lots of fibers in them that produced interesting textures. I moistened and tore the red fiber paper so it would come out with a ragged edge. Then I cut the delicate white paper in a broad strip. Trying different ways layer and position them, I found a composition that I liked. But I needed something to tie it all together to form the base of the card.

Digging in my paper stash again, I found a piece of black card stock. Folded in half, it worked well as a card base, and I liked the dark background, but it needed something to give it visual interest. So I went to my stamps, and found the perfectly “woodsy” one for my project – Pine Bough with Cones, by Nature’s Blessings.

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

I chose silver pigment ink to match the bright value of the piece of delicate white paper, and stamped the image several times around the edge of the card, layering the images and changing their angle each time so the effect would be more like a close up of a pine tree, rather than a single branch, repeated. Sometimes I stamped twice before re-inking so the second image would be lighter, and appear to be farther away.

Then I attached the three pieces of paper with spray adhesive (this worked especially well with the delicate white paper, since any thing else I had would either tear the paper, or show through its fibers). As a final touch, I cut a piece of thick jute twine, tied it into a bow, and pulled the plied fibers apart and teased them a bit to soften their appearance. A little dab of E6000 adhesive tacked it down.

And here is the finished project, which started off as an experimental doodle!

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps


Combining Your Rubber Stamps to Make Scenes

Rubber Stamps can be combined in all kinds of ways to create new scenes. You can use entire stamps, or just parts of them by selectively inking the lines you want with a felt tip pen. By using the simple masking technique (described in this previous post), you can make some images appear to be in the foreground, and some in the background. You can play with size and perspective. What story will you tell with your stamps?

Here is one of mine — I used several stamps: Butterfly, Night Sky (just the clouds, repeating the image), Downy Woodpecker, Girl Catching Snowflakes (just the girl), and Anemone.  The scene is colored with Prismacolor Pencils, and I drew in a horizon line for depth.  Many of the images are intentionally cropped at the edge of the paper, to give the sense of a larger scene contained by the frame of the paper’s edge.

Can you figure out what order I stamped them in?

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

Follow Your Own Dream Butterfly

Answer? The order is: Girl, Night Sky, Butterfly, Anemone, Woodpecker (but the order really only matters for those items that overlap).

Many thanks for the caption, Arwa!

Frame Pendants and Finding Elements in Your Stamps

Part of the fun of having detailed rubber stamps is finding parts of them that can be used in other projects. Once you start to look at your stamps this way, you will find lots of possibilities for using them in ways that are different from the whole image or scene you are presented with on the stamp. It is like having 10 stamps in one! You’ll find new ways to use them, or combine them into scenes that no one has thought of before. It is part of the creativity you bring to your rubber stamp art.

For this project, I’ll be making a frame pendant for a necklace, and I need a very small image. I decided to use Children Feeding Squirrels from Nature’s Blessings Fine Art Stamps, and selected just one small part of it for my project — the squirrel facing front in the lower right-hand side of the image.

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Below is a close up of the part I want to use. I stamped and watercolored just this part of the image, and trimmed it closely using a small pair of very sharp scissors.

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You can easily find frame pendants online in lots of different styles, or in jewelry-making supply stores. The pendant I have is particularly deep, so I can make a tiny 3D scene within it. To start, I created a background with red and blue metallic paper and glued this to the bottom of the frame. Then I raised the squirrel up off of the surface of the pendant about 2 millimeters using a small piece of double-sided adhesive foam (Mini Pop Dots work well for this). Lastly I added a small gold star for the squirrel to hold (a quirky design that reminded me of a meme, but you can do whatever you like).

Then, using 3D Crystal Lacquer, I filled in first the area around the edge of the frame, and then worked my way slowly towards the center, allowing the lacquer to fill in beneath the squirrel. 3D Crystal Lacquer is very thick and viscous and fills in slowly. Avoid shaking the bottle before you apply it as this will create lots of bubbles. As it is, it is hard to avoid some tiny bubbles, but using a pin, you can work them to the edge of your piece, or pop them as they rise to the surface. The lacquer sets in a few minutes, and will settle a bit as it dries, so be sure to fill in with additional layers. I used 3-4 layers of lacquer to build up a thick surface that filled in the pendant, which hardened to the touch within about 24 hours.

