In partnership withToyota

How to Carve Your Own Rubber Stamp — and Use It to Personalize Home Decor

published May 9, 2022
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Credit: Photo: Jason Falchook

Your space is an expression of your own personal style, no matter what you put in it. Maybe you pride yourself on snagging the best pre-loved furniture or decor at thrift stores. Or maybe you’re a pro at incorporating pieces you’ve inherited from loved ones and collected on your travels into your space. Either way: All these one-of-a-kind touches are a powerful way to make your home truly yours.

For an extra bespoke touch, try your hand at putting your own stamp on your space — literally. In April and May, Apartment Therapy hosted Small/Cool NYC, an annual celebration of the most exciting trends in small-space living. One of our favorite standout style moments is in the “Bespoke Style” trend room, curated by designer Sourya Venumbaka in partnership with the first-ever Toyota Corolla Cross. Sourya created custom wallpaper by hand-carving stamps and imprinting designs onto the wallpaper herself!

Credit: Photo: Jason Falchook
Designer Sourya Venumbaka

We were so inspired by Sourya’s space that we hosted a stamp-carving event where attendees could create their own stamps to customize their own decor. If you couldn’t join us in person, you can try this surprisingly easy and fun DIY at home.

Credit: Photo: Jason Falchook

How to Carve Your Own Rubber Stamp

What you’ll need:

  • Tracing paper
  • Pencil
  • Rubber block
  • X-acto knife
  • Carving tool with gouges
  • Ink pad (suitable for paper and fabric)
  • Printing material: kraft paper, notebook, fabric item (tea towel or pouch)
Credit: Photo: Jason Falchook

Instructions:

  1. Draw your design with pencil on tracing paper: Start by drawing a 2×2” tile. Draw some lines and shapes inside the tile. Make sure your design goes all the way to the edges of the tile.
  2. Transfer your design onto the rubber block by placing the tracing paper face down and rubbing it gently with your finger.
  3. When you remove the paper, you will see that the pencil lines have transferred onto the rubber block. Using the X-acto knife, cut out the extra rubber around the tile. Save for another stamp.
  4. Grab your carving tool with the smallest blade inserted, and start carving out the surface of the block by following the pencil lines. Where there are large areas to carve, use the larger gouge. Make sure to keep the blade away from your body, always apply light pressure and be mindful of where your hands are. Gouges are sharp!
  5. Once you are done carving, clean up your workspace so that there are no bits of rubber left anywhere and lay some kraft paper down. Apply ink evenly on the stamp by tapping the ink pad onto the stamp (rather than pressing the stamp down on the pad).
  6. Start with the kraft paper to practice printing. Turn the stamp face down onto the paper and apply gentle pressure with your fingers. Lift off the stamp, apply more ink, and print again to create a repeat pattern.
  7. Try printing in a grid, in a checkerboard pattern, in a diamond pattern, or in a random pattern. Try rotating the stamp 90 degrees every time you print. Experiment until you’re happy with the result.
  8. Once you feel ready, print on the notebook cover, tea towel, or pouch using the same method. Don’t worry about perfection, handmade is all about variation!
  9. You can also try other shapes for a different look: instead of a square tile, make it a circle, a triangle, a flower, a leaf, or a face. Have fun!
  10. After printing on the fabric, set the ink permanently by ironing the fabric before washing.
Credit: Photo: Jason Falchook

While Sourya stamped her wallpaper, you can put your personalized touch on pretty much anything you can think of: Take your gift-giving to the next level by stamping greeting cards or making DIY stationery, create custom wall art, or stamp your design on pillow covers or a lampshade. The possibilities are endless.

Credit: Photo: Christopher Broe; Stylist: Kerri Lyn Walsh

No matter what you make, carving out some time for this DIY is a simple but rewarding way to add a personal touch to your space, no matter its size. Ready for even more style upgrades? Check out the first-ever Toyota Corolla Cross.