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 ;)

Heat transfer on Firm Kut
In essence, this is just an older model of the now trusty OZ Kut.  It is ever so slightly off white, but would be otherwise indistinguishable from MZ, NZ, or OZ.  It has a fairly shiny surface and it's generally advised to rough it up a bit to get a better inking - I never got in the habit of this and have nevertheless had good prints.

Size and Weight:
Just like the others, this formulation comes in the same size and weight.  About 6 mm thick.

Works fantastically with heat - look at it there, so even and dark, just lovely.  I have also used acetone and xylene on this just fine.

Crumble Factor:
None, zero, but that is because it is on the very elastic end of the crumble spectrum.
Final carved image - pre-inking

Okay, so it's hard.  Like, harder than I remember.  However, it carves really nicely as well.  With a brand new Xacto blade, I was able to carve the letters quite well.  I wouldn't want to have to carve a big project with the stuff, but for this amount of text, I'm quite happy with how well it came out despite the hand cramps. 

Another issue is how elastic it is: while on the one hand it has no crumble factor, it also means that the pieces that you want to break won't.  You really have to pull pieces out - so I try not to have this happen by being as precise as I can with the cuts (in other words, make sure all my cuts connect underneath so there is no need to have the material break).

Gouge carving is easier, though it is still a hard slog. The lines turn out great though, so it's worth the effort (unlike others).  The texture is plastic-y but smooth, and this material does like to actually be carved.


Aw, look at that - gorgeous.  No beading for me with either Memento or StazOn - I wonder if the heat transfer helps. 


I'll be honest, I felt a little nostalgic carving this stuff - reminded me of my first year after starting to letterbox.  However, I got my vintage fix and I'm happy to finish up this slab so that I can move on to  materials that are more pleasurable to carve.

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