One of the great how-tos we tackled inPaper Crafting: Skills and Techniques is rubber stamp carving – similar to creating woodcuts or linocuts but with much more forgiving materials that allow you to customize paper for most any project. It’s the perfect how-to for beginner skill levels – but I have some tips and tricks that the seasoned crafter can use to take their projects to the next level.
This particular project was inspired by the traditional koinobori motifs found in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo, not far from my neighborhood. Koinobori , or “carp streamers” are fish-shaped wind socks traditionally flown in Japan on Children’s Day (May 5th) – a holiday that celebrates the happiness of its little ones. These high-flying fish out of water are brightly colored and vary from realistic to highly stylized.
I chose to design a pared-down, graphic representation of the carp that would translate well when carved as a stamp. I sized it to fit twice on a 5 ½” x 8 ½” sheet paper. When the paper is rolled into a tube and secured with tape it resembles a wind sock with the stamped motif visible on either side. Punch a couple of holes and it can be suspended from the end of dowel, just like a traditional koinobori.
Watch my class to earn the stamping and patterning techniques used in this craft along with other great paper-centric projects like paper making, paper marbling, paper flora construction and papier-mâché!
Stamped Koinobori Wind Sock
Materials and tools:
- 4” x 6” soft rubber carving block
- Linoleum cutter tool with V-gouge and U-gouge blades/nibs
- Craft knife
- 8 1⁄2” x 11” text weight paper
- Koinobori design
- Ink pads
- Double sided tape
- Hole punch
1. Start by doing an image search for koinobori – you’ll find multiple examples of stylized carp on which to base your design. Some websites even offer printable designs from which you can choose. Photocopy, trace, sketch or print out your design to fit within a 4” x 6” area.
2. Trace over your design in pencil. Position your traced design face side down onto the soft rubber carving block and burnish the back of the paper with your pencil or a spoon. This will transfer the design image to the face of the carving block.
3. Use the V-gouge blade in your linoleum cutter to carve around the outline of your design and to create any fine line cuts. Press lightly so as not to cut too deep – you only need to carve below the surface of the block. Always carve away from yourself to prevent injury. Switch to the U-gouge blade for wider cuts and to remove more surface area. Keep in mind only the raised area of the block that have not been carved away will stamp.
4. Use a craft knife to cut around your stamp. The stamp can be used as is or mounted on a wood block or panel for easier handling.
5. To create a paper koinobori:
- Measure and cut your paper in half to create two 8 1⁄2” x 5 1⁄2” pieces.
- Next ink up your koinobori design by flipping your ink pad upside-down and tap it along the face of your stamp.
- Position your piece of paper horizontally and stamp your design one on the left side of the paper and once on the right.
- Give the ink a moment to dry and then roll the paper into a tube so that the koinobori design is visible on either side and secure with a piece of double-sided tape.
- Complete your wind sock by punching two holes at one end of the tube, directly across from one another. Cut a length of twine, place one end into one of the punched holes and knot it. Tie the center of the twine around the end of the dowel and then place the other end of the twine through the second hole and knot it.
- Your koinobori wind sock is now ready to display!