Last week, Chelsea kicked off our PAPER topic by showing us how beautiful embossing can be. This week, I personally wanted to explore creating a custom design on a massive piece of yummy paper! When it was my turn to decide what to make, my mind instantly went to a few pieces of watercolor paper I have been saving since college. They are thick, textured, heavy, & screaming to be turned into something special. This seemed to be the perfect occasion.

I used to be really into carving my own rubber stamps so I decided to resurrect my tools & dive back in. I was inspired by Yellow Owl Workshop, a wonderful San Francisco based co. that is all about hand-carving! They actually have a great how-to video right here if you plan to try this and need more visual help.

So where to start? Well since our current topic is about paper, lets start there! I used a paper called Arches – you can easily find this at stores like Blicks or Michaels. It is deemed watercolor paper but is also known to be used for drawing, calligraphy, gouache, printmaking, acrylics, and even digital printing! You have a few choices if you plan to work with this specific paper – you can go with hot press, cold press, or rough! Hot is smooth, Cold is moderately textured, and rough is extra well, rough. I went with cold press, pictured below.

The next step was to draw out my pattern and start carving. This is super simple. All you have to do is draw your design on a piece of paper with a pencil. Then transfer it over to the carving block by rubbing it with your hand. I used the Speedball Linoleum Cutters & Carve Block. Or you can just buy it all in one kit. Once you’re done carving, its time to start stamping. I’m telling you – this project couldn’t be more fun and easy.

The obvious choice would be to use an ink pad for your impressions – mine was running low so the marks were extra faint. I had invisioned this piece being very black so I decided to experiment with using acrylic paint. I just brushed a light layer of paint and voila, it looked great. I obviously did a ton of tests before I started the real deal. Note – always do a test run, always.

The rest was smooth sailing – paint, stamp, repeat! It takes a while but hey, it was totally worth it. I experimented with leaving areas blank and turning the triangle different directions – this allowed the lines to play off each other and create interesting effects. Once I was done, I framed it in a simple silver ikea frame. I was going to hang it up in my new office but it ended up coming home with me. I hope you guys give this a go – there is nothing like a new piece of artwork to freshen things up. If you do make one, Chelsea & I would love to see & hear from you! Happy stamping + paper loving! Also, thank you Loren Crosier for taking some of the photographs.