Rubberstamps made from 'Foamies'
In the fall of 1997 I saw a book
on 'nature printing' where you ink fresh leaves and press them
on to paper. The cards and designs in the illustrations really
impressed me - but it was fall and I wanted to play with the
idea longer than the few weeks we'd still have fresh leaves.
About the same time I saw leaf rubberstamps for sale... somehow
I got the idea to ink the leaves and put them on to a sheet of
'Foamies' craft foam, then cut them out, score them where their
veins were, and glue them on to Lauan flooring. It worked!
make your own leaf rubberstamp, you will need:
- A fresh-picked leaf you like
the shape of - the flatter the better
- A sheet of 'Foamies' craft foam
(1/4" thickness is best, but 1/8" will do too)
- An ink pad, preferably permanent
- Scissors and a utility knife
- Wood glue (or white glue or
- Scrap Lauan (or plywood, or
paneling, or masonite, whatever you have handy) big enough to
fit the leaf on to with a 1/8" margin*
- Scroll saw (or band saw, or
other type of saw) to cut the wood to fit the stamp*
*if you're desparate to try this
idea but don't have any scrap wood or a scroll saw handy, you
can glue the foamies on to a sheet of stiff tagboard or shirt
cardboard, trim with scissors, and it will be good for a few
stamps... then later you can glue the tagboard on to wood for
a more permanent stamp.
to make the stamp:
- Carefully ink the back
of the leaf, taking care to get the tips, the stem and all the
leaf veins as well inked as you can.
- Lay the leaf gently on the foam.
Press all parts of the leaf gently but firmly into the foam using
your fingers, taking care that the leaf doesn't move around as
- Carefully remove the leaf.
(you can re-ink and re-use, if you don't like the first impression.)
Let ink dry.
- Using scissors or utility knife,
cut carefully around the edges of the leaf, using the original
leaf as a reference where necessary.
- Using a utility knife, cut the
major veins of the leaf heavily (about halfway through the foam)
and the smaller veins lightly (score surface) into the foam.
If you can only see part of a vein, only cut part... it will
give it that 'natural' look. With the largest veins, you can
cut two parallel lines on both sides of the vein, or one gouge
thick line, or a thinner line along one side... experiment and
see what looks best for your leaf.
- Glue the foam leaf on to the
Lauan. Let dry.
- Cut the Lauan to fit the leaf,
leaving a small (1/8" or less) margin around the edges.
on leaf stamps:
- The stamps will need a preliminary
inking and stamping before you stamp them on to a card... the
first impressions of the stamp may be extremely faded.
- For larger leaves, you will
need a large stamp pad, or one where the pad goes above the plastic
rim. Or you can use markers.
- Combining several colors (for
example: yellow on one edge, red on the top, orange elsewhere)
will give you a more realistic leaf print. Allow the colors to
blend. You'll have to give up your pristine stamp pad ink colors,
- Stamps can be cleaned by alternating
a wet sponge and dry towels. Running them under water works,
but can loosen the glue.
on other stamps:
- You can make your own rubberstamps
out of anything stampable: your child's hand, a cross-section
of an orange, a flower, etc.
- You can also just draw any design
on the foam and cut it out: quilt pieces, hearts, stars, etc.
- Remember to make any letters
or numbers mirror-image, so that they show up correctly when
...feel free to email me at with
ideas, comments, etc!