Here is the result!


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Altered Mint Tins Make Great Gifts!

I wouldn’t call making an altered tin a quick project, but it is one that can be easily done in an afternoon. It is tremendously rewarding both for how creatively versatile it is, as well as that the end result makes a great gift.

Tins and boxes of all shapes, sizes and materials can be covered or “altered” this way. For my project, I chose a breath mint tin so that the finished project would be small and portable. I started by coloring the top of the tin around the edge with a black permanent marker to hide the branded design printed on the tin itself.

For the stamped image, I chose Little Red Riding Hood by Nature’s Blessings Fine Art Stamps, which I masked and then over stamped with Pond 2 to surround the character with a bit of scenery. I then colored the entire image with Prismacolor Pencils, and trimmed the corners. Next, I pressed the edges of the stamped image onto a pad of embossing ink, dipped them in gold embossing powder, and heated them to give the image a gold-trimmed edge.

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps


Then using a decoupage adhesive / sealer like Mod Podge, I trimmed and glued a patterned background paper on the top of the tin. In a few minutes when it was dry to the touch, I added the white trimmed paper to frame the stamped image. Lastly I glued on my stamped image.  When all layers were dry, I covered them all with a thin layer of the sealer. I let the sealer dry, then applied about three additional layers, allowing each to dry in-between coats.  The sealer dries transparent, giving the surface a matte sheen, and protecting the layers from being easily peeled or chipped off.

Finally, I embellished the top with a bit of black gold-edged ribbon, and added a jewelry finding on top. both were glued with E6000 craft adhesive. I also trimmed the edge of the tin with a narrower band of black ribbon, that also had a gold metallic edge.

The rest of the tin can be finished or not as you choose.  You could also decoupage the inside of the tin as well as the bottom, using the same technique as you used for the top. For a finishing touch, I decided to line the inside of the tin with parchment, and to add a black matte paper on the bottom of the tin.

Next comes the fun of deciding what should go inside the tin. I noticed that my Windsor & Newton watercolor pans all fit neatly inside, and that by adding a plastic tray, pencil, brush (cut down to size), and small pieces of watercolor paper trimmed to fit, I had a small super-portable watercolor set!


It is much lighter and compact than the watercolor pans are in their original field box, which makes this version much more portable, great for “stealth” painting – just open up your tin outdoors or in a cafe, and you are set to paint. Then when you are done, pack up your supplies in the tin, pop it into your pocket or purse, and off you go!

If you make this project as a gift, there are all kinds of things you could pack inside. Here are some ideas: a few fancy tea bags, a small sewing kit, a pocket-sized first-aid kit, a small puzzle, a handmade necklace or earrings, a deck of cards, an assortment of hair accessories, or even breath mints! Have fun, and let your creativity go free!

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

DIY Leather-look Pendant with Rubber Stamps

For this project, we’ll be making a necklace pendant that looks like hand-tooled leather, but isn’t! And the best part is you can design it to feature your favorite stamp. The one I’ve chosen is Peony by Nature’s Blessings Fine Art Stamps.

Begin with a small piece of beige craft foam, about 3 mm thick. You can easily find craft foam at most big craft supply stores, usually in the kids section. Look for something that has a leather-like color. I’ve used gray, beige, and brown, all with good results.  Begin by cutting a small circle of from your piece of craft foam. Then take a piece of 220-grit sandpaper, and rough up the edges and surface a bit to make it look distressed, and more like a worn piece of leather.

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

Next, heat the circle of foam with your embossing heat gun for a few seconds until the edges start to curl.  Then using a fine-detail black ink, stamp down in the surface of the foam. It will leave an imprint of the ink, and the depression will remain in the surface even after the foam has cooled.  At this point, spray your pendant with workable fixative so that the ink doesn’t smear. When it dries, make a small hole at the top using a punch.

