I've been thinking about block printing and stamping for some time, but during the school year, it's hard to justify spending the time and money to take up such a hobby. Now that it's summer, though . . . . I read a great book about stamp carving called Art Stamping Workshop by Gloria Page and I was really inspired by the idea of using inexpensive objects to create unique prints. It took me a while to decide on a design that was interesting but simple enough for my first effort; it took me even longer to decide how to bring it to fruition. I decided to purchase black screen-printing ink and a small soft-rubber brayer to roll the ink on my stamp. Since these items were a little pricey (and I had no idea if this would even work), I decided not to buy carving supplies and a rubber block to create a stamp on. Instead, I decided on a 12" x 18" sheet of craft foam to cut my stamp shapes out of (at 99 cents apiece it's hard to go wrong) and a rectangle of corrugated cardboard to mount the foam on. I also bought clear adhesive-backed vinyl (like contact paper) to create a stencil of sorts.
I decided to make my first print on a gray, cotton t-shirt I bought at the Salvation Army. I measured the shirt and cut out an appropriately sized rectangle from the paper-backed vinyl. I drew my design on the paper backing, keeping in mind that the sections that I cut out would allow ink through (the open sections would create the printed design). Also, the drawn design is a mirror image of what will actually be printed (since the paper backing will be peeled off and the vinyl will be flipped onto the fabric). I kept my design simple, cutting out rectangles of varying heights. When my stencil was complete, I peeled the paper backing off and placed it on my clean t-shirt. I put newspapers inside the shirt to prevent the ink from bleeding through to the back layer of fabric. Once the stencil was complete, I started creating the actual stamp.