Hand Made Quality
I put tons of work into each and every stamp I make; the quality of the end product matters so much because these are my own images. Some artists are printmakers, they make multiple copies of one piece of art. Stamp making is similar, in that each one is a copy of my original drawing.
This photo shows two maple rubber stamp blocks. The upper one is how it comes from the supplier. Most stamp makers use their blocks "straight out of the box", and this is what you get. The lower block is how is how my stamp mounts look after a bit of work in my woodshop. Notice the edges of the block, the top corner is rounded over, and the side corners are smoothed as well. I apply a natural oil based finish - not shellac - to help protect the wood and make it look and feel more... yummy, almost good enough to eat. The brand is burned in with a branding iron - so you'll never forget where you got it!
On the top of the block there are differences as well. The "index" is the rubber stamp image on the block. I stamp mine by hand with soy oil-based printers ink. It's tricky stuff to work with and has to dry overnight, but it's worth the trouble. This ink is jet black and quite permanent. The fun part is that the mess I make cleans up with any kind of vegetable oil instead of icky solvents!
What's that red thing in the corner? That's my chop, or signature (my initials are S.v.d.M). With all the extra work I put into these gems, I think it only fair that I personally sign each one (note: some design indexes fill up the whole block and leave no room for the chop). Question: why isn't my chop a Chinese character? Answer: I'm not Chinese.
This is the part that really impresses other stamp makers - my trimming. I trim my dies twice - once on the rubber, and again on the red foam cushion, and each time by hand with a sharp pair of Kai scissors. With scissors, you actually get a beveled edge, that is, the rubber gets wider as it goes down away from the printing surface. The same goes for the cushion, so what you end up with is a very sturdy foundation, like a pyramid. When you have a design with small parts that protrude, such as a figure with her arm sticking out, the solid foundation keeps that part of the stamp from wiggling around while you apply lots of pressure to get a good, clean stamped image. Now to be fair, certain images in my collection that have no protuberances, such as scenes with square borders, are trimmed using a straight blade without the bevel. I only trim this way on designs that will not benefit from scissor trimming!