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Next, color your image using a combination of Pearl Ex powders, mixed with a little water and gum arabic to form a paste (the gum arabic acts as a binder and will help the Pearl Ex powders adhere to the surface). Apply the colors to the top surface of the pendant using a cotton swab. I used #655 Super Copper for the background, and #658 Aztec Gold to highlight the petals. Avoid getting the powder on the black ink so you maintain the contrast and definition of your image. When you are done coloring the image, spray it with a matte acrylic final fixative to set the image and powders.

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At this point, you have lots of options for how to finish the pendant. I chose to add a red eyelet. To do this, you’ll need an eyelet-setting tool and a hammer and setting pad. It is very easy to use, just thread the eyelet through the hole, insert the stylus into the open end of the eyelet and strike the end of the stylus with the hammer to set it. It will now grip the edge of the foam, and provide a more secure means of hanging the pendant.

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Lastly, thread a jump ring through the eyelet, and your pendant is complete!

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

Mother’s Day is May 10! Make a Card for Mom

Mother’s Day is coming up! Here is a card you can make and give mom from the Nature’s Blessings “quick card” department (they don’t call us Sonic Stampers for nothing!). When you don’t have a lot of time, I find you can usually make a great card by using a single stamp as a focal image.

For my focal image, I chose Lily of the Valley by Nature’s Blessings Fine Art Stamps. Lily of the valley (also known as muguet) is a flower with a sweet heady fragrance. Its flowers are shaped like a cascade of tiny bells. It blooms right around Mother’s Day in the Northern Hemisphere (second Sunday in May), and is seen as a sign of spring. It is often used in spring weddings.

To start with, you’ll want to dig into your stash of papers and embellishments. Layers of art paper trimmed to size, in contrasting colors and textures, will add interest and do a lot of the design work for you. Start by stamping and coloring your focal image. This will help you decide what kinds of papers you want to use.

I stamped Lily of the Valley in a light gray, and then colored it with Prismacolor Pencils, which layer and blend together beautifully. It came out soft and delicate, so I chose pink contrasting paper to go with it, along with a sheet of decorative paper lace.

I wrote “Mother” in pink pencil, and for a finishing touch, embossed the bells of the lily and the word “Mother” with pearlescent embossing powder. A touch of glitter for a bit of sparkle would have worked well too.

And here it is!  Happy Mother’s Day!

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

3 Easy Ombré Techniques with Rubber Stamps

Ombré, where one color gradually fades or transitions to another color, is very popular right now in beauty, fashion and decorative arts. The ombré look is also very easy to achieve with your rubber stamps, and I’ll show you several techniques here. The easiest technique is simply to stamp your image multiple times without re-inking the stamp.  The image will fade a bit with each impression, as shown here using Nature’s Blessings Fine Art Stamps Butterfly:

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

Another technique uses a brayer and piece of linoleum to achieve an ombré background.  Take a rubber stamp pad (I find that a pigment pad works best for this) and press it several times onto the linoleum so that you have plenty of pigment to work with. Keep the pigment to one half of the linoleum surface.  Then, take your brayer and roll it over the linoleum so that you coat just one half of it. Make sure you have good coverage all around the circumference of the brayer, and that the coverage is even.

Now, position the brayer just off the edge of your card so the edge of the brayer won’t leave an obvious line on it. Run the brayer back and forth, slowly working your towards the center of the paper so that the amount of pigment transferred to the paper is gradually reduced. You may need to practice a bit to achieve this evenness. I find that moving fully across the card each time, and picking up your brayer after each movement keeps the brayer rolling, reducing lines or other artifacts.

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps


Now you can use it as a background. Here I’ve made it into a card by stamping an image onto it, using the same color ink I rolled onto the card with the brayer. The stamp image is Peony by Nature’s Blessings Fine Art Stamps.

