Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Book Review: Stamp It!, by Jenny Doh

Stamp It!:

DIY Printing with Handmade Stamps

By Jenny Doh

Lark Books, August 2013

Paperback  £14.99

ISBN 9781454703990

Making your own stamps is a crafty skill that is enjoying great popularity – it ties in with the cosy, retro, handprinted look (the antidote to computer-generated composite prints). This attractive and accessible book for beginners would make a great gift. Or, you might want to buy it now for yourself and start stamping your own Christmas gifts-to-give. You will find many easy and stylish stamped gift ideas within the pages of this book.

The upfront section runs you through the basics of carving stamps with a lino-cutter, either from ordinary pink erasers or specialist carving blocks (which are easily obtainable online or from art supply shops). The book is also peppered with useful tips. (I am keen to check out the Photoshop Stamp Filter, which can help transform photos into outlines for stamp designs.)

Ten talented stamp designers have contributed projects to the collection; artists include Gertie Jaquet, Noelle Griskey, and Ishtar Olivera Belart. There is a good mix of ideas, with plenty of variety. The projects are not just confined to paper. You will find fabric craft projects, such as Sweet Teacups on a Towel (embellishing a windowpane cloth with teacup motifs), and the very wonderful Hip Baby Wearables (white cotton baby vests decorated with some funky crows, or a night-time cityscape).  The Rings in a Dish project, is a ceramic dish ring-keeper. By showcasing different  stamping surfaces, you learn which stamp pads/inks are appropriate for which surfaces.

This book charms you with small-scale projects that are invitingly do-able, “small but thoughtful touches”, as the book says. Case in point: the Soap Tissue and Band. A tissue-wrapped bar of soap with a gift band. A basketful of these would make a lovely gift. Or, the mini-stamps carved into pencil-tops erasers (a set of these would make a fun stocking filler for an older child).

A great idea which runs through the book is the multi-layered stamp. Combine a basic outline stamp with interchangeable filler prints:
Teacup stamps by Josephine Ho, from Stamp It!, Lark Crafts.
When the stamped motifs are so small, registration is not much of a problem. And slightly out-of-register prints add to the appealing retro look. Another take on the multi-layered stamp idea is the stamp with cut-outs that can be drawn in, as in the Thumb-stamped Card, by Ishtar Olivera Belart.

Here's another example of a project by the same artist:
Dressed-up Envelope, by Ishtar Olivera Belart, from Stamp It!
(I thought I'd feature it because it ties in with The Papercraft Post theme!). Here, an amigurumi-look outline stamp is coloured in with gel pens. (Note how the gel pen colours are echoed in the washi-tape envie trim.)True, the stamp-carving in this particular project might be a bit of a stretch for a complete novice - but you have to have something to aspire to! And there's a template section back-of-book, including some extras and variations.

So, for an entry-level make-your-own stamp book, Stamp It! is a good choice. If you want something more ambitious, I would recommend Making an Impression, by Gennine D. Zlatkis, also published by Lark Crafts, which was one of last year’s best craft titles.

Note: I was sent a review copy of this title.