Many years ago, I heard about this hobby called Letterboxing, which is sort of like a low-tech, crafty version of geocaching. The idea is that you create yourself a stamp and a booklet, then follow clues you find online to various letterboxes. The boxes include a book of their own and a stamp that belongs to that box. You exchange stamp marks with the box, so that everyone who has been to a particular box leaves their unique mark there and then your own book ends up looking like a traveler’s passport. Or this is how I understand it, anyway, I have never actually done this. Yet. Part