Art & Design Magazine

Polymer Stamp Making Machine

By Ainescannell @etchedweb
I have been finally having success with my imagebox polymer stamp making machine.  When I first had delivery of it about 2 or 3 years ago.  I went through the process of making a stamp and it was a 'flop'.  So I thought OMG its not that easy and I was working on other printmaking projects and thought bah....I will have another attempt another time.

Fast forward to now where I find myself in a situation where I need plates of raised handwritten text to offset to acetate and then work up further to create monoprints

Polymer Stamp Making Machine                   *  initial tests of A7 polymer stamps - offset on acetate - monotyped
So I had a go at the weekend taking great care to get dense black and white negatives and made sure I adhered strictly to the instructions.  AND it worked.
Last night I tried another one trial plate and it worked well - probably even better than the first one. I did make the writing bigger and fatter and I found I got the best negative for my stamp making procedure through doing the handwriting on the computer screen itself using a Photoshop virtual pencil.  Not the greatest 'ergonomic' experience as such but you kind of get used to it after a while. .Here's a photo of my first test * - which looks awful in one sense but for me its a successful out come and I am able to proceed with my idea without having to spend hours and hours of back breaking neck aching carving of a lino plate - which I started last week.  I will finish that sometime but who knows when.  I was finding that my hands were truly aching after I cut away the lino of about 20 words and with 6 plates to create - life's too short and my hands are too precious!!
Polymer Stamp Making MachineFirst A4 Polymer Stamp attempt
I had of course initially endeavoured to get the raised text by etching using aluminum then steel then zinc but time after time it just wasn't happening.  I was using the salt etch mordant i.e., copper sulphate which some might think would be a 'cinch' but you must be kidding it was like trying to get blood from a stone.

I wrote the above as a 'draft' post about 6 weeks ago.  Those polymer stamps I made using the Imagebox machine were A7 size - which is pretty small. 

Polymer Stamp Making Machine

Second A4 Polymer Stamp attempt

Since that time I have been attempting to make an A4 polymer stamp and its been a lot of disappointment and frustration.  I have four A4 failed polymer stamps to show for it.  

I am hoping that the next one will be the one that comes out well.I suppose at least they have improved.  The only thing that's missing from them is they don't have a floor.  The raised text is there but the poor little letters don't have a ground to cling on to.  Some of them even tried to escape down the sink plughole when I was washing out the 'gunge' from the polymer stamps.Pretty boring post but that's an aspect of printmaking sometimes - trying to make something work !!

My A4 polymer stamp has worked - I used 1  minute for the first exposure phase which creates the 'floor' of the polymer stamp.
Then I flipped it over and let it settle down (the polymer sachet) for another minute,
Then as Sally ( at Photocentric) suggested - I did the next phase, i.e., the image exposure for 14 minutes.
This stamp has a floor which is excellent because that way the handwriting has something to grip onto.
I am so so so PLEASED !!!!........I got there in the end. HOORAY !!

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