Making Rubber Stamp Shelves the Royal Way

As I said in my last post, I'll explain how to make my version of stamp shelves. These shelves are an inexpensive alternative to pre-made shelves, work much better for storing smaller supplies, and totally customizable. They are also mucho easy-o!
Please ignore the curtain rod hanging in the first picture - that is left over from a previous project.
I decided to leave it up so I have a place to hang my art while it dries.


* The amount of foam core and the number of glue sticks depend on the number of shelves you make. It is important to use foam core of medium thickness - too thin and your shelves won't hold up, too thick and it's difficult to cut.

** You'll need either plain card stock or the decoupaged card stock to make the front lip on the shelves. This is important to keep the stamps from falling off the front - especially if your shelves aren't perfectly straight. The stiffer the paper, the better it works.

STEP 1: Decide if you want to make vertical or horizontal shelves. Once that has been decided, take a piece of foam core and mark each side at 1.5" increments either horizontally or vertically. Connect tic marks with pencil so foam core is lined every inch-and-a-half.

STEP 2: Prior to cutting strips of foam core, if you want to decorate the base foam core and/or shelves, this is the time to do it. If not, proceed with cutting the foam core at your pencil marks.

STEP 3: Decide how far apart you want your shelves - whether you want them to hold small or large items. I have a variety of stamps so I did not space my shelves evenly - I just "eye-balled" placement. NOTE: Your edges will look very raggedy and uneven. That's ok as long as no "chunks" are missing.

STEP 4: Carefully place a good-sized bead of glue along the edge of one of the strips you just cut. Place glued-edge perpendicular to sheet of foam core, taking care to line up the strip as straight and even as possible. (This is important so your stamps don't wobble or fall off one side.) I tipped the outside edge (the side not connected to the sheet of foam core) of each strip UP just slightly. This helps to keep the stamps from falling off the front. Repeat until foam core backing is full or you have the desired number of shelves.

STEP 5: Once all strips are attached to the foam core sheet, run a bead of hot glue on the top and bottom seams where the strips of foam core are adhered to the backing sheet of foam core. (Another way to say it: Run a bead of hot glue on the top and bottom of your new shelf where it attaches to the backing.) I used a semi-thick bead so I wasn't limited on the weight of stamps I could place on the shelves.

STEP 6: Cut stiff card stock into 1/2" strips. Beginning at one edge of the first shelf, hot glue a strip of card stock to the front of the shelf, lining up the bottom of the card stock strip with the bottom edge of the shelf. (The bottom of the shelf should be level with the strip of card stock and there should be an overhang - or lip - on the top.) If card stock strip is not long enough to cover length of shelf, slightly overlap next card stock strip to end of previous strip. This stiffened card stock serves two purposes: it keeps the stamps from falling off the front AND it covers up the ugly raggedness left from cutting the strips.

STEP 7: Using screws, attach to wall. Placing one screw in each corner and one in the middle should stabilize the shelves enough that you won't have to worry about it falling.

Using this process to make several shelves, I haven't had any issues with stamps falling down or the shelves coming apart. It seems that the shelves are pretty strong (relatively speaking) and could hold much more weight than the stamps I have loaded up on them.

If you wanted to store a few ink pads on some of the shelves, cut the strips of foam core wider than 1.5". Be careful not to try to make them too wide or the strength of the shelf will be compromised.
This is the best method for stamp storage I've come across.

I used to rely on a three-ring binder where I stamped every image on a sheet of paper. This was time consuming and never worked right since I'd run out of room for a particular category and just stamp the image at the end. The categories were totally disorganized and incomplete. I also had to remember to stamp every new image I got - and then wash each stamp.

These shelves are much less expensive than bins or regular shelving units; I can decorate them to match my studio and I can easily make more when I need more room. I can also customize the sizes of the shelves so I have exactly what I want. Having them visible on these shelves saves me tons of room, allows me to choose exactly what I want at a glance, stops me from purchasing duplicate stamps, saves me time since I don't have to dig through numerous huge bins and means I also save time by not having to stamp and wash every new stamp. I wish I had thought of this method years ago!