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

The third technique also uses the brayer and the linoleum. This time you will add two colors, one on each side of the linoleum. Run the brayer across the surface of the linoleum, blending the two colors a bit in the middle. Next, using the brayer with the two colors on it, ink a stamp. I’m using the Peony stamp again here. Try not to move the brayer from side to side, just back and forth across the stamp from top to bottom. This way the blended colors will be transferred to the rubber surface of the stamp, just as you put them on your brayer.

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

Now turn the stamp over, and press it onto the surface of your project. I decided to use silver card stock, since it has a light sheen and medium value, and really showcases the ombré image. I think it would make a beautiful wedding invitation!

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

Fun with Shrink Plastic and the Mirror Image Trick

Shrink plastic, or “Shrinky Dinks” is one of those indelible memories of childhood, like Play-Doh or Crayola Crayons. Here is a chance to relive your youth and have fun with your rubber stamps at the same time!  Rubber stamping works very well with shrink plastic, and once you get the knack of it you can create all kinds of embellishments for your art projects. For this one, we’ll be making a pair of earrings, and learning a nifty trick for making mirror images that you can use in lots of different stamping projects.

Here is a look at the materials we will be using…

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

Most of the supplies you’ll need are common tools in rubber stamping. The special items are the shrink plastic and clear linoleum, but they can be easily found online:

Start by cutting out two pieces of shrink plastic, in about the size of the stamp you want to use. For my project, I’m using Morel Mushroom by Nature’s Blessings Fine Art Stamps, because I know my friend likes this stamp and I want to make her a gift. For a first project with shrink plastic, I like using the clear frosted kind but it comes in other colors too. You can get great results with black or white, for instance.

Start by taking the fine grit sand paper and gently rough up one side of the shrink plastic. This is the side you will stamp on.

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

If you were making a necklace pendant, you might need only one image. However I want to make earrings, so I will want to make two images. Also, I want them to be mirror images of each other.  This is where your clear linoleum comes in. You will be stamping the clear linoleum, and using this to transfer the mirror image to one piece of shrink plastic.

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

When you use this mirror image transfer trick, the stamped image that you transfer will end up being a bit lighter than if you stamped it directly on the surface of the plastic. So in order to get the images to come out about the same you will want to follow this sequence:

  1. Stamp the image on the linoleum;
  2. Without cleaning or re-inking your stamp, stamp it again directly on one piece of shrink plastic;
  3. Put the other piece of clear plastic, sanded side down on the linoleum, and rub the back of the sheet to transfer the image to it.

So here are steps (1) and (2). Both images are the same:

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

Now place the other sheet of shrink plastic, rough side down, on the clear linoleum. Hold it in place with one hand, and with the other, rub the back surface to make sure the ink transfers well to the shrink plastic. By using the clear-colored plastic, you can see when it transfers!

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

Then carefully lift the shrink plastic with the transferred image off the linoleum.  Now you have mirror image stamped images! If you are using a Colorbox pigment pad, you can now wash off your linoleum with water, and it will be clean.  If you’ve used another kind of ink you can try a little rubbing alcohol to remove it.  It may leave a bit of a trace (you can see mine has a bit of a blue stain from a previous project), but you can use your linoleum again without worry of the ink getting on your new project.

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

Now, using a sharp pair of scissors, you’ll want to cut out your image on the shrink plastic, leaving a bit of a margin but keeping it close to the image. Leave a bit of extra room at the top so you can punch a hole. Use a 1/8 inch hole punch for best results.

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

After you cut out the images and punch holes at the top, you are ready to start shrinking. Put your cut out image on a heat resistant surface (I like to use a paving stone). Turn on your heat tool and aim it at the shrink plastic.  Move it around, rather than holding it in one place so the piece heats as evenly as possible.  It will start to buckle and curl. You can use the point of your scissors to hold it in place until it shrinks to keep it from rolling around.

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

When your shrink plastic is reduced in size, and still warm, flip it over ink-side down, and flatten it with your acrylic block.  It wont stick to either the stone or the acrylic.  Do the same with the other shrink plastic image.

