Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Carved in Rubber

Apologies for the light blogging, I've been a bit busy lately. Despite a near-fortnight off work thanks to the fortunate conjunction of public holidays here in England recently, I've been gardening and decorating, and too tired to blog...

Recently I've become interested in another weapon in the stationer's arsenal: the humble rubber stamp. It started off a few years ago when I picked up a cheap self-inking rubber stamp kit from my local branch of Lidl. It is the sort which is a tabula rasa: a blank slate onto which you put your own message. Rather predictably I put my name, address and telephone number on it. I used it a few times, and then put it away in the desk and forgot about it until recently. When I dusted it off the other week, the ink pad had dried out, and my efforts to re-ink it with a bottle from my local unnamed stationers were unsuccessful.

I bought a Colop date stamp from the stationers, but I really wanted an address stamp, so eventually and after much procrastination I ordered one from I used their online stamp designer, and had a traditional rubber stamp made up, the sort which requires a separate ink pad. It's very good indeed and I'm delighted with it. I've already used the new stamp on correspondence and for putting my name and address on various books in my library. I hope you don't mind, but I don't wish to show it here as, even though I don't hide my name on this blog, I don't want my home address plastered all over the internets. Needless to say if I send you a letter or card, you'll see it!

Now that I have my fine new stamp, I was left with a redundant self-inker, albeit one I need to use with the ink pad. What to do? Another recent interest of mine is in mail art and stamping, after stumbling across this website from Fluxus mail artist Ruud Janssen from Breda in the Netherlands, who curates an archive of rubber stamps. With a bit of work in swapping the letters and numbers around, my old stamp could now have a new purpose, and reproduce any slogan I wanted. Again I chose the obvious message, and here it is in all its inky glory:

I suspect I will change it in time, however. One candidate for the space is one of my favourite quotes, from an old Prefab Sprout song, "Couldn't Bear to be Special":

All words are trains for moving past what really has no name

Which fits in nicely with another element of mail art which interests me, that of asemic writing. Whilst writing this post, it struck me that this entire blog post is probably meaningless, a collection of words with no content or message at all. Oh, the futility. But then, I remembered the tabula rasa. So I leave it to you, Dear Reader, to impose your own interpretation on it...


  1. Thanks for this post. I'll have to read up on all your links. Recenlty, my wife and I ordered a few stamps from eBay (about € 8 incl. postage to the UK) - as address stamps and as Ex Libris stamps. They are very nice wooden stamps, not self inking, but with a classic look. The different parts are screwed together (Lexikaliker thought this is not common anymore) and we made some nice stamp designs with some old Dürer font and send them as PDFs. My hunt for a nice stamp pad led me to a nice and cheap metal case Pelikan stamp pad.

  2. Thanks from me as well! I am fond of rubber stamps since I was a child, and after learning that a shop near me makes old-fashioned rubber stamps with wooden handles from PDF and other files I couldn't hold myself back ;-) A friend has taken a photo of these stamps.

  3. Looks like you guys got a better deal than I did; then again, I bought mine from an English company.

    Gunther, I really like those wooden stamps! And Matthias, which eBay sellers did you get yours from? I take it they were advertising on I would be interested to see those designs.

    I'm working on some other stamp ideas and may even carve my own, if I can be bothered.

  4. I am happy to hear that you like the stamps! (I have to admit that I have a few more in a drawer but they aren't blog related.) There is still a trace of childish joy in me when I see an old stamp ;-) I also have a self-inking Colop with contact details but that's just not the same.

    Carving an own stamp must be a challenge!

    And now for something completely different. May I ask you to enable commenting with name and URL? (I assume it is disabled by default.) Even after logging in at Google – which doesn't really makes me happy – I am presented a captcha; now and then I am logged off automatically for some unknown reason and my comment disappears. But of course I don't want to bother with that special request; if it requires too much effort or causes other problems just leave it as it is.

  5. Gunther, I have the setting at "Registered Users - includes OpenID". I will change it to enable anyone - I hope that helps? Because I appreciate your input to this blog. I have also removed the word verification - hopefully this will make the posting process bearable.

  6. I prefer logging in using name/URL, too. It would be nice if Gravatars would work.

    My stamps were from (click on "Holzstempel mit fertigem Text"). The seller does ship to the UK - I paid €3.40 for p&p for two stamps. Stamps start at €3.90.
    You can tell the seller what you want on the stamp and he will do it and send you a PDF to approve or you can send whatever you want as a PDF (in the correct size) as long as the lines don't get too thin.
    The only problem is that the stamps are not labelled, i.e. they don't have the logo printed on the side of the side as in but they do have a "nail" in the handle to indicate how to hold the stamp.

  7. Thank you for your effort and your kind words! Yes, it is much easier now.