Paper Stamp Sculptures

This is a pretty fun and versatile craft.  It’s easy, and you probably already have everything you need to create a bunch of these at home already.  This is also a fabulous craft to do with kids!

All you need is a collection of stamps of any kind – mounted rubber stamps, unmounted rubber stamps, acrylic stamps, foam stamps – anything you have handy!

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Plus, a spray bottle of water, and some toilet paper (the cheaper the better!)

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Lay out your stamps on a surface you don’t mind getting a bit damp.  I’m working here at my craft desk, which takes quite a beating most of the time.  If you don’t want prolonged dampness in an area, though, you’ll want to lay your stamps out on a cookie sheet, cutting board, or other waterproof surface.  Top each with a square of TP.

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Adjust your spray bottle so it is spraying out a light mist.  You are going to saturate the paper but you don’t want to flood the whole area.  Too much water and the paper disintegrates.  Spray gently til you get a feel for how it’s going.

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Once the paper is wet, use a small object such as a stylus or the end of a paintbrush – here I am using the blunt end of my craft tweezers (kept on hand for dealing with tiny stickers and the like) to tuck the paper gently around all the little grooves in your stamp.  For deeper foam stamps, the first layer of your paper may tear; that’s ok.  The holes will fill in on subsequent layers.

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Let dry partway, then add additional paper, saturate again, and tuck again into all the grooves of the stamp.  Continue until you have added at least a dozen layers.  Some end uses will want more layers, if you want a sturdier piece, and some will need fewer, for a more delicate appearance.  Be sure that each layer is well saturated with water, so that it becomes fully married to the piece below it.  Push out any air bubbles, piercing the paper if necessary (if you use cheap paper, you won’t have to!  Keep a safety pin or needle handy if you’re using pricier stuff).

At the end of the process, your pieces should look something like this:

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Allow to dry for at least 12 hours, preferably at least 24.  The more humid your environment, the longer these will take to dry.  Don’t try to hurry them with a hair dryer or the like, you’ll only ruin your stamps and cause the paper to shred and not meld together properly.  I learned this the hard way!

When the time is up, test your pieces.  Gently peel back a corner.  If the paper is completely dry, you’ll be able to feel it.  Once it is, you can unmold your paper sculptures.

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Use a sharp pair of craft scissors to trim closely around the edge of the impression.  Be sure you are using proper cutting technique; hold the scissors still and move the item you are cutting, rather than the other way around.  This is important in all kinds of craft cutting to get a clean edge.

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Now what?  Well, you have lots of options!  You can leave your design white, or use paint, markers, ink, chalk or oil pastels to add some colour.  Use themed stamps to create a mobile to hang from the ceiling.  Use seasonal stamps to make Christmas ornaments for family and friends.  Decorate calenders, place settings (you can use letter stamps to make place cards for dinners), greeting cards, scrapbooks and more.  The possibilities are endless!

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This piece was blotted with ink, then very very lightly misted with water to help the ink “spread” and give it a tie-dyed appearance. Used as a card embellishment.
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This piece was coloured with several different oil pastel crayons, then used as a scrapbooking embellishment

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