Girls in the Woods

A couple of days ago when I was on the bus I notices a huge chunk of bright orange fungi on a tree trunk by the side of the road. I couldn't get a good closer look though because the bus was going too fast, but I was so intrigued and decided to pay a visit the next day after the rain.

Look at it. Just look at it.
The creature (or creatures, maybe?) was just breath-taking. It's about 60cm/2 feet tall I showed the photo to one of my mushroom-expert friends and was told that this belongs to the species of...(*drumrolls) Laetiporus sulphureus. Here's what Wikipedia says:

"Laetiporus sulphureus is a species of bracket fungus (fungus that grows on trees) found in Europe and North America. Its common names are sulphur polypore, sulphur shelf, and chicken of the woods. Its fruit bodies grow as striking golden-yellow shelf-like structures on tree trunks and branches. ..."

Part of me really wanted to eat it but alas, it's just too beautiful.
Why am I writing about mushrooms and whatnots on a craft blog, you ask? Because 1) nature is awesome and 2) it is probably as inspiring as it gets! 

Another thing to love about the woods: randomness.
Onto the craft part of the blog... the first custom stamp I made last week was one for little Laura. Her family friend Victoria is a repeat customer of mine. For Laura's birthday, Victoria requested a custom Ex Libris stamp to personalize the little girl's book collection. 

Laura is a dark-haired girl who loves nature; for her stamp, I designed a girl in her likeness, wearing a garland made of bay laurel leaves (her namesake) with a little bird standing on her hand. 

I found this lovely piece of shell-shaped wood in my wood stump box and just had to design the stamp based on the amazing organic shape. Really happy with how it turned out!

The stamp measures app. 2.6" tall.
Another one I made is a portrait stamp for Jenny. She's my only customer from Brunei and I've made so many stamps for her I lost count:p This one is the prize from the last custom portrait stamp giveaway on my Facebook page (yes, I give out free stamps, even custom ones - so if you've not been there, you should!).

As you may have noticed, I love creating custom stamps based on the shapes of the wood mount. It just feels natural and... right.
Apart from these two stamps, I also sent orders to Cerritos CA, Albuquerque NM, Seattle WA, Gaithersburg MD, Wiltshire U.K., London, Santiago, Chile last week, to name just a few. I can't describe how happy I am when I pop the brown paper bags in the yellow post box, knowing how far they'll travel. 

Here's how the Swedish post boxes look. They are yellow and blue (blue ones not shown here) like the national flag.
Btw, did you know you could see a real-time map of where my last 20 orders went? It's here - on the bottom of the page - and it's my favorite little secret gadget on the site.

That's all for now! As some of you might know, I'm moving to a new crib early next month so if you order custom stamps later than June 28th, I most likely won't be able to ship it around July15th, so that's app. 17 days rather than my usual 7 day turnaround for custom orders.

Have a nice mid summer to you all! Ha en trevlig midsommar:)

Smallest Stamps Ever

Ever wonder what's the smallest stamp I make?

Christy from Round Pound Winery in Rutherford, California sent me a request for some teeny tiny stamps to use on their wine menu. Here are the stamps I made for her!

So exactly how small are these little ones are? More pictures (featuring a lovely yellow ruler) after the jump!

If you ever find yourself in Rutherford, CA, check out their amazing estate! The long table overlooking the old vineyard looks gorgeous and they have great reviews on Yelp.

So here are more pictures of the tiny stamps. They are smallest than 1cm wide and I like how good the serif fonts looks even at such a small size.

So what do you think? If you have a tiny project ready for me I'll happily take the challenge. You can reach me on Facebook, or check out my website and send me a message there. Or you could always try the good old-fashioned email:)

And here's my inspiration of the day. Wanna see the face of the universe? Watch the video!

This Cider House Rules!

A few weeks back I got a request for a new logo for the Cider House, a group of importers of premium English Ciders to Denmark. As of now, the logo I designed for them is right on the top left corner on their website!

The client requested a logo design together with a custom stamp made and pictures to be taken during the process so here they are! Read on for loads of pictures showing me making the stamp after the jump.

 Hand Carving Rubber Stamp for Cider House Logo

The stamp was first designed digitally. Once the sketch was approved by the client, I printed the digital sketch onto a piece of acid paper. I sometimes just use my laptop as a lightbox (the convertible Thinkpad X230T) but for for this logo I printed it just to get perfect lines.

Hand Carving Rubber Stamp for Cider House Logo
Oooh all wrinkly hand from holding the pencil too hard:/
This is how the pencil sketch on acid paper is transferred onto the rubber. I flip the acid paper so that the sketch is facing down, facing the rubber block. I'm using Speedball's Speedy Carve here. I like how sturdy it is - it's perfect for typography stamps. Its thickness also makes it great for thicker wood mounts.