As always, if you have any questions or something doesn't make sense, please leave me a comment and I'll be more than happy to address it. I hope this helps some of you!

Storing Stamp Pads & Stamps

In one of the art groups I belong to (Art Group Newbies), we've been talking about ink pads. Imagine - some of the girls found it odd that I have over 100 stamp pads. It sounds completely normal to me...but then I am supply obsessed! (Hence the formation of pARTs-a-la-cARTe!)

I said I would show the SugarLoaf caddy. It's a great little idea - it has 30 nice-sized Whispers permanent, waterproof dye-based ink pads (in a fantastic array of colors) and 15 Whispers Strokes (markers to color stamps) - all contained in a compact little locking case. The case has a drawer on the bottom that stores the markers - and it slides out on either side. A fantastic invention! (Note: When I purchased the caddy it came with the 15 Whispers Strokes. The SugarLoaf website now says the caddy comes with "A Complete See-D's Alphabet Set and SeeClear Block".)

Fifteen Whispers ink pads sit on one side and fifteen fit on the other side. There is a drawer on the bottom to hold markers, stamps, etc. This drawer is accessible from either side of the caddy. Each side has a locking arm mechanism with a snap-lock closure on the top, securing the contents of the caddy really well while still offering easy, one-handed access.

The rest of my ink pads are stored in a large translucent bin that has handles for portability (not that I go anywhere). The bin holds about 40-50 stamp pads, depending on how neat I am when I put them away. The ink pads I use the most are stored in drawers that I can get to easily. Another small bin holds my small cube pigment pads.

I've tried storing ink pads and rubber stamps in stackable baskets - but that did not work. At all. Everything ended up a mess, lids came off stamp pads and dust accumulated way too fast. (I hate to dust and believe you should avoid it if at all possible!)

Another topic I brought up in Art Group Newbies* (which, by the way, is a fantastic group for novice and experienced artists alike) is stamp storage. I battle with storage and organization issues on a constant basis - the townhouse the childebeasts and I live in is a good size but we are bursting at the seams - which means I have to come up with creative storage ideas. I am not good at this - which explains why my supplies are all over the place.

I can't remember if I already posted about my shelves or not - and frankly, it's a hot Saturday afternoon and I'm just too lazy to go look. Since I was talking about the shelves, I'll go ahead and write about them here. If I've already done a post about them then just consider yourself twice as edumacated.

I have always stored my 700+ rubber stamps in really long, clear bins purchased at the Container Store. I also tried the stacking baskets for a short, unsuccessful time. (See issues above.) Storing all these stamps in the long bins makes it very difficult to find particular stamps. For a long time I just didn't use my stamps because of the problems associated with locating a specific one. That wasn't a feasible solution either. I finally ordered 25 sheets of foam core board because I was going to cover them in fabric and make one wall a bulletin board of sorts. They took so long to arrive (well over a month) that I changed my mind before receiving them and decided to make stamp shelves. I will explain how I made them in the next post...but for now you can see the final result.

This is only one small section of the shelves I made - I will post a wider picture in the post describing how to make them. I like these shelves for several reasons:

  • You get to decide on the shelf spacing when you make them
  • You can make them whatever color suits your decor - or decorate anyway you like
  • You can use the foam core to make vertical or horizontal shelves
  • Very cost effective
  • Easy to clean
When I was looking at different storage ideas, one problem I kept running into is that most shelving is far too big for stamps - not to mention expensive. It is easy to make 20 of these shelf sets for less than the cost of one regular shelf.

I hope this inspires you to find new ways to organize your stamps and ink pads. I am trying very hard to only purchase unmounted stamps from now on. If you are new to stamping, UM stamps is the way to go. They are much cheaper and take up far less space.

Now, either go rearrange your stamp/ink pad storage or go make something!

* If you are interested in joining Art Group Newbies, more information can be found here. For more information on pARTs-a-la-cARTe, click the "Yahoo Groups" link on the right side of this blog or on the group name above.

