Monday, July 18, 2016

Carving, carving, carving... {SPOILERS}

Ahoy!  I've been having a great, but busy, summer so far and I'm really looking forward to the end of August because I've got some time off and am doing a staycation.  Need to get out there and do some letterboxing during that time,  methinks ;)

One of the things I've been working on is helping Bon Echo with some stamps for Box ON! Stoney Creek. {You should come!  For anyone reading this who doesn't know where Stoney Creek is, it's just a short drive from the US border if anyone wanted to make the trek}  And one of the stamps I just finished is the event stamp...  Read on if you don't mind being spoiled ;)

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Carving Material Review: Daiso's Eraser Stamp

This carving material review post comes once again from the lovely people in Japan, who clearly know what they're about when it comes to stamp carving.

I stumbled across this particular carving medium while searching broadly for any kind of carving material that might be out there in the world.

Daiso itself is a fairly popular 100 yen store and has brick and mortar shops in Asia, as well as Australia and the west coast of the US.  They also have an online presence for the US here. In essence, they are a dollar store which happened to carry a Daiso-branded carving eraser material.  I mean, how good could it be? My expectations were quite low for this stuff, but I did want to try it for the purposes of this blog.

You won't find this stuff for sale online in their web store.  If you Google "Daiso eraser stamp" you'll find some great English blogs talking about stamp carving and such, but you'll notice they just drop off around 2013.  I *think* this was a temporary offering by Daiso, and I believe they discontinued it sometime around that period.

Having said that, slabs still exist, but they are hard to find and will slowly disappear.  This obviously has a consequence for trying to get this stuff.  So, originally, at 100 yen, you're looking at a cost of C$1.24 or U$0.95.  Keep in mind, the block is not 4x6", rather about half that size.  However, at that price it's pretty great!  Things are never so simple though: because it's no longer being made, you will only find this by resellers and you need to pay for shipping.  As of writing this, I could not find any on eBay and the only people selling it are on Etsy, at around C$5 per slab plus shipping.  Um. Yeah.

Is it worth it?

Friday, July 15, 2016

Carving Material Review: Butter Kut from Stampeaz

Butter Kut from Stampeaz
By popular request, my next review is of Butter Kut, a material that appears on Stampeaz.  I'm not clear if Stampeaz makes it or if they just carry it as part of their offerings, like Speedy Carve.

(If you want a particular medium reviewed, feel free to send me an email or put it in the comments below - otherwise, I'll just keep going through the materials as I pull them out of my drawer.)

The price isn't too bad for the size of the sheet, although I'm skewed because of the shipping charges.  But heck, I'm a hussy for carving mediums, I'll try anything ;)

My first thought when it arrived was to be taken aback at how thin it is.  I'm so used to all of the other white materials that come out of Stampeaz's shop, that it never occurred to me that it would be any different...  On to the review!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Carving Material Review: Unnamed Chinese Carving Material (SLQ)

Solid coloured carving material
So, this continues a series of posts on all of the different carving materials I can find that can be used for stamp carving.  If you want to see how each stacks up against the other, you can check out this comparison chart.

Like the sandwich-style material, this slab comes from China with no real explanation of who makes it or any other sort of brand info.  If you're a letterboxer, you may have seen on the AQ forums this referred to as SLQ, referring to the Etsy/eBay name of a user that was initially selling it, SweetLoveQiner.

To be honest, having searched the breadth and depths of various sites for importing this kind of thing from Asia, I think both this and all the other similar solid colour listings each come from the same factory and are essentially the same.  Same goes for the sandwich style stuff.  I haven't been finding great prices, but if I do, I will definitely be buying...  cuz this stuff is great.

Either this is close scrutiny or napping.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Carving Material Review: Firm Kut by Stampeaz

Firm Kut by Stampeaz
Back to a real stamp carving material, fingers intact.

If you're not familiar, Firm Kut is actually a carving material that came into existence just after I started carving.  I never did get to try either of the PZ Kut materials, which disappeared before I started carving, but Firm Kut is (was?) Stampeaz's first foray into trying to recreate the material that everyone seemed to love.

Now, right off the bat, there were concerns that this first formulation was too hard to carve.  If my recollection is correct, that is how it took on the name of "Firm".

