Why I Carve Rubber Stamps

Some of my hand-carved stamps
Some of my hand-carved stamps

I admit it… I’m a craft dilettante!

I was, several years ago, trying to integrate my rubber stamping hobby into my textile art. I loved the depth it gave backgrounds, and being able to use the stamps themselves as designs to stitch.

Then I ran into a problem. I had too many pieces to keep for myself, and, frankly, I didn’t just want to give them away to relatives and friends who might or might not appreciate them. (I have been asked on occasion, why would you want to do that by hand when a machine is so much faster? !) So it would be nice to sell some of my art.

Unfortunately for the situation, though not in the long run, copyright law applies to stamp designs (and needlework patterns, and designs in books, and coloring books… and a lot more, too!) You might think this is silly, since stamps are tools to make art, but how you are licensed and allowed to use the images you stamp varies by company to company. My stamp collection sometimes doesn’t specify company any more. Many of the stamps I have date from before I went looking for “angel” companies who allow you to sell your hand-stamped work. Even angel companies have different policies regarding how or whether you notify them. Prints of artwork created are generally not allowed, although this can be negotiable.  I didn’t want to have to go to the bother of tracking down the specific policy of each and every stamp I owned, and then keeping all the paperwork needed to prove I was in compliance – and what if I made art that just came out so cool that I thought notecards made from it as prints would be neat? Out of luck.

I decided that the easiest thing for me, was just not to use commercial stamps at all any more. Enter learning to carve my own (which has, in turn, led to woodcarving as an actual hobby {I didn’t think I was capable of hobbies any more!})… Did I ever mention that I play with WAAAY too many crafts? Maybe this blog should be Craft Dilettante! instead of Stitching with a Shimmy!

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One Response to Why I Carve Rubber Stamps

  1. I know exactly what you mean. I actually feel that way about most things–if I can’t freely use it for my own ends I’d just as soon start from scratch and own it all, free and clear.

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