A Very Talented Friend

My mailbox was singing and smiling today - and it wasn't only because my friend Susan T sent me some delicious glue sticks. No - the beautiful glue sticks alone would have made my mailbox sing a sweet tune of "comeandGEEETTIIIITTT!!" - but there was something even more incredible than the glue sticks awaiting me. Something so astounding, beautiful and just plain magnificent that I can hardly stop gushing about it!

All Susan said she was sending was glue sticks - which I was beyond grateful to receive. She tricked me and included the most incredible ATC I've ever seen.

I have never had someone else's ATC in hand - only my own. I've never had the honor of owning a beautiful piece of art from someone else - especially not from someone who is talented and creative. Susan changed that all at once today!

I am totally in love with her magnanimous gift. I am so grateful that I get choked up every time I look at it. Susan definitely has class - not only is this a wonderful ATC with a very sweet message on the back, it arrived in a classy sleeve. The ATC is trimmed in black and so nicely finished - definitely professional and regal. Thank you so much Susan - I absolutely love it and your beautiful work will hold a very special place on my shelf (and in my heart). You are so sweet - thank you!!

And just for the record, I chose Susan's blog as the Eye Candy Extraordinaire in pARTs-a-la-cARTe. Do I know my stuff or what?!

Budding Artist

Today is all about being a proud mama - which, if you keep up with my life at all you know I deserve.

The school year is winding down so the school is sending home work the students have done throughout the year. This is especially true with the fifth graders because they will embark on their middle school career after the summer. Alex - who just turned 11 last week - brought home his artwork today...and I'm trying to contain a little of my amazing pride and excitement as I write this. All three of my kids are artistic - even if they don't particularly place great importance on their creative skills. However, at various times throughout the year my two youngest will come home with unbridled excitement about the projects they are working on in art. I never get to see any of these projects throughout the year unless I'm lucky enough to happen upon one of their masterpieces in the school hallway. So the end of the school year is a mixed bag - the excitement to see what the kids have accomplished throughout the year combined with the sheer terror that they'll be home for a couple of months.

Alex brought home his artwork today - and I am utterly impressed! He is such a talented young man - even though he tries to hide his talent under a dark cover, it's impossible. I am so proud of him - this is the one area where one of my children is following in my footsteps. Can you just hear me gushing??

He brought home three pieces. The first is a self-portrait he did from a school photo of himself. Since I am unable to draw a stick figure with a ruler and a compass, I am both proud and envious. I think he did a superb job!

This next piece is a sun embossed on a copper sheet and antiqued with India ink. I love this - the texture is incredible. This picture does not do the original work justice - it's just beautiful in person.

And lastly, my favorite. His mask. It's paper mache and it's an imprint of his face. I remember his excitement when they constructed the masks in class. He painted the paper mache with acrylic paints and added rhinestones and "hair". He modeled the design after Ray Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero, his two favorite wrestlers. I am completely astonished with his mask - looking at it is total eye candy. I'm so impressed with my talented son!

Mother's Day - Part II

I got the funniest e-card from my aunt today. I thought I had seen some comical cards online - but this one takes the cake. I just have to include the link so you can check it out. I think whoever wrote the card actually knows my childebeats. I hope you're enjoying your day and that your kids have spoiled you!

Mother's Day card

Happy Mother's Day!

Today is supposed to be a beautiful day - sunny, warm and no rain. I don't know what the kids are planning for today - I know there was talk of going swimming after church this morning. We'll see. My mom doesn't live too far away and the kids spent the night at her house last night. It was a Mother's Day present and I have to admit, it rocked! It's been so nice to have a quiet house.

I've been searching the Internet for inspiration to begin carving my own stamps. I've got so many stamps that I don't need any more - but my style has changed and I really want to have some stamps with more of a textural feel to them. I've received several links to different places selling what I'm looking for - but I've decided to try carving my own before buying some. I love the idea of totally creating some art - from the stamps to the paint colors. That's what I'd like to spend the day doing but I suppose the kids have a little say in the final decision.

I hope all the mom's have a wonderful day and are well pampered. Make sure you take some time to spend with your mom - and do something nice for yourself!

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