Block Printing: How to Make Stamps From Craft Foam

Can you make simple stamps using craft foam and corrugated cardboard? I’d seen the technique explained in books and magazines, but had yet to try it out, so this afternoon I had a play, and here’s what I came up with.

block printed teatowel
Block-printed organic cotton teatowel using a simple handmade stamp that took about 5 minutes to create. Find out how below

Making the stamp is easy. It works best with simple shapes, so after a bit of sketching I came up with a very simple fish design which I drew onto the back of my craft foam sheet then cut out using sharp scissors. The craft foam I bought has an adhesive backing, so it was easily affixed to a piece of corrugated cardboard cut to be just slightly larger than my design. I also made some leaf-shaped stamps by tracing around real tree leaves (not easy to find this time of year!), which I’ll have a play with another day.

I discovered there was a bit of a knack to applying the fabric paint to get an even print on fabric. I used a paint brush to first cover the stamp with fabric paint, then gently dabbed it with a foam brush to even it out and remove any brush marks. I’m now thinking a foam roller would probably give the same effect and would be quicker, but would involve tipping some of the fabric paint out into a tray.

To print the stamp onto fabric, a fair amount of even pressure needs to be applied to the back of the stamp, being careful not to rock it, to push the ink into the fabric. You can clearly see my stamping getting better and darker in colour as I move up the tea towel!

Just for a bit of fun, I thought I’d make one of the fish a different colour. When the ink was dry, I ironed it on the back for 5 minutes to set the ink so it can be washed at 40°C.

yellow fish stamp

The stamp can be cleaned with a damp cloth and used again another day. I think I’m going to enjoy making things using this technique. Would love to know if you try it too!

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