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

Now we have two tiny versions of our stamp image that are mirror-image versions of each other!

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

If you like, you can coat your shrunken plastic images with clear embossing ink and ultra thick embossing powder. I find this helps keep the pigment from smearing. Use your heat tool, and apply several layers to give the pieces a glossy finish. You may need to take a pin and carefully push out any embossing powder that has melted into the hole at the top. In a minute or so when the embossing powder has cooled and hardened they are ready to be made into earrings.

The easiest way to make them into earrings is to attach a pair of earring wires directly to the top of the shrink plastic pieces. I ended up making them a little fancier, and added a jump ring, along with three wire-wrapped beads.  Here is the finished project – I gave them to my friend and she’s modeling them here!

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

Easy 3-D Papercraft – Make Your Stamped Images Pop!

This is an easy technique that requires no special tools to get the basic 3-D effect. The technique comes from the craft of “paper tole”, which if you get into it as an art form does use special tools. However, we are going to simplify the paper tole techniques here, and use only common tools (including our hands!) and I think you still get a great effect.

The basic idea is you start with several copies of the same image, and then selectively cut out pieces of them and build them up in layers so that some parts appear to be more in the foreground, and others recede into the background. Paper tole often uses highly detailed prints for 3-D projects.  But since it is easy to make multiple copies of a single image with a stamp, rubber stamps are great for 3-D papercraft!

In this example, I will use Lady Strolling from the Nature’s Blessings Fine Art Stamps collection as my subject. You can stamp with any color and kind of ink you like, but I plan to watercolor my images so I’m going to use a VersaFine Stamp Pad in Onyx Black (an oil-based ink that dries very quickly). I’ll use a rubber brayer to get the best coverage, and I’ll stamp on bright white bristol paper to get a highly detailed image.

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

The first step is to stamp the image twice. One image will be the base image that will remain intact. The other one we are going to cut into many pieces so that we can build up our 3-D layers on top of the base image.

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

Next, color your images using whatever medium you like. I’m going to use Windsor and Newton watercolors.

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

Color both images about the same. They don’t have to match perfectly.  I gave the image on the right a bit more contrast and saturation because I plan to use it for my foreground layers. I have my finished use in mind, so I also painted the figure as if she had warm light coming down on her from above.  But again, do what you like and what best suits your project.

Nature's Blessings Fine Art StampsNext comes is the especially fun part…it’s a bit like making and then solving a puzzle. Imagine what parts of the image should be in the foreground, closer to the viewer and which parts should be in the background.  You will want to cut out each of those parts, so you can layer them dimensionally. Now, leave one of your images intact, but take the other one and cut it up! You can use an exacto knife and cutting board, or a small sharp pair of scissors. I used scissors.  Be patient and cut out all of the detail in the edges of each shape as best as you can.

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Next, group the pieces that you cut out, starting with those parts furthest in the background (furthest from the viewer) and working towards the foreground (closest to the viewer). The first background image will be the fully intact one, and it will also be your base for layering. I’ve made five groups.
Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

To raise each of the layers, I’m going to be using a product called Mini Pop Dots by All Night Media.  These are small pre-cut circles of foam with adhesive on both sides. You can use commercial double-sized foam tape too, but you’ll need to cut out the pieces. Look for a product that is about 2 mm thick.

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

Now here is where you need your best tools…your own hands!  Take one of the cut pieces, lay it colored-side down on your palm.  Now with the flat part of one of your fingernails on the opposite hand, press down on the paper, rubbing your nail from the center of the piece towards the edge.  You are sculpting the paper into a convex shape. Run your fingernail along the edges too, to shape and curl them a bit. Now you can turn it over and bend it a bit into the final shape you like. You will do this with each cut out piece.

Nature's Blessings Fine Art StampsAs a finishing step, run a black Sharpie around the edge of each cut out image. This will help hide the white edges of the paper. For the first layer, you will use a single layer of pop dots. You can use a single dot in the center of small pieces, or even cut them in half for the really small pieces. For larger pieces you will want to use several dots to provide more support – again you are using just a single layer of dots for now. In my first layer I’m using one pop dot for the bodice of the dress, and two for the skirt.

