Tuesday, November 3, 2009

If at first you don't succeed..do it a different way!

So..several months ago I purchased a stamp-making kit. It allows you to make clear acrylic stamps using photopolymer and a negative of your artwork. It sounded so simple. You just photograph the artwork, then use the computer to "flip" it to make a negative image. You then print that with a laserjet onto a transparent sheet. Then you use damming tape around the image, pour the photopolymer over it, expose it to uv light and poof! acrylic stamp.
Well...turns out it's not so simple. Is anything? First, the dark areas of your image have to be totally black or the stamp won't develop. When you print on a transparency it just doesn't come out totally black. So someone suggested making two copies and laying them over each other. I guess a lot of polymer stamp makers do that. I tried, it didn't work. After many frustrating, gooey attemps, I gave up.
So today I was looking at my long carving list and thinking once again that I really need to find a way to offer manufactured versions of my stamps. I mentioned it on Facebook and one of my friends said I should make a mold and melt down my carving material and pour it into the mold.
This got me thinking. I don't think the carving material I use will melt...but what about making a mold and using the photopolymer? So I did! I took polymer clay, pressed one of my stamps into it, baked it - mold! Then I poured the polymer into the mold and let it "bake" under the uv light. And lo and behold, a polymer stamp was born! I'll definitely have to tweak the process a bit, improve the quality of the mold. This first stamp is not perfect, but it's a polymer stamp. Above is a picture of the original stamp, the polymer clay mold, the polymer stamp (which is actually clear but is backed with a red rubber cushion and mounted on wood), and an impression made with it.
I'm not sure how practical this method is..but really, once I got the molds made, it wouldn't take long to produce the stamps. Much less time than it takes to carve them. I don't want to give up carving entirely, but it'd be nice to be able to offer a less-expensive choice in my shop, and be able to make it quickly!
That said, I still have a long carving list and spent most of my day messing with this polymer process, so I better get to work!


K.C. said...

What a great idea for your more-popular stamps! I'm glad your figured out a way to do this well. I worked for a long time on a mold of a "sugar skull" (not kidding) and they just didn't work so great with clay.

You go girl!

Candice said...

I have wanted to buy one of those kits, good to know it's not as simple as it seems. This seems like a good idea too. I'd love to be able to do the same, especially now that PZ Kut has been out of stock for about 4 months! Getting scared...

sugarskull said...

I actually decided the mold method for polymer stamps isn't a good way to go. Too hard to get the mold just right. I have finally mastered my polymer machine, though, so if you purchase one, let me know! In fact, if you get one from martronics, let me know because I get some sort of kickback! Hehe. I know, the PZKut shortage is killing me too..I've been using the pink stuff. :(

About Me

Hippieville, CA, United States
This is the story of life after losing the "real" job and the house, trying to find the middle ground between making a living and actually living.