art journal tricks, DIY

DIY craft foam stamps

DIY craft foam stamps

I drew the design onto a thin sheet of craft foam, using a pink Sharpie marker. Then, using a combination of scalpel (X-acto knife) and small, sharp scissors, I cut the design out. Patience and very sharp new blades made this part easier. Floating bits, like the flowers inside the paisley shapes, weren’t a problem, because all the loose elements got glued to a rigid base, later on.

homemade foam stamps

I cut a piece of MDF to size, sprayed it with a permanent adhesive (90 High Strength Adhesive, by 3M, in this case) and stuck the foam shapes down. I let the adhesive dry for a couple of hours, and by then I was dying to use my new stamp…

For printing with foam, I like to brush acrylic paints (plus a few drops of retarder, but hardly any water…a damp brush is pretty much all the water that gets into the paint) onto a second piece of foam (I’ve got thicker foam for this…I use those smooth foam camping or yoga mats) and press my stamp onto the paint. I check to make sure that the entire surface of the stamp has paint on it.

Then, because I am too impatient to prepare some nice surfaces for printing (typical!) I grab anything that looks printable—an unpainted hand-bound journal, a sheet of creamy writing paper, my messy personal journal—and stamp my new design around a few times, for some instant gratification and just to work it out of my system. I might play with the impressions afterwards: painting in different colors, outlining with pens, shading with colored pencils, whatever…

Now that I’ve had my ‘play time’ with the stamp, I can start thinking about better ways* to put it to use than just stamping everything in sight, like some demented ‘Cowboy X”. :)
MDF cannot be washed in the sink (it goes to hell), so when I want to clean my stamp, I moisten a rag and blot the stamp against this rag a few times, then use the rag to wipe around the sides of the stamp, until the foam looks clean.
* Foam stamps work very well on cotton fabrics, too (wash and iron fabric, first, okay?!) You can use regular acrylic paints if you don’t intend to wash the printed fabric. Otherwise, use fabric paints and heat-set according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

If you’ve got any questions about this post, fire away in the comments section, and I’ll try answer them as best I can. Have fun!

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23 thoughts on “DIY craft foam stamps

  1. I glue my foam bits to heavy/medium acrylic sheets I cut up from clamshell type packaging. Using Aleene’s tacky glue sticks nicely and you can clean stamp, plus added benefit of being able to see through material for stamp placement. Hardly any piece of medium or heavy clear acrylic packaging goes into my trash.

  2. Beck says:

    Beautiful! This is not child’s play or kindergarten stuff. It is work and you did a great job. I just cut a simple monogram and my hand is all cramped up lol. I really like this design! Thanks for posting it.

    • Sure, why not? I don’t claim to be the foam stamp expert or anything! Test your own ideas, experiment, and use whatever suits you / addresses your own needs. It’s not PhD reserach. ;)

    • Ramani, I’ve never done any stamps so large, but I have often thought about using yoga mats…very cheap ones are just flat pieces of hard rubber foam, about 1 cm. thick. If you glue the finishes, cut stamp to a sheet of plywood, it should be quite manageable, I should think. Good luck!

  3. Oooh, very nice! It is so detailed compared to other craft foam stamps I’ve seen. I will have to try this out. I saved some little wood blocks from my husband’s latest woodworking project that will make a nice base to glue the foam to.

  4. If you use Claudine Hellmuth’s acrylic paints, they are actually meant to be used on fabric as well as paper/canvas and are totally washable. With craft paints or less expensive acrylics, you can add fabric medium and that makes even the cheapest of paints machine washable. (Can you tell I’ve done a whole lot of trial and error with acrylics, fabric and my washer/dryer? lol) Awesome stamp you made! You have way more patience than me but you have inspired me. :)
    Peace & Love,
    ~Barb~

    • Carving stamps (lino? rubber?) give you much more detail, and are on the whole a more ‘serious’ printing method…but if you just want a quick fix, foam is cheap and easy. Also, I am finding that there are some paints (thick acrylics, fabric paints) that print better when stamped with foam. Maybe the slightly porous surface picks up more paint than the smooth, hard surfaces of carving blocks. The prints tend to be juicy and solid, none of the faint areas that I get using acrylics on lino. Yes, play with the idea, it’s easy to do, great when you want something in an hour. Cheers!

      • I used rubber to carve the few stamps I’ve made. I like the idea of these foam stamps for stamping on fabric when you don’t necessarily want a lot of detail because the ink might spread anyway. I’ll definitely try this out sometime :)

  5. Beautiful stamp! You have so much patience to get all the little nooks and crannies of that intricate design, an admirable trait that I mostly lack!
    I am curious which fabric paints you prefer?

    • Hello, Rhonda, thank you! It’s not as hard as it looks…you cut the little holes first, then cut around the outside with scissors.
      I don’t work with fabric paints enough to have a preference…I’ve got pedeo setacolor opaques (love the metallics) and I use a lot of silkscreen paints…Permaset, I think.

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