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

For the additional layers, you will take the same steps, except you will add more layers of pop dots. This will build the dots into columns that will “scaffold” each successive layer to be higher than the next.  Here I’ve worked my way up to the third group that includes the draping on the skirt of the dress. The third group has columns of 2 pop dots beneath it. The next group will have columns of 3 pop dots, and so on.

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

Now I’ve built up all five layers. The final layer, which includes the bustle of the skirt, has columns of four pop dots underneath it! The way the scaffolding works in traditional paper tole, you insert additional cut out pieces between each level that you raise…the way I’m showing you here is much easier, and much faster, and achieves close to the same effect.

Nature's Blessings Fine Art StampsNow here is our finished 3-D lady. I’ve chosen to have her admiring a work by one of our heroes the great Vincent Van Gogh. The 3-D technique is very versatile, and can be used for a single element in a scene as I’ve done here, or you could use it to make an entire 3-D scene. It’s a great technique to have in your repertoire!

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

How We Made Our Stamped Header Image Art

To start out, I thought it would be fun to use several of Nature’s Blessings rubber stamps in our header image artwork. This way, I have the opportunity to  show you what kind of impression our stamps make, and I can also demonstrate some basic stamping techniques. These techniques are very easy and great to have in your repertoire, because they create a sophisticated look to your finished pieces even if you just have a few rubber stamps and ink pads, and don’t have a lot of other special tools.

First, I selected the stamps I wanted to use. For this piece I’m using several of Nature’s Blessings stamps: Butterfly, Peony, Dogwood, and Junco (a small North American bird).  I decided to stamp on bristol paper because it is very smooth, and the images will have a good contrast against the bright white paper, but for your own project you can use whatever variety of paper suits you.  I taped the paper to my table using a bit of masking tape on each corner, and marked off with a ruler and pencil the size of the header image (21 x 4 inches).  With these finished dimensions, I’ll have a bit of wiggle room if I decide to crop the image a bit when I start working with it digitally.

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

For ink, I decided to use Colorbox Petal Point in Beach Ball for all of the stamped images.  I say “ink” but these are actually pigment paint pads rather than ink.  They aren’t waterproof, but have great detail and intensity, and can be heat set to speed drying and to keep them from smearing. Each colored “petal” can be slid out of the container so you can ink stamps with a single color.  You can also use the point or edges to ink just a part of a larger stamp that you are interested in (we’ll be using this technique in a moment). To begin, I’ve decided to ink the Dogwood stamp with the magenta color.  On the left-hand edge I’ve stamped it in one direction, and then rotated the stamp, re-inked it and stamped it on the right-hand side.

Nature's Blessings Rubber Art Stamps

A note as to inking stamps: especially with high-detail, deep-etched stamps like Nature’s Blessings Fine Art Stamps, you’ll want to avoid pressing the paint pad into the stamp because the paint will fill up the crevasses in the rubber and then you will lose detail when you go to make a stamped impression. Rather, pat the pad gently against the stamp surface to get good coverage, and finish by stroking the pad gently across the top surface to make sure the paint coverage is even. This way the paint will get applied to just the top surface of the rubber image, and you will get the best, most detailed impression. Turn the inked stamp over, hold it above the paper in the position it where you want it, and then press down using light, but firm pressure. Avoid rocking the stamp or pressing too hard on it, as this will bend the rubber detail, and you may get muddled lines, or extra lines that you did not intend. A bit of practice on a spare sheet of paper will give you a sense of how this works.

Next, I inked the Butterfly and Junco stamps in dark blue. I stamped the Butterfly on the left side, and the Junco in the lower right hand side. Already, with these few impressions, there is a kind of symmetry and harmoniousness between the two sides of the piece in terms of stamp placement as well as color.

