Saturday, August 2, 2008

Cutting Tools

I think when most of us start a new adventure in art we tend to get mesmerized by the tools we use or think we should use. My first carving was done with just a plain old x-acto blade. When I decided to do a cut with a gouge tool I didn't have anything except for an old cuticle cutter. It worked fine for what I was doing. Looking at the books on rubber stamps from Japan many of the people just use snap blade box cutters like you can find at a dollar store.

Here are some of the tools I use. I am always looking for new ones but it isn't so much to tool as what you do with it. X-acto type blades can be found all over the place and don't cost much and do a great job. There are any number of good holders for them. Probably my favorite flat blade is the Testors hobby knife but from what I hear they no longer make these. You can still find them in some stores in the model toy supply section. They have a really nice tip to them and hold and edge quite well.

There are a number of gouge blades out there. The most popular being the Speedball linoleum cutters. They come in various sizes. No. 1 - Liner, No. 2 - V-shaped gouge, No. 3 - Large Liner, No. 4 - U-shaped gouge, No. 5 - Large gouge, No. 6 - Knife. Most of the time you get them in a kit containing a handle and several cutters.

Another interesting product that Speedball sells are the Linozip cutters. these have the blade in a hook and one cuts by pulling the tool toward you instead of pushing it into the material as you would a gouge tool. You can see one on the far right of the second photo. These come in four sizes: No. 21 - Liner, No. 22 - V-shaped gouge, No. 23 - Large liner, No. 25 - Large gouge.

The most important thing is to use a sharp tool. It makes your cuts much better and causes less effort to cut the blocks. So look around your house and see what you have. There are a number or places to purchase gouge tools. Most local craft stores will have them and you can order them online if you are in a remote location.

Happy cutting!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Rubber Stamping in Japan

Over the past few years when I have ventured to the LA area I have tried to stop by a super Japanese bookstore in Costa Mesa (Kinokuniya Bookstores of America). There are several of these located on the West coast. They have a website but it is pretty much in Japanese. Anyway, this one is located at 3030 Harbor Blvd, Suite G3, Costa Mesa, CA 92626.

Now the books they have there are mostly in Japanese and since I don't know how to read it I just end up looking at the pictures! They have several craft sections, one of which is rubber stamping. The books you will find there are rubber stamping are just about 100% on eraser carving! I have posted some photos of several of the books I have purchased from there over the past few years. One of the books however is on carving chops, not erasers. It is a fun book anyway!

In addition to showing pictures of them carving the stamps they also have many ideas on ways to use the stamps. There are several examples of stamping on a variety of surfaces. If you live in an area that has some Japanese bookstores around you might want to just go take a look.

I really don't know how to order any of these books online but I am sure there is a way. If anyone would like the ISBN numbers of the books I would be more than happy to give them to you!

Monday, May 5, 2008

A rose by any other name....

Okay...I just have to get this out of the way. Most people call this artform "Eraser Carving" and I use that same term just because that is what most people call it. I guess it does not matter what you call it. Erasercuts would be more accurate if you think of them in terms of Linocuts or Woodcuts. Both of these are terms used for relief printing. Somewhere along the way carving came into play. Way back there in history I believe. The photos above are true eraser carvings!

I wish there was a more precise term for this printing method. Most of us no longer even use erasers to cut and print with. We use a soft polymer material. Some people have used the term soft block carving. Somehow soft block cutting just does not quite sound right. So...I think we are just going to keep that name intact over most of time. Even though it really isn't eraser carving I think that is what most of us are going to call it.

That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet...

Carve on!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

My first carving...

After going to the Rubber Stamp Gallery and purchasing my first copy of Rubberstampmadness I just had to try this. I went home and looked around on my desk and found an eraser. I grabbed an x-acto knife and a pen. I drew out an image and went to work.

I did it all wrong. Some of you may have never tried cutting stamps with a knife blade. I think the vast majority of eraser carvers use linoleum cutters and the like. I like using both. In the future I will talk more about tools but today I just want to say don't cut your stamps this way. The material under your stamp should slope away from the printing surface...not under it! This is called undercutting and it will weaken your stamp and make for a bad impression. My poor face lost its upper lip soon after it was cut. But it still stamps after 18 years!

Friday, May 2, 2008

How it all began...

A good friend of mine in Austin, TX, (Barry Miller) had recently turned me on to rubber stamping. He paid me a visit in 1990 and we set out to find a rubber stamp store in Dallas. We found The Rubber Stamp Gallery, a very fun store located at Snider Plaza close to SMU. When we were looking around I found a notebook with prints from someone who had recently been there, Henning Mittendorf. These were so amazing...and they had been hand carved! I had to know more. As luck would have it the current issue of Rubberstampmadness (RSM) was out and it included two articles featuring hand carved stamps! I purchased the issue and went home to try this new artform. Art Nahpro (Paul Jackson) had a profound impact on my life that day. He still does. You can find a lot of his prints on Flickr so check out the link I am providing to take you there. More about my experience of carving my first stamp to follow!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Getting Started

If you have been into rubber stamping for any time at all you have probably heard the term "eraser carving." I had only been doing the rubber stamping thing for a short time when I learned about it. I hope in creating this blog I might help others get to know this technique and explore their creative side!

The name of this blog is "creating light from darkness." This is a phrase I remember hearing from Barry Moser several years ago when he was giving a lecture. If you take the block, ink it and make a print it would just be dark. By cutting away at the block we remove material preventing ink from making an impression on the paper. Hence we have created light from darkness. Maybe it is silly to think of it in these terms but I kind of like that concept.

Please be patient with me as it is going to take me a while to figure this whole blogging thing out. I am sure I will be posting about other topics as well but for now this is where I will start! Enjoy!!!