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?
|Front - Click to enlarge.|
Like the other Japanese carving materials, this stuff comes in a bright colourful package with, well, actually quite a bit of English on it, including some fairly decent carving directions on the back.
|Back - Click to enlarge.|
I've included photos of the front and back here so that you can see/read all of those details, they can be enlarged by clicking on them.
The material actually has three layers like the Chinese sandwich blocks do, however, this one has three different colours, and bright blue and a bright yellow on the outside, white in the middle.
The packaging helpfully says that you can carve either side of the block, but also says that "color changes when you rub" which I think is just a bad translation to mean that the colour changes when you carve it (no amount of rubbing changed the colour for me).
The slab itself feels much nicer than I thought it would, having been specifically been advertised as an "eraser" stamp (which I wrongly assumed to mean that it would be more eraser-like and pill). Instead, this has a shiny/velvety feel that is quite nice and doesn't pill. The material is fairly flexible, but not floppy.
Size and Weight:
Okay, so the width is about 6 mm, so in and around the usual widths for carving slabs - just thick enough to use unmounted, but a good thickness if you choose to mount it later.
|Transfer using heat|
Perfect heat transfer. At this point, my heart awakened and started to take notice...
None, rubbing this resulted in no pilling, and once carved, no crumbling whatsoever.
(As an aside: I'm glad no one is around when I'm testing this, cuz I sit there rubbing and otherwise massaging my stamps which just seems like serial-killer behavior to me.)
The only way I can describe the carving experience is that I think this must be stuff that is made by Seed and rebranded. Although thinner, the formulation seems so close to that of the Seed block.
Knife carving the text was an absolute delight. The knife only needed gentle pressure, the rubber wanted to be carved. The knife followed the lines perfectly. My biggest problem with Speedy Carve is that even with a brand new knife, the rubber wiggles around as you're carving it - but not this stuff. No, the block stays exactly where it is and practically welcomes the blade with open arms.
In fact, see the pillars in the Petra design? Typically, I would need to use a different knife maneuver to make each slice along the length of the cut because once you cut one side, the other typically starts wiggling and bunching. But this stuff didn't. This stuff was magical to carve.
The gouge experience was just the same. Loved it.
Now, maybe this stuff would fall flat when inking. C'mon! They're selling it for a dollar! It can't be this good! Wrong... Look at those positive areas! The ink, so even and smooth... Not blotchy or missing... Gawd.
|Click to enlarge|
I really, really like this stuff, and if it were possible to get it at the original price point here it Canada, I'd make a hard switch. However, because it isn't and it is hard to find, it's somehow actually *more* expensive than Seed's carving blocks when you factor in shipping and the reseller's markup.
So, in the intro, I know I said the material has been discontinued, which I do believe to be true.
It would appear however, from the Japan Eraser Stamp Creators Association (JESCA), that a new version of the eraser stamp has already been released or will soon be released that is the full postcard size (4x6"). You can check that post here. Unfortunately, the post also notes that the old version was made in Japan, but the new stuff is to be made in China - so the actual formulation may end up being different. So, if any readers are in the California area where the Daiso stores are, I'd love to know if you're able to find these in store :)
|From JESCA - perhaps a new Daiso Eraser Stamp slab will be available soon - old on left, new on right?|