Once the sketch is put on the stamp, I hold it in place using one hand and then gently scratch with my right hand. You can use your nails; or if you are worried about that pretty manicure or nice long nails, use anything with a round-ish edge: a credit card, a pen cap, etc.. (Don't you just feel great when you find another new use for those everyday objects?)

Hand Carving Rubber Stamp for Cider House Logo
I also cut pieces off the rubber block so the design fits better.
Proceed to carving now! You can actually start anywhere on the stamp; I like to start from the outside and work my way. The reason is that if you start from the middle, especially with bigger stamps, you risk smudging the pencil lines with your hand. 

Here I'm using my new favorite scalpel, the white NT Cutter. I recently got it from Japan not so long ago and have been pleasantly surprised by the sharpness of the blade and texture of the handle.

Hand Carving Rubber Stamp for Cider House Logo
Did I mention I have another stamp-making tutorial here?
After the carving of the lettering part is done, I use scotch tape to remove the remaining pencil stain off the stamp. You wanna stay away from the real sticky kind because it tends to either damage the stamp or leave glue on it.

For this step, with some more tender rubber blocks, use kneadable eraser instead.

Hand Carving Rubber Stamp for Cider House Logo
It takes a few tries to get the stamp nice n' clean.
What I do next is take the scalpel and cut off the extra bits on the outer edge horizontally. Be careful how deep you go; otherwise you might cut off the parts you want to leave.

Hand Carving Rubber Stamp for Cider House Logo
If you insert your knife at the right angle you can actually see the tip of the blade, making it easier to remove just the right amount of rubber.
Next step is when the gouge comes into play! Use it to remove the extra bits in the middle of the stamp. I'm using Essdee Lino Cutter with the No.1 blade. It's hardly the most well-made lino cutter out there (the parting line on the plastic handle makes it  a bit annoying to hold), but I've had it for three years now and am getting somewhat attached to it. Might have to do with the bright red color - who knows.

Hand Carving Rubber Stamp for Cider House Logo
Be careful not to damage the lines!
Now that the carving is completed, it's time to try and see how the printing goes! Use a light-colored stamp and gently pat the pigment color on the stamp. The blue you see here is Sea Breeze by VersaMagic. Lovely, isn't it?

After the first print, check out how it looks to see if the stamp needs any changes made.

Hand Carving Rubber Stamp for Cider House Logo
I love how the details gradually show when you color a newly made stamp.
I was happy with the first imprint and didn't change a thing. I proceeded to finalize the print by using Brilliance's Rocket Red and Gamma Green. Brilliance has my favorite collection of pigment inks - they come in all the basic colors as well as some pearlescent colors. The pigment ink looks great on both paper and wood.

Hand Carving Rubber Stamp for Cider House Logo
The dew-shaped ink pads works amazingly on stamps with tiny details. You can use the tip of the ink pad to color small parts of the stamps.
As usual, I printed the stamp again on a piece of hand-crafted wood stump. All the wood mounts in my shop are handmade like the stamps.

Hand Carving Rubber Stamp for Cider House Logo
I love how different-shaped wood mounts works with different stamps.
Here's a final picture of the completed, mounted rubber stamp! Do you like it black-and-white or with the apple colors? 

Working with small businesses on their logos and brand identity is one of the best things about what I do. If you have a small business of your own, check out my listing for custom logo stamps, leave a message or send a private note on Facebook!

Hand Carving Rubber Stamp for Cider House Logo

New Yeeeeear!

We celebrated the Chinese New Year this monday! 

It's the year of dragon and it's my year. Chinese people believe that you're to expect bad luck in your own year, which is why your family members and friends give you accessories or jewelry that are gold or red to ward off evil. I got a package from my mom a couple of weeks back so now I have a red bracelet with a gold dragon pendant on it, and ten red socks from my family:D And my roommate got me a huge red shawl for Christmas, so I'm feeling pretty protected now!

Here're some pictures I took of the fireworks over the City Hall and old town of Stockholm on the (Western) New Year's eve. 

How did you spend New Year's?

And some recent custom stamps:

Deep Autumn, or Early Winter

I've been incredibly busy recently. Apart from my shop, I'm: 

1) taking a Swedish course everyday
2) making a business plan for my shop here in Stockholm
3) helping out on an anthology which will be published by the English Department.

It's getting dark early now and after I bike home everyday from my Swedish course there's almost always a splendid sunset outside my window. The orange/red/purple sky reminds me of the Lion King somehow:)

My roommate discovered some mini prosciutto ravioli in a local organic food store. I tried some today for lunch with my regular chicken breast salad and it's just sooooo yummy. Some greens, a tomato, cooked ravioli and chicken breast pan-fried in olive oil plus the usuals, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Need I say more?