I remember agreeing that it was too hard, and was happy when Stampeaz came out with its next formulations (MZ Kut, then NZ Kut), so I gave this one up quite quickly.  I ordered this slab a couple months ago for the specific purpose of including it in my reviews, but going back to the Stampeaz site, it looks like it may have gone way of the dodo.  The cost was comparable to the other Stampeaz house forumlations, but other than for the purpose of this review, I wouldn't try to track any down ;)

Monday, July 4, 2016

Friday, July 1, 2016

Carving Material Review: Moo Carve by NCTC Inc.

Moo Carve carving material
Happy Canada Day! Just a reminder: for all of my carving material review posts, I've been adding all of the results in a summary format - and ranked in terms of my preference - in the "Stamp Carving Material Comparison" link on the right side of my page.

My next review is finally of the Moo Carve that has been sitting on my desk for a while.  This Korean carving material has some pretty nice reviews online, but one that alarmed me: that it was just like Staedtler's now-discontinued Mastercarve.  I couldn't stand that stuff, it was like carving a big stale marshmallow.  Ick.  As a result, I've never actually used this stuff before.

Unlike some of the other carving material from Asia, this one is actually fairly available in North America.  You can buy this at some US-based craft or art supply places, and pretty frequently it is available on Amazon or other places online.  Having said that, I think the cost has already been built in, because this stuff is fairly pricey.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Carving Material Review: Studioworks Easy-Cut Lino

Above Ground - Easy-Cut Lino
It's time for yet another thin-type of carving material, this time locally sourced at Above Ground Art Suppies in Toronto.  If this is your first time seeing one of my carving material reviews, click on the link to the right for a spreadsheet of all of a summary the materials I've reviewed with links to the full review.

I found this new material at Above Ground when I was wandering the city with my sister.  The cost per sheet of this was fairly low - and because there's no shipping cost because it is locally available, it's quite inexpensive to use.

My first thought was that this stuff was going to be just like the DeSerres dark grey or the Dick Blick blue material, given that it appeared to be the same thickness.  I couldn't feel the material because of its packaging, but it's a vibrant green that was begging to be picked up...

So, how did it fare?

Monday, June 6, 2016

Carving Material Review: Speedy-Cut Easy by Speedball

Speedy-Cut Easy by Speedball
I had been warned.  I knew it would be bad... But I could never have appreciated how bad until I got my hands on this blue stuff

The cost was fairly average, again being unbalanced by the shipping costs to bring it up to Canada across the border.  I'm sure some craft or art supply store is carrying this stuff, but I won't be hunting that shop down to buy this stuff.

Speedball: you have such an opportunity and almost a cornered market in North America.  Why oh why would you do this to us? Why?

Monday, May 30, 2016

Carving Material Review: Oz Kut by Stampeaz

Transfer using hot iron on OZ Kut
 I considered not actually doing a review of this material since this blog is essentially an endless series of posts of carving with it.  But, I decided to include it out of fairness and out of my compulsive need to have things be symmetrical.

If somehow you don't know, OZ Kut is the current reincarnation of the long passed PZ Kut, on offer from a fellow letterboxer at the US-based Stampeaz. Not affiliated with her or Stampeaz in any way, but I'm not aware of any other places dedicated to stamp-making like her shop is and she is lovely to order from, with excellent service (given all my quirky asks to try to get the carving material to Canada as cheaply as possible).

The cost for the material is relatively inexpensive - before shipping, of course.  For anyone reading from the US of A - you are very lucky and privileged to have such an inexpensive postal system.  And no risk of customs/duties at the border. Sigh. You are truly living the dream.

Anyway, there is massive benefit in having a fellow letterboxer be involved in the carving material creation process, this stuff is all-around great...

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Carving Material Review: Speedball Speedy Carve (2013)

Speedball Speedy Carve (2013 formulation)
So, Speedball Speedy Carve.  The ubiquitous "pink stuff".  If you've ever carved a stamp in North America, you have probably been pushed in the direction of this material.  In fact, all over this blog you'll find pink stuff.  The tricky part is that even in the seven years that I've been carving, there have been three different formulations of this material.  The stuff that I originally started carving with was great, all purpose stuff.  And I think that's pretty much the case now - it's good all purpose stamp carving material. 

