Using traditional rubber stamps or the newer clear stamps is an activity that is enjoyable for adults and children alike. Unfortunately, these stamps can sometimes be expensive. The solution to this problem is simple – make your own homemade stamps! Using these simple instructions, both you and your children will be able to make interesting, creative, and inexpensive stamps, using materials you already have around your home.

Materials You Will Need

Several potatoes (this is a good way of using up potatoes that are a bit past their prime)
Child-safe pumpkin carving tools (to carve designs in the potato stamps)
String, yarn and twine (using a variety of different fiber weights is a great way to add more variety to your homemade stamps)
Craft foam sheets (you’ll only need pieces big enough for a single stamp, so this is a great way to use up small scraps)
Child-safe scissors
Water resistant glue
Small wooden blocks or pieces of sturdy cardboard
Ink pads, tempera paint, water-based markers, or watercolor paints
Disposable foam plates
Paper to be stamped

Preparing the Work Area

Stamping can sometimes be messy fun, so cover your work surface with an old vinyl tablecloth. Make sure small children are wearing old clothes or painting smocks.

Potato Stamps

Making potato stamps can be a lot of fun for both children and adults. Although adults often use a sharp paring knife to cut designs into the potatoes, plastic pumpkin carving tools are a better choice for children. Start by cutting the potatoes in half. Using the plastic tools, carve designs into the cut edges. Keep in mind that the portions of the potato that you cut away will not stamp the paint, while the portions you leave intact will. Once you are happy with your design, try your stamp out by pouring a small amount of tempera paint onto a foam plate, spreading it thinly. Press the cut edge of the potato stamp into the paint then press it onto a piece of paper. Adjust your design if necessary to fine-tune your design.

String Stamps

String, twine and cord can also be used to make interesting stamping tools. Start by drawing a design onto a small block of wood or a piece of sturdy cardboard. Use water resistant glue to trace a fine line around your design. Affix string, cord or twine to the glued areas, cutting to fit. Keep in mind that the areas where the string is placed will stamp the ink. When finished, let dry thoroughly. Test your stamp by pressing it against a stamp pad then pressing it against a piece of paper. Adjust your design by adding more string if needed.

Foam Sheet Stamps

Foam sheet material can be easily cut into a wide variety of sizes and shapes using scissors. To make a stamp, cut shapes from the foam, then glue to a wood block or sturdy piece of cardboard. Keep in mind that the foam shapes will be the area that will stamp the ink or paint. Allow the glue to dry completely. Test your stamp by pouring a small amount of paint onto a foam plate, spreading it thinly. Press the stamp into the paint then press it onto a piece of paper. Adjust the stamp’s design if needed. You can also use water-based markers instead of paint. Simply color the foam surface of the stamp with markers. Before pressing onto the paper, exhale gently onto the colored
surface of the stamp several times so that the moisture from your breath will activate the marker ink. Press onto paper quickly and enjoy the colorful designs.