There are lots of different blocks available to make your own stamps. Unlike linocut blocks, stamp blocks are designed to be cut into smaller shaped pieces. We have tested four of our blocks to help you decide which is the best block for your project and budget:
Pink Speedy Carve, white Mastercut, blue Speedy Cut Easy and green Japanese Block.
It’s easy to use a pencil to draw on all four of the stamp materials.
We used the V tool from the Japanese Cutting Tool Set to carve out the lines. All four blocks were very easy to cut. The blue Speedy Cut Easy feels the softest but none of the blocks requires any effort to carve.
The pink Speedy Carve and white Mastercut are a little stretch when carving near the edges of the block whereas the blue Speedy Cut Easy and green Japanese Block remain stable all the way to the edges. The green Japanese Block has a white centre which can make it clearer to see the carved lines.
Next, we used a Pfeil 11/1 tool to carve fine lines. This tool is fantastic for tiny detail.
The pink Speedy Carve enabled really tiny lines to be cut. The edges are smooth and clean. The corners were a little trickier to cut as the material began to stretch a little. This didn’t affect the design too much though.
Next, the same detail was carved into the blue Speedy Cut Easy. It was trickier to cut very fine detail as the material is slightly more crumbly. The edges of the tiny lines are a little less clean and a little fluffy.
The white Mastercut cut well with the tiny gouge. It was tricky to get the detail as fine at the edges of the block where it began to stretch a little. The edges of some of the lines became a little fluffy and less clean than the pink Speedy Carve.
The green Japanese Block carved beautifully with no stretch. This enabled very fine detail to be cut right to the edges.
Next, we used the 11/1 Pfeil Tool to carve tiny dots into the blocks. By rotating the block underneath the tool, a dot can be cut.
The pink Speedy Carve cut easily. The tool slid a little on the block so the result was little curls rather than round dots but they were very clean and neat.
The blue Speedy Cut Easy stretched a little when carving the dots so the results were not very neat.
The white Mastercut was tricky to control when carving a dot so the marks left were a little erratic.
The green Japanese Block cut dots perfectly leaving clean round holes.
The final areas to carve was the centre, which was cleared using a large U gouge. The centre cleared very easily on all four of the blocks. The green Japanese Block was the cleanest to carve, leaving a smooth texture. The other three blocks need a little neatening, especially at the edges. The blue and white were a little fluffy, the pink was lovely and smooth like the green block.
When the stamps were carved, it was time to cut them out. All of these blocks can be easily cut using a scalpel.
The pink Speedy Carve and white Mastercut were easily cut using just one swipe of the scalpel. The blue Speedy Cut Easy took one or two swipes to get through the material. The green Japanese Block took two or three swipes to get through the block. The Japanese Blocks are thicker than the other three.
All of the stamps can be printed easily. We used Versacraft Ink Pads on paper. Placing the stamp on the table and dabbing the pad on top is the easiest way to ink up and allows for small pads to be used for large blocks.
The green Japanese Block is the thickest, making it easiest to pick up and print with. The white Mastercut block is the thinnest and so is possibly a little messier and more fiddly to print with. The prints below show that the Mastercut, Speedy Carve and Speedy Cut Easy need a little more neatening is the cleared out area, especially at the edges. A scalpel can be used to trim the raised edges a little so they won’t pick up ink. The clarity of the pink Speedy Carve and Japanese Block is the neatest. The Speedy Cut Easy and Mastercut are a little fuzzier, though they all print beautifully!
Here’s a little summary of our findings:
White Mastercut – very easy and quick to cut, a little stretchy at the edges, carved lines can be a little fluffy here and there. The thinnest of the blocks. Very inexpensive. Available in packs of two in four sizes including a large block which can be cut up to make many stamps.
Pink Speedy Carve – carves easily and clearly, very fine detail is possible, stable to cut but a little stretchy at the edges, smooth cut texture with neat lines. A little more expensive. Available in three sizes including a large block which can be cut up to make many stamps.
Blue Speedy Cut Easy – very soft and very easy to carve, a little crumbly on occasion, trickier to achieve fine detail, slightly fluffy cut marks. Inexpensive. Available in three sizes.
Green Japanese Block – easy to cut, doesn’t stretch at all, white centre makes it easy to see where has been cut, smooth cut texture and neat lines. A little more expensive. Thicker block makes it a little trickier to cut through with a scalpel but easier to hold to print. Available in two sizes (larger size is yellow).