However, the newest formulation (noted by the 2013 date on the label) is yet another step away from the original material that I liked so much.  The 2012 version (if it can still be found anywhere) was more brittle and crumbly - with a slightly lighter colour.  I believe the original stuff I used was 2009...

Cost-wise, this is pretty middle of the road and highly dependant on where you bought it.  By fluke, I found a 12" x 12" slab of the stuff (I've never seen that size in the wild!) and the price per square inch worked out quite nicely.

Again, this blog is littered with my thoughts about this material, but for posterity (and to be able to include it in my comparison table), here is the review for Speedy Carve.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Carving Material Review: LifeMaster Crystal Block

LifeMaster Crystal Block
So, bumbling my way through the internets looking for carving materials (to further update my comparison table), I came across a cool-looking set of carving materials called LifeMaster Crystal Blocks. I tried to find anywhere where someone has tried using this stuff and couldn't find reference to it anywhere.

Cost-wise, even though this had free shipping from where I bought it, it was pretty pricey and probably in the top five in terms of cost. Hopefully I like it!

My first thoughts when they came in the mail were pretty positive.  The set of 10 blocks were all various colours and came in individual packets and felt great...

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Carving Material Review: Hankeshi-Kun

Okay, so if you live in the San Antonio area, beware that this stamp image is a big ol' spoiler (to be planted and listed soon!).  So if you want to avoid such things, you have a major decision to make: read this post or go stamp hunting.  Choices, choices.

Hankeshi-Kun Stamp Carving Dedicated Eraser

Today's carving material is made by Hinodewashi and is called Hankeshi-Kun, noted very specifically in English as a "Top Quality Stamp-Carving Dedicated Eraser". While both this and the SEED carving material are from Japan, this one is actually also made in Japan (SEED is noted as being made in Vietnam).

Like the SEED material, this slab was reasonably priced until you factor in the shipping - then it tops the charts in cost.  So you either really want to try this out or are in other ways motivated to buy this. 

My first thought was that it looked remarkably like the SEED brand material... Is it the same? Are they on equal in the eyes of my knife? Let's find out!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Carving Material Review: Unnamed Chinese Layered Carving Material - "Sandwich"

Welcome back for another round of: what's that carving slab? Heh.  I mean, what actually is this material? I don't know.  I'm not sure who makes it or what they call it, but it's sort of all over the place online.  It comes in a whole rainbow of colours, and is sandwiched so you're getting two different colours at a time.  So, pretty much from this point forward, I will be referring to this stuff as the sandwich material.

(I note here that this is *not* the same material referred to on the AQ forums as "SLQ" which is not layered at all...)

Ultimately the cost was fairly low - these 4x6" slabs were each under $5 (Canadian) including shipping {update: not anymore... quite expensive now due to shipping :( }.  Keep in mind that they also took two solid months to arrive after being shipped from China.

My first thought was not exactly favourable.  The material - though pretty - was really uneven and had a weird wet feeling to hold...

Want to see how this carves? Check it out after the jump!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Carving Material Review: Clear Carve

So, I was intrigued when I saw this online and figured that I should give it a try given how inexpensive it was.  The material for review today: Jack Richeson's Clear Carve.

Jack Richeson - Clear Carve stamp carving material

I'd like to be clear (get it?): although this looks like it would be problematic, this stuff specifically advertises itself as "great for block prints, etching and stamp making".  But it's clear - how the heck do you carve this stuff?

Read on!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Carving Material Review: Soft-Kut

Soft Kut carving block
So this was one of many different carving materials that I bought from Dick Blick.  The cost for the block was very reasonable, so I added it to my list.

My first thoughts about this material are: ew, gross.  It's floppy and feels like compressed marshmallow.  Very floppy and yet its texture made me think of Speedy Cut and so I had very low hopes.  While it's not my favourite carving medium, it's certainly decent and workable... Read on for more!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Carving Material Review: Dark Grey from DeSerres

Okay, so this is another review for a carving material that I first started using a few years ago.  This stuff doesn't have a name or any other info on it, but it's a softer lino that I've been able to use for stamps before (somewhere in the history of this blog you'll find a post about the first time I used it... wait, that was FOUR YEARS ago?!)

