Rubber stamping is an age-old art or craft, wherein a dye or pigment-ink is applied to a pattern or image that has been molded, carved vulcanized or laser-engraved into a sheet of rubber. The rubber sheet is then mounted on wood, acrylic block, brick or to other more stable objects. The ink-coated rubber stamp is then firmly pressed into any kind of medium, mostly paper or fabrics, in a firm manner, so that the image engraved on the rubber stamp is transferred to the medium. Other viable mediums for stamping also include plastic, rock, glass, metal and wood. The commercially-available rubber stamps today are generally classified in three categories, namely stamps for office use, decorating stamps and stamps for use as children's toys. .
Rubber Stamping As an Art Form
As rubber stamping gained popularity around the world, it also gained a solid reputation as a major art form. Once it gained prominence as an accepted art form, many adherents began to spread the gospel of rubber stamping in its most visually-appealing form. In the United States for example, some rubber stamping enthusiasts chose to carve their own rubber stamps, using either conventional gum erases or eraser-type rubber. A number of established companies also created carving sets and sold them to amateurs who wanted to carve their own rubber stamp designs. Among the companies who supplied the carving sets include Master Carve and Speedball. The print molded from the carved rubber stamp is often viewed by many to be an art form in its own right, and can also be used to embellish or enhance a work of art.
Other paints, pigments and dyes can also help to create different stamping effects or impressions. These materials extend the use of rubber stamping, allowing them to be used on mediums such as wood, metal, glass and others. Rubber stamps can also be combined with other materials. The image or design can be embellished with materials such as fibers, paints, ink and chalk. These are generally used in mail art, as well as in artist trading cards. Rubber stamping is also utilized for scrapbooking, letterboxing and hand-made card making.
Other Materials That Can Be Used To Produce a Stamp
Apart from rubber, other materials and components may also be used to create a stamp. Woodcut and linocut can be used to produce a stamp. Linocut is quite popular in Europe, particularly with students and hobbyists. Woodcut on the other hand, is more preferred by experienced artists and sculptors, and requires more patience and skill to use. Linoleum is also an ideal material for making stamps, although it's much harder than wood, and requires the use of special tools as well. Rubber carvings also make for popular rubber stamp materials, though these are mostly promoted as children's toys, and are not used for commercial or office applications.
History of Rubber Stamping
Before rubber stamps were invented, metal printing stamps made of brass were initially used. Brass stamps were used in the form of seals, and were used with wax to ensure the privacy, as well as the veracity of documents. These types of seals were also quite elaborate, and were viewed as an art form also.
While historians can not exactly confirm where the first-ever rubber stamp was first produced, many agree that an American named Charles Goodyear discovered the process for effectively curing rubber in 1844. Charles Goodyear though stumbled on this discovery by accident, as he dropped a mix of sulphur and rubber on a hot stove while experimenting in his kitchen, and found out that the material remained flexible until the following day. He then named the process of curing rubber as vulcanization, in honor of Vulcan, the Roman god of fire.
Rubber molds however, were not initially used as rubber stamps. They were in fact, set in plastic molds, and used by dentists as denture bases. These were called dental pots, which were used in turn, to produce the first rubber stamps. A number of rubber stamp manufacturers in the 1880's are still in operation up to this day, and they resemble the stamps found in banks and offices, as well as those found in the Post Office.