I've been wanting to try carving my own rubber stamps for a while now. I bought the Speedball Speedy Carve stamp kit months ago, but I was afraid to actually try it. I thought it would be hard to do and I didn't want to "waste" the carving material by making mistakes.
Finally, I got brave and just decided to do it. I designed a really simple shape of a butterfly silhouette, transferred it to the carving material by covering the back of my image with graphite and tracing over the top of it, then I got down to carving (this image is bigger than actual size; the actual stamp is just under 1" tall). Update: I actually read the instructions that came with the kit today and the easier way to transfer is draw with graphite over JUST the image area, not over the entire back of your image (you can draw on the back using a light box or window to see the image on the front of the paper, or over the front, if you flip your image first), place it graphite-side down on the stamp material and rub it with the surface of your fingernail to transfer the graphite to the stamp material. This results in a more exact and complete transfer than tracing over the front.
It was actually a lot easier than I expected, but the carving tips in the kit weren't quite small enough so I went back to the store (with my weekly 40% off coupon) and bought an assortment of cutting tips, that also came with an easier to use handle that doubles as storage for the tips. Once I had the smaller tips, I was able to carve the tiny space around the antennae and into all the little corners.
Now I was ready to stamp!
I bought a Colorbox ink pad after seeing it recommended on Geninne's Art Blog (check it out if you haven't seen it, she makes the most beautiful stamps) and although I really liked the viscosity and opacity of the ink, I was looking for a particular shade of pink and the color wasn't quite right. I ended up making my own temporary pad by applying acrylic craft paint to a sponge brush and using that to "ink" my stamp.
I'm really pleased with it, especially considering it's my very first stamp, so much so that I made it the centerpiece of this little mixed-media paper brooch. I have a couple more designs (an apple and an acorn) I'm drawing up now; I'll post photos when they're done.