Carving block is traditionally a printmaking tool and is used to cut images that can be reproduced a number of times. Many stampers, however, use carving block to create their own stamps and this is often known as soft block carving. There are many brands and types of carving block available for soft block carving. This ranges from specially designed and formulated carving block through to traditional linoleum (lino cutting). Rubber erasers are also used to carve custom stamps.
Buying Carving Block
Some craft and rubber stamping stores sell some carving block and carving tools. It is also widely available from art stores and print supplies. Carving blocks are typically sold by the block or sheet, however, bulk packs are available for prolific carvers.
Carving blocks are available in different sizes, ranging from small blocks not much bigger than an eraser through to large sheets which are perfect for more ambitious projects. Larger blocks are also more cost-effective. Therefore, buying large blocks and cutting them into smaller pieces can be a cost-effective way of making a number of hand carved stamps.
Types of Carving Block
There are many different types of carving block which are suitable for stamp carving. These include:
- Erasers: these are cheap and readily available. They can be purchased from arts and craft stores as well as a wide range of retailers. Erasers are made from different materials and therefore cut in different ways. Art gum erasers, for instance, are very soft and are easy to cut, but prone to crumbling. White rubber erasers are slightly harder to cut but give good clean images. Erasers present a low cost and easy way to get into stamp carving. Erasers can be carved with a craft knife, meaning that the investment in materials and supplies is minimal.
- Speedy-Cut: made by Speedball Art Products, this is an all-purpose carving block that is available in a range of sizes. The white carving block is made from high-density rubber. It is easy to carve, low cost and is ideal for beginners. Sharp carving tools should be used to get the best results. See Speedy-Cut Review for more information about this product.
- Speedy-Carve: this is also made by Speedball Art Products. These pink carving blocks have been specially created for carving. While this may sound clichéd, carving Speedy-Carve is like cutting into butter. Intricate designs can be cut when using sharp carving tools. More information on the Speedball products can be found on the Speedball website.
- Mastercarve: Mastercarve blocks by Staedtler are made from a soft vinyl. The blocks are easy to carve and this is described as being the carving block for artists. It is more expensive than other carving blocks. The Mastercarve carving blocks are available in a wide range of sizes. For more information, see the Staedtler website.
- Lino: there is a wide range of generic linoleum or linos that are used for carving. Soft cutting linos have been developed over recent years which make carving easier. Even soft lino, however, is significantly harder than soft carving blocks and as such are more difficult to carve and it is less easy to achieve fine detail. Cutting lino is relatively cheap and is often sold in large sheets which can be cut down as required. Lino is best attached to a stamping block when stamping.