As much as we love [[s89|rubber stamps]], and as many great designs as there are available, sometimes we like the idea of coming up with a card design completely from scratch.
One of the best ways we've found to create really unique designs is by stamping with things other than stamps. Experimenting with different items gives free reign to your creativity and can result in some great new ideas for your projects - better still, it costs next to nothing!
There's no need to restrict yourself when you have a go at this - as long as an object has some sort of texture, and you don't mind covering it with ink, you can stamp with it.
With larger objects, you can simply ink them up and stamp them, but with smaller things like coins and buttons, it's easier to use an [[http://www.handyhippo.co.uk/search.php?q=acrylicblock acrylic block]] and [[p2951|Tack N Peel sheets]] to stick the object to the block.
Here are a few ideas you can try:
Coins are perfect because they are nice and small, and have well-defined engraved designs. You can either go for traditional, using metallic inks or embossing powders, or use brightly coloured inks to create something a bit more unusual and Andy Warhol-esque!
Stamping with leaves is a great way to create cards and projects that reflect a particular season. You can use leaf skeletons with black or metallic inks to create a winter/Christmas feel, or whole leaves with red/orange inks for autumn, and green for summer and spring.
Really effective for creating backgrounds, and very simple to stamp. All you do is rub your chosen ink pad over the bubble wrap, lay your paper or card on top and run your hand over it to smooth it down (being careful not to shift it). You'll be left with a superb repeated circle pattern. Because the ink tends to transfer to the page unevenly with this technique, it results in a great distressed effect.
The beauty of shells is that they come in so many different shapes and sizes, and are so architectural they look as if they've been manufactured especially for crafting! They are absolutely perfect for stamping with sea blues and greens to add authentic detail to seaside themed cards and projects.
Twigs can be used to create an autumnal feel with brown ink, or a winter or Christmas theme with metallic, white or black ink. Many twigs can be used to stamp whole tree silhouettes, if you choose ones with lots of detail.
The flatter the twigs, the better they are for stamping, so remove any side shoots that stick up or down too much, to leave you with a nice flat twig, ink it up and then stamp it. It can be tricky to get a good result, so it's a good idea to do a practice run with your chosen twig on scrap paper to make sure it stamps well before using it on good quality paper or card.
There's a good chance you might have tried this one at school. It is only really practical for stamping fairly simple shapes, but does them brilliantly well. Cut the potato in half, then either press a cookie cutter into the potato and use a craft knife to carve out the raised shape, or draw a design freehand and carve it out. Then simply dip it into paint or cover with ink, and stamp.
Erasers are very popular for their carvability. You can either use a large normal eraser or a special art gum eraser. Art gum erasers are typically bigger than normal pencil erasers, which makes them less fiddly to hold while carving - though they are softer and more crumbly so not as good for detailed designs.
First, draw or trace a design onto paper using a pencil, small enough that the entire design will fit comfortably onto the eraser. Next, turn the paper over and press it pencil side down onto the eraser. Take the pencil and, if you can see the design showing through the paper, go over it, pressing firmly as you go. If you can't see the design through the paper, just rub the pencil firmly all over the paper.
Remove the paper, and your pencil drawing will have been transferred to the eraser. Carve out the design with a craft knife.
Cut in half and left to dry out, or even put in the oven for a few minutes, oranges are great for summer projects, and more abstract designs. Stamping them in an overlapping repeated pattern creates a really unusual and effective geometric background.
Buttons come in all shapes and sizes, and depending on the design of the button and the ink you use, can add a variety of different moods to your projects - cute, traditional, nautical, romantic and lots more. Stamping with buttons is a great way to include a button element in your design without using one up - so if you have found an interesting button you particularly like but they are in short supply, stamping is a clever way of using the same one again and again.
The intricate texture of lace makes it really interesting to stamp with. It's a little bit more tricky than a solid object, but the results can be well worth it. Great for stamping borders, if you cut a strip and stick it to a [[p1031|long acrylic block]].
Perfect for summer cards and projects, stamping with silk flowers tends to result in a more realistic shape than a solid flower shaped stamp. Because they are so soft and flexible, they are best mounted onto an acrylic block for stamping.
===Ridged tin cans
These require rolling rather than 'stamping'. The ridges are great for creating straight, evenly spaced lines on a page - perfect for borders and frames. Peel off the label, ink up as many of the ridges as you want lines in your design, then roll onto card or paper.
String is another great way to create interesting backgrounds. Coil some thick string around a piece of sturdy card, tuck in or stick the ends and use it just like a rubber stamp to create an unusual irregular linear pattern.
As you can see, there really is no need to stick to pre-made stamps. Pretty much any object can be used as a stamp, as long as it isn't stuck down and you can pick it up! Most of the ideas above cost nothing at all, so give it a go and see what you come up with.