In my last post I showed you how guests made foam stamps in our last public art project and promised I’d show you how we made stamp pads for the entire studio. So first, the how, then, the why:
Start with some upholstery foam. Sold by the yard at fabric stores, and sometimes in packages at craft stores, it’s worth the effort to find a coupon if you’re going to purchase a lot. It doesn’t need to be super-dense or thick, maybe 1/2″ or 3/4″.
Hot-glue a piece of upholstery foam (or sponge) to a plastic plate or polystyrene foam tray. The tray should be just larger than the foam, and the foam should be just larger than the stamps you will use.
Use a plastic spoon, palette knife or spatula to smear tempera or other water-based soluble paint into the upholstery foam. The first time you load the pad, it will take a fair amount of paint. Now its ready to use. Easy, right?
If you plan to use the stamp pad the next day, just slip it into a zippered bag to keep moist. Let it air dry (with the paint on) if you won’t be using it again within a few days. Too long in the bag and it gets moldy. Spritz with water and add more paint when you’re ready to use it again.
If you’ve been to the studio you know we offer a specific selection of materials to explore, and we arrange multiple sets of those materials around the room so they are available to whomever stops in to experiment. When we include stamp pads in our projects we make them the same color across the entire room. Usually that’s so they don’t all end up turning brownish-black from the stamps traveling around the room. With this last project is was also so that the activity focus could be more on shape and pattern than on color, though we did also offered colored pencils so that color could be introduced to the papers through drawing.
We’ve used traditional black ink stamp pads in public art projects before, but we find they work best for smaller, rubber stamps. They aren’t ideal for our large, handled stamps. They also make parents of very young children nervous with all their blackness and permanence. Kids do love black, but that’s a post for another time.