67: Rubber Stamps

Sample stamps Jen lent me to compare to the laser-made versions.

Sample stamps Jen lent me to compare to the laser-made versions.

When we first purchased our laser, I poured over the instruction manual, reading every page regardless of how little of it I understood at the time. One of the many modes and features I read about but didn’t really grasp was Rubber Stamp Mode. The name was clear enough, but the description of the mode confirmed that I could process certain kinds of rubber with the laser to create rubber stamps. Years have passed since then, but this week, I finally picked up some appropriate rubber to give my own stamp making a shot!

Early prototypes were 1" tall, far larger than necessary.

Early prototypes were 1″ tall, far larger than necessary.

I decided on two designs, the logo for Pixelaser and the SMAAAASH!! icon from Earthbound. I prepared both in Illustrator and mirrored and inverted the designs so that the stamps would work as expected.  There’s actually a feature in Rubber Stamp Mode that will do this automatically, but it ridiculously considered the entire engraving table’s surface as an area to invert, and it was prepared to spend literally seven hours uselessly firing at it.  Maybe it’s a bug? In any case, doing those steps manually was brief. The laser software handled the rest, intelligently creating a beveled surface around the letters to prevent them from shifting when the rubber meets the paper. The end result reminds me a lot of the 3D mode I explored last year.

The stamps desperately needed to be cleaned after processing.

The stamps desperately needed to be cleaned after processing.

When I ordered the “low-odor rubber,” I also picked up two traditional stamp handles with space for 2″ by 1″ stamp rubbers. Because of this, when I first set out to design my stamps, I created them in the same aspect ratio. This was despite that both designs I wanted to use were less than a half inch tall when two inches wide. This caused issues where the blank area of the stamp would take on ink and then transfer it to the paper—you can see it in the examples below as a black frame around the stamped word. I solved this issue first by significantly lowering the speed of engraving (from 30% speed to 10% speed) and then by reducing the vertical size of the stamp.  It didn’t occur to me until then that I didn’t actually have to cover the entire surface that the stamp handle afforded me.

Final stamp designs before being applied to the handles.

Final stamp designs before being applied to the handles.

Despite some ink coverage issues partially owed to using an ink pad from some untold years ago, I’m thrilled with the result.  I hope Jennifer won’t mind me SMAAAASH!!ing things around the house now.

Plenty of stamp tests. The frames on some of the words are due to shallow engraving and too much white space.

Plenty of stamp tests. The frames on some of the words are due to shallow engraving and too much white space.

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