Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Elephant No. 123: Foam Stamp

I was in a thrift store earlier today and found some bags of foam blocks. My first thought was that they would be great for carving into stamps. At $1.99 a bag, they were inexpensive enough that I bought a few different shapes.

I decided to make something small, so I chose the round yellow shape, which is a little over an inch (2.5 cm) in diameter. I began by drawing a design on the end, using a plain HB pencil.

Taking a craft knife, I began cutting away everything that wasn't the elephant. It didn't take long—way less time than either lino or the rubber lino substitute—but, because it's springy, it sometimes caught on the blade.

To make some of the lines a little more defined, I used a nail file to squish them down a bit. The final stamp looked kind of cute, I thought.

I started by pressing the stamp into a thin layer of acrylic paint. This was a bad idea, because the paint tended to collect along the edges and in the cracks, making for a very messy impression when I used the stamp on paper.

Next, I tried some actual printing ink and a brayer to roll the ink onto the stamp. This made a cleaner impression, but not as crisp as I would have liked. The series below is about all you get out of one thin layer of ink.

Because the foam is much softer than any actual lino material, my theory is that it can't be pressed too heavily into the paper, or it will smush and spread out the design. On the other hand, if you don't press with at least a bit of pressure, you get nothing.

In the end, I was much more enamoured with the stamp than with any of the impressions it produced. I will still try this again, perhaps with a bigger foam shape next time, but I'll leave the detailed work for proper lino blocks.

Elephant Lore of the Day
This story comes from a news clipping included in the book Behemoth: The History of the Elephant in America, by Ronald B. Tobias.

In November 1865, a cantankerous Quaker known as Friend Shavery was sitting on a fence watching his bull snorting and pawing in a field, when an elephant from Van Amburg's Menagerie passed by. Expecting trouble between the bull and the elephant, named Tippoo Sahib, the elephant's keeper called out, "Take your bull out of the way!"

Shavery was an unpleasant man, generally disliked in the county, and seems to have eagerly anticipated the outcome of a dust-up between Tippoo and the bull. "Proceed with thy elephant," he calmly replied.

The elephant's keeper, a man called Nash, insisted that Shavery move the bull: "If you don't move that bull, he will get hurt."

Confident of his bull's ability to take on any elephant, Shavery replied: "Don't trouble thyself about the bull, but proceed with thy elephant."

Nash let Tippoo Sahib continue across the field. The bull charged at Tippoo. Tippoo didn't even break stride as he picked up the bull in his tusks, crushed its ribs and tossed it aside. The bull hit the ground head first, breaking its neck.

"I'm afraid your bull has bent his neck a little," Nash shouted over his shoulder as he continued on his way.

Enraged, Shavery shouted that his bull would have won if the elephant hadn't been so "hefty". To make sure Nash knew how displeased he was, Shavery added: "I was going to take my family to thy show, but I'll see thee and thy show blowed to blazes before I go one step!"

Nash's response is not recorded.

African bull elephant.
Source: wjuegos de cocina

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