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!

I ended up buying this at AboveGround Art Supplies in Toronto and the stuff was quite inexpensive.  About $8 for a 6x8" sheet (Canadian dollars, obv.).

My first thought was that there was going to be no way for me to properly carve this stuff (spoiler alert: I was right).  It feels like realllly thick plastic sheeting.  In fact, I'm sure I've seen this stuff somewhere else in some other context put to some other purpose, but I can't figure out for the life of me where I've seen it...


I mean, well, it's clear.  Completely see-through, no cloudiness or anything.  It's fairly thin, just under 3 mm thick, and comes in a number of sizes. There's a Jack Richeson sticker (also clear) on the front.

Size and Weight:



Attempted heat transfer
Heat transfers don't work... Neither do acetone...

Attempted acetone transfer
So instead, I did what the manufacturer intended: I put the image I wanted to carve under the material.  But since I carve holding the piece in my hand, I actually taped it to the back (did you immediately think of the problem inherent with that? Don't worry, I didn't either -- read on to see the problem).

Crumble Factor:

None.  This is truly just a thick plastic, there is nothing to crumble.


Brutal.  Because of the thickness of the material, the image shifts as your eyes move in relation to the material - think of how light bends across water.  Really difficult to carve with a gouge, impossible with a knife.

Here it is carved in the animated image to the right, see how the image doubles and shifts depending on how you look at it?

In the end, the "stamp" looks only slightly like the image I was using, despite carving with best efforts. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


It's so plastic-y that the ink beads up.  I didn't get a great impression with the Memento or the StazOn, so I tried the VersaMagic as well.  It was okay, I suppose, but check out that awesome reversed text! Oops.


Yeah, no.  This might be good for a lino style print, or if it's not important to get an exact image.  But essentially, for what I carve, this stuff doesn't have much purpose.

P.S. guys, I just keep accumulating carving materials. If you are looking for a review of one I haven't done before, leave a comment - if you think you know of a material that I don't have, let me know too.


  1. Yeah no sums it up! I tried this last year and it was just as horrible as you described. No transfers, impossible to see what you are doing, and very difficult to carve. I'm impressed that you finished a stamp!

    1. Ugh. I didn't want to finish it. I kinda phoned in the text. You can sort of see at the letter T where I started with the knife, but anywhere you slice into it becomes opaque white so you can't see anymore.

      I also have the Blum clear stuff to review. It is still in the package, but looks suspiciously identical to this JR clear stuff... :(

  2. Hi, great review posts! I'm always looking forward to the next test :D
    I'm curious about your transferring methods, could you sneak in a tutorial about heat transferring, perhaps?

    1. Next one coming soon! At this point, I'm acquiring new kinds of carving material faster than I posting reviews!

      I'll definitely try to sneak a heat transfer tutorial in for you... It may be a little delayed, but stay tuned :)

  3. I bought one of these out of curiosity and am currently hating it... found your review, glad to see im not the only one... im in so much pain my gouge is POWERLESS against this monster.

  4. Er, well, these are printmaking materials. If you are using "stamp" ink, then of course it won't work. I'm using Akua Intaglio ink and it works fine. As far as carving goes, it's just like any perspective problem, you need to keep your line of sight consistent. Carve in one direction, away from you, and turn the plate and you will be able to carve what you see underneath.

  5. Does anyone know exactly what this is made of? I want to try it on laser engraver/cutter but need to know if it will be toxic when burned.