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NYT Travel Postmarks: Carving Custom Rubber Stamps

NYT Postmark Stamps, Lauryn Welch
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Prompt

Create a postmark stamp based on a New York Times Travel article.

Core Ideas

design, symbolism, positive & negative space, text & image

Recommended Courses

Supplies

A supply list for rubber stamps is here.

A physical copy of the New York Times Travel section, an envelope

Process

1.
Choose an article from the New York Times Travel section.

Write a list of images important to the article.

In this case, the article is Pups Onboard: Why Trains Are a Great Way to Travel With Your Dog(s).

“The pugs Rufus and Hamilton have tried every mode of transportation but nothing beats a ride on the rails. (One reason: It’s much easier than getting on a plane.)

A few minutes after we sank into our seats, the train whistled out of the station and the conductor made his way down the aisle. It was just like any other trek between Penn Station and Union Station, except for one thing.

The conductor looked down at our printed ticket and mentally checked off my wife and me before pausing and giving a friendly but perplexed look. “Rufus and Hamilton,” he read off the sheet. “You’ve got four?”

At our feet were Rufus and Hamilton, our two black pug dogs. They were nestled into their sherpa-lined travel bags, quietly being lulled to sleep by the rhythms of the train as we headed from New York to Washington.”

NYT Postmark Stamps, Lauryn Welch

2.
Combine these images into five different thumbnail designs for a postmark stamp.

Consider size, shape, text, font, logo, and color.

Your postmark must include a date, location, post service, and cancellation lines.

NYT Postmark Stamps, Lauryn Welch

3.
Pick one of your thumbnail designs and draw over it with a black brush pen or marker.

Art Supplies: Brush Pen
NYT Postmark Stamps, Lauryn Welch

4.
Pressing hard with a soft graphite pencil, color over all the black marker lines.

Art Supplies: Pencil
Postmark Stamps

5.

Press your design onto a block of Speedball Speedy Carve, so that the graphite pencil is face down on the Speedy Carve.

With the edge of a credit card or a plastic scraper, press the back of the paper into the Speedy Carve surface to transfer the graphite pencil.

Watch this process, and the rest of this technique starting at 03:54 in the video below.

Postmark Stamps
Speedball Speedy Carve

6.
Lift the paper. Your image will have transferred backwards. Your image will come out the original orientation when you stamp it.

NYT Postmark Stamps, Lauryn Welch

7.
Using the smallest carving nib with your linoleum cutter, start by carving out all the finest details.

Carve out everything that is not the graphite pencil areas from the transfer.

Get carving tips in this video below starting at 23:08 min.

NYT Postmark Stamps, Lauryn Welch
Art Supplies: Linoleum Cutter

8.
Move to the larger areas with larger nibs.

Art Supplies: Linoleum Cutter
NYT Postmark Stamps, Lauryn Welch

9.
When the design is carved, use the largest nib to cut around the outline of your stamp.

NYT Postmark Stamps, Lauryn Welch

10.
Use the X-acto knife to cut the shape of your stamp out of the Speedball Speedy Carve block.

X-acto knife
NYT Postmark Stamps, Lauryn Welch

11.
Clean up your stamp by cutting away any large ridges with a nib or X-acto knife.

NYT Postmark Stamps, Lauryn Welch

12.
Do a test of your stamp by pressing it evenly into the ink pad and then onto a scrap piece of paper.

Art Supplies: Stamp Pad
Postmark Stamps

13.
If you see any carved lines around the image that you don’t like, carve them out with the linoleum cutter.

Art Supplies: Linoleum Cutter
NYT Postmark Stamps, Lauryn Welch

14.
Use your postmark stamp on an envelope with a postage stamp on it!

Watch the video below starting at 12:09 min. for tips on how to combine markers with rubber stamps.

Watch the video on the bottom right starting at 05:57 min. for tips on drawing with markers.

NYT Postmark Stamps, Lauryn Welch

Examples

“The article I based my mail stamp off of did not come from the New York Times Travel Section (the most recent New York Times did not have one), but it was based off of a personal story about a 62 year old woman who found her passion for gardening at a later age. The vivid imagery of the flowers, dirt, and style of this woman inspired me to create a two part stamp, including flowers to represent her love for gardening, and cat-eye sunglasses.

During my experience making this piece I learned a lot about patience and time management, for I ended up rushing the stamp making process and ending up with careless, messy mistakes that I later had to digitally edit out (ex: the date and zip code, which ended up smudged and unreadable in the original).

If I were to do this again I would surely be more careful, but overall this was a super fun project that got me to read the New York Times paper– which is actually pretty cool!”

Cindy Qiao

Cindy Qiao
Project Assistant

This was the first time I’ve worked with Speedball Speedy Carve or any sort of carving material in general. So this designing process was all very new to me. Despite this unfamiliarity, the materials in this project were surprisingly easy to work with. The block was easy to carve and the process of transferring my design onto the block was simple.

I think the part of this project I had most difficulty with was definitely creating the design itself. I was tempted to make the design intricate and detailed after I had read the article I chose. I had all these ideas of putting detailed buildings in the design and nice lettering. But I realized because of this material and the purpose of this stamp, the design was meant to be made simple.

Even the simple lettering of the date and the postal service were hard to carve out. But overall, I loved seeing my design go from a simple sketch to a postmark stamp. And as for the medium, I loved the process of carving. There was something so relaxing about it, and I’d love to try it on a larger scale next time.

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