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

The next step requires a technique called masking. This technique is really very simple. Stamp an image of what you want to mask on a scrap piece of paper. Let the image dry, and then cut it out, staying just inside of the border of the image (the reason why you stay inside the border will become apparent in a moment). Also, if there are any fine details it is okay to cut them out, so in the case of the Butterfly I cut off the antennae. It is a bit time consuming to do all of this, but if you keep your masks you can use them over and over. I stamped and cut out three masks, one each of the Butterfly, Dogwood and Junco.

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

The reason I need these masks is I want to stamp over these images with leaves, to fill in the space between them, and to make it look like a nature scene with greenery, flowers and animal and insect life. For this project, I’ll be protecting all of the images I’ve stamped so far with masks, so that I can stamp over them with images of leaves and greenery. This way, the Butterfly will appear to be in front of the leaves, and the Junco will look like it is sitting on the branches.

Now rather than looking for a special leaf stamp, I’m going to use just the leaf part of another Peony flower stamp I have. Using the darker green color in my paint box, I’m going to ink just the leaf part of that stamp, using the edge of the petal point to isolate just the detail in the rubber that I’m interested in.

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

Now I’m ready to use the masks that I made. I’ll start by attaching a small piece of tape to each mask, and then I’ll stick the mask down on top of the stamped image I want to protect. Now I’ll be able to stamp over it in another color, and the mask will allow that color to go up to the edge of the stamped image, but not cover it. This will give the visual effect that the masked image is to the foreground of whatever image I decide to stamp over it.

Now here is why you want to cut out your mask on the inside of the stamped border so that it is a bit smaller than the stamped image. When you stamp over it, you don’t want a gap between the mask and the image you stamp on top of it.  You can see here that I did a pretty good job with the Dogwood mask, but my Butterfly has a bit of a gap on the lower right-hand side where the leaf image didn’t go all the way up to the edge of the Butterfly image. Not to worry, we can fix this up later, but having a slightly smaller mask may have prevented the problem in the first place.

Nature's Blessings Rubber Art Stamps

Note that here I’ve applied the green Peony leaf several times, re-inking each time to get a dark impression. I’ve also rotated the image a bit each time to avoid an obvious repetition. The viewer’s eye will do the rest and just see the overall effect of “greenery.” I also don’t care that I’m stamping outside the lines that I’ve drawn in pencil. These lines are just a guide. I will end up cropping this image digitally. You can use the same technique and crop your piece by cutting it out along your guide lines after you’ve finished stamping it, or by framing it with a mat.

Another technique to try is to stamp an image a few times before re-inking. This way, you get varying degrees of intensity in your stamped image, and that will give your piece interest and dimensionality. I used this technique by stamping the Peony leaf using the grey color in the Color Box (cleaning my stamp of the green ink first). I’ve stamped the image several times, working around the edges and extending this lighter contrasting color towards the center of the piece.

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

Next I’ll do the same on the right side, masking the Junco and Dogwood, and stamping the leaves in dark green and then grey, again extending the grey leaves towards the center of the piece.

I’ll finish by inking my sponge dauber with the grey Color Box color, and then I’ll gently pat it around the edges of the inked areas of my piece to shade them in. This will also fill in any spots that might need a bit of camouflage, like the gap underneath the Butterfly wing I created when I stamped over the mask. Tap very lightly with the dauber, adding color very gradually. You can always add more color, but you can’t remove it, so go slowly. I’ve also added a bit of pink to the petals of the Dogwood. Experiment and see what suits you best.

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

Note I’m using a commercial sponge dauber here. The sponge is very fine, without an obvious pattern, and the applicator fits over the end of your finger for easy use.  You could also try using various kinds of applicators you might have around the house like cosmetic or household sponges. Practice on scrap paper so you know what the dauber pattern will be like before you use it on your finished piece.  Also make sure to rinse and dry your applicator before changing colors.

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

And voilà, the finished piece, ready to be made into our website header image!  As you can see, just a few stamps and easy techniques, and you have a lovely finished piece.

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps