A while back I posted about ordering a kit to make my own rubber stamps with. It's been sitting on my desk for about a week but I just haven't had time to sit down and figure it out. I've wanted to try photopolymer plates for a while, which are very similar to what I bought but need a ultraviolet light. For a while they were all out of my reach, price wise, but a recent search turned up PhotoCentric (This is the US site for a UK based company. You can find the UK site here.
They seem to be a great source for several different kinds of stamp making kits from the UV photopolymer to one that cures with a regular 60 watt light bulb. That one is the cheapest and I thought would be a good starting point for me. The kit comes with four packs to make two different sized stamps (the largest actually will make two stamps each) as well as all the other tools (except for the light and light bulb) you will need to make stamps - even some graphics.
The directions are very clear. Your image or drawing must be black and white only, with the background black and what will become the stamp white. I have wanted to have a few small stamps with words and some emoticons for making charms and so I simply typed some up in Microsoft Word and reversed the colors.
The imagepacs are small packages of a gel substance. They are shipped in, and should also be stored in, a black box as any bit of light will begin to cure the gel.
The process is easy enough. You place your graphics face up on an enclosed plexiglass clamp, set the imagepac on top and then put the other half of the plexiglass thing to make a sort of sandwich. It has strong magnets which hold the items quite tightly and flattens out the imagepac well. Placed about 7 inches under the light bulb and on top of a black sheet of paper, the whole thing is cured, with the paper side down, for two minutes, flipped over and then cured for another 12 minutes.
Working quickly after that, the pack is opened , and placed under warm water, scrubbing with dish soap and then supplied brush to remove the unhardened part of the stamp (what is under the black part of the graphic). Keeping it in the light too long will harden the parts that are not covered with black. After that, the piece should be hardened under the light one more time, this time covered in water. At that point, the stamp should be ready to use.
My stamp came out well, I think, except the graphics weren't quite as deep as I thought they would be. But that could be due to any number of factors, including the fact that my graphics weren't black enough. It is recommended that an ink jet printer is used, but I don't have one, so I used my laser printer. I would like to try it again using transparency sheets. You can also buy, through the company, special ink jet film to print on.
The stamps are deep enough to make a stamp onto paper, though ,and I suspect they are also deep enough to make an impression in PMC. The stamp remains fairly pliable and easy to cut, so I may cut this one into smaller stamps and attach them to wooden dowels or something similar. The kit comes with an acrylic stamp base and the back of the rubber stamp is sticky enough to stay firmly on the base, but is easily peeled off so a different stamp can be used with the base.
I will be continuing to play with making more stamps and texture sheets and experimenting to get better, deeper impressions. All in all, though I do like this kit. You can also buy refills of the imagepacs in several different sizes.