We’ve had a couple of requests for rubber stamps recently, and having been inspired by a lino printing exhibition I decided to have a think about how best to go about this.
First things first. Lino and rubber is no good for laser cutters! PVC (Poly Vinyl Chloride)/vinyl/pleather and artificial leather all emit a scary chlorine gas when cut. The internet tells me this is EXTREMELY hazardous and I must absolutely not try it! It will also corrode the metal parts of your laser cutter, ruin the motion control system AND damage the optics. So generally all round a bad idea.
However! Laser compatible rubber does exist so go for that – just make sure you’ve definitely got the right stuff first.
After all my laser engraving experiments over the summer (read about it here) I’m now a complete convert. You might occasionally see it called ‘raster etch’ or ‘etching’, but it’s all the same theory and you can use it for solid fill sections in your artwork/projects.
I thought I’d have a go at our lovely new Nice-Cuts logo first. Of course I immediately got it wrong first time, completely forgetting it would need to be mirrored in order to read correctly when stamped. With my second go I forgot I would also need a negative version of the logo (you can see that one at the bottom of the picture below). My third go came out much better (see the middle stamp below). I was pleased with the quality of the text and the border, however the dots round the edge were tricky to ink up. They didn’t always give a nice print. I decided having the fat border on the outer edge of the stamp would make it look smarter and probably much easier to print giving a nice clear outline. So third time worked best! (see the top stamp below).
If you’ve read my previous blog post about engraving, you’ll see I mention a fairly low power of 20% for MDF and plywood. I found with these stamps 60% was more appropriate. I wanted a really nice deep cut to give the best stamping results and was pleased with how at 60 the material held up really well.
So next I wanted to make some sort of caddy for the rubber cut. Inking up the thin rubber and pressing it into the paper was messy and gave an uneven pressure, but I thought an MDF backing would sort that out!
I found straight away that although one identically sized MDF square was enough to print nicely and hold the rubber firmly in place, it still wasn’t very easy to hold. No problem, Three smaller sections glued on top of each other fixed this and gave the stamp something to grip on to. As a nice touch I re-used the print design to make a label on the top layer so you can see at a quick glance which stamp is which. Don’t forget to ‘un-mirror’ and switch back to a positive engrave setting.
Thick double sided sticky tape worked perfectly for sticking the rubber to the MDF caddy. I’ve not had any trouble with the rubber peeling off in the week since experimenting. We’ve been giving them plenty of use so I’m pretty sure it’ll hold up long term. To stick the MDF stacking sections, just ordinary wood glue worked best. this dries relatively quickly so doesn’t hold you back too much when you’re keen to move on to the next part of assembly.
‘THIS BOOK BELONGS TO…’ is probably my favourite. It’s a nice size and the font came out really nicely. I had much better luck later on too when I bought a couple of new ink pads.
One observation that did come up. I cut a stamp of this cheeky bird (you might have seen him popping up before). This was the only stamp I made that didn’t have a protective border of any kind round the edge. When testing it, I was unpleased with the way the edge of the stamp always catches the paper leaving a mark. It’s a shame because otherwise this one turned out really well. Despite it being so small all the details still come out perfectly where I had expected some of it to be lost, but not at all! He’s cut perfectly. To fix this problem, I would amend the design so instead of a square containing the artwork, I’d use a roughly cut out bird shape. The edge of the stamp would be close enough to the raised part that it shouldn’t come into contact with the paper.
Is it ever to early for Christmas?