Last year, Julie Fei-Fan Balzer hosted Carve December on Instagram - where you carve a new stamp every day in December. I really loved seeing what everyone was doing and wanted to participate, but I just couldn't do it at that point. I crossed my fingers that it would happen again this year, and it did! This time I was all ready with plenty of rubber, and some fun new carving tools as well!
Here are the stamps I've carved so far this month... I'm actually pretty impressed that I've only missed one day!
This one is one of my favorites... I love birds, and cardinals in particular as they remind me of family, Christmas, and home.
The next two have specific inspiration... the one on the left is inspired by an old Asian traditional pattern I found on Archive.org, and the one on the right is inspired by some cool kitchen tile I saw online.
This one was inspired by a line from "O Little Town of Bethlehem" that was quoted in a Christmas Devotional that I watched that evening. "Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light..." I knew I had to do something about light and Christmas, so there you go!
Next up, this is inspired by a very cool iron window grate on the building across the street from my office. The grate just stacks the pattern like the top of my sample card, but I also really like it turned around.
This one was inspired by a gorgeous piece of architectural scrap I found online that I couldn't justify buying. This is the next best thing, right? I really just liked the pattern anyway. This is close enough for me :)
Just a random quarter-repeat pattern... I always love these.
The next one came from my vow to try something quick and simple. It was originally inspired by a Maltese cross but I kind of screwed it up resulting in these funky spikes. I asked on Instagram and Facebook if I should carve out the spikes, but the consensus was to keep them. I'm thinking I will, and if I really want one sans spikes, I can carve a new one!
This one was inspired by some cool vintage metal findings I saw online that I really liked... fairly simple, but I loved the result!
Another one initially inspired by a vintage finding (but didn't look much like it in the end!) It wasn't intended to make a pattern, but I think I'll probably mostly use it this way.
Next up, I've been using the lotus image fairly frequently, so I thought I needed a stamp! I love this one...
And finally, the last stamp of this first batch - very heavily inspired by the gorgeous illustrations in Lost Ocean - a beautiful adult coloring book I just picked up. I really love jellyfish (in tanks - not while I'm in the ocean!) and this is a motif I use from time to time, so it had to happen.
That's it for the stamps! Since I've gotten so many questions on Instagram and Facebook about the tools that you see in my pictures, as well as the rubber I'm using, I thought I'd just put that here as well.
I started with Speedball carving tools and Speedy Carve rubber, and I do still use those from time to time. Nothing wrong with any of them, but not long after I started carving, I wanted some tools that were a bit different - smaller blades, different shaped tips... I ran across this Flexcut Relief Printmaking Carving set and picked that up.
I really liked that a lot, and then when I experimented with different types of rubber and used Moo Carve for the first time with these tools, I really fell in love with them. Of course, then I wanted to expand a bit, and I found this Flexcut Micro-Palm Set. They're not cheap, and they're actually intended for wood carving, but I thought I'd give it a try.
I absolutely love these... you need a strop to keep them sharpened (I use the one that came with my printmaking set.) They're sharp, so you need to be careful. I've developed a preference for Moo Carve, and I think they work best with that, although they do work fine on Speedy Carve as well. I just feel like that rubber pushes back at me a bit. A lot of people really dislike Moo Carve because it's crumbly. I like it for that reason - I think it's easy to get details, and the rubber is unforgiving - one stray cut and you can ruin your design, but it doesn't fight me the same way. I still use both, but I just thought I'd share since I get lots of questions about it.
Just a quick reminder... if you haven't yet checked out Creative JumpStart 2016, what are you waiting for? The introductory coupon has expired, but you still get $5 off registration through the end of the year. I hope to see you there!