The upshot of this material is that it is inexpensive.  A fairly large sheet (it's really more of a sheet than a slab) is only about $8.  And it's in store, so no shipping.  (I pick this stuff up at DeSerres in the linocut area, they don't seem to sell any of this stuff online.)

Monday, March 28, 2016

Carving Material Review: SEED Horunavi

Hello and welcome back for another review, yay! (I would note that since my last post, I now have even more carving materials in my possession to review... this may be the never-ending set of reviews...)

So, I splurged and actually bought some carving material from Japan made by a company called SEED. (If you go to their website, it looks like they make erasers and things like that as well, and I'm charmed that they put as the title for their product category "Curving Erasers".)

SEED Horunavi carving blocks - yellow at the top, two other packages underneath

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Carving Material Review: Blick Blue Easy-To-Cut

Hello and welcome back for another review, yay! (I would note that since my last post, I now have at least three more carving materials in my possession to review... this may be the never-ending set of reviews...)

Since the last review was of a Dick Blick material, I decided to go ahead and try the other Dick Blick branded material for the next review, called Blick Blue Easy-To Cut (henceforth to be referred to as Blick Blue - as opposed to the "blue stuff" that Speedball makes).  It's really inexpensive - Dick Blick sells this for $1.84 USD for a 4x6" sheet.

 (Spoiler: having now used it, I love it.  Not my #1, but definitely up there.)

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Carving Material Review: Dick Blick's Printmaking Block

Dick Blick Printmaking Blocks

So this is the first review in a series of posts that I'm doing on all the various kinds of material out there that you can use to make stamps. The first medium was chosen based on its proximity in the pile.  Yep.

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Ultimate Carving Material Guide is coming!!

OMG guise! Guise... GUYS!  You should see my craft desk.  It's amazing.  It's beautiful.  It's covered, just absolutely covered... in carving material.  All amounts, all sizes, all colours of the rainbow (not really, but more colours than usual).

Since I have been going through carving material a lot more than usual, I have put orders in for a whole bunch of different types of carving materials which have slowly been coming in.  My desk is just about covered in carving material (it's beautiful) and I'm a little teary over here.

So here is the plan: although some of these I've carved before, many are completely new to me.  COMPLETELY NEW! I'm so excited, I can barely contain my carving knives.  I need to come up with a design that I am going to carve in each of the mediums, and then report back - all scientific like - and let you know what I think.  The problem with other online reviews is that they are usually about one or two carving mediums and you have no idea if the person has actually compared the carve with other mediums...

Thirteen (13) different carving materials.
See that photo? See it! That's what I have so far.  Starting with the pink stuff I have in the bottom middle, here's what I have going sorta clockwise around the photo:
  • Speedy Carve (2013) by Speedball
  • Speedy Cut Easy by Speedball
  • Soft Kut Print Block by ???
  • Clear Carve Lino by Richeson
  • very dark grey lino from DeSerres
  • Softoleum from Above Ground
  • Speedy Carve (2009) by Speedball
  • EZ Cut by Dick Blick
  • Clear Printmaking Blocks by Blum
  • Blue Easy-To-Cut by Dick Blick
  • Moo Carve by NCTC Inc.
  • OZ Kut by Stampeaz
  • OZ Kut - B by Stampeaz
 Aren't they beautiful? Aren't you jealous?

Okay, missing from this stash: Speedball's Speedy Cut (*vomits a little in mouth*), MasterCarve (which I believe has been discontinued), other Stampeaz formulations (are they all gone now? Just OZ?), and the few different types of carving material that I see from asia (some of which the AQ Boards refer to as SLQ). Am I missing anything?

I'm thinking I might actually order any of the remaining types of carving materials out there just so I can round out the set so that I can do an epic, comprehensive and charted review and comparison.  Love it.

Okay, so off the top, here are the things I am going to report back on:
  • Price per square inch
  • Thickness, in mm
  • Floppiness
  • Crumbliness 
  • Transferability
  • Ease of slice - gouge and knife
  • How well it holds fine detail
  • How well it inks - various inks
  • How well it prints large negative areas
  • How well it holds up after washing/scrubbing
  • Each medium's super power
  • Best uses
Am I missing any factors you'd like to have feedback on?  Email me or comment below - I'm happy to add other characteristics to the matrix if anyone has any particular factors they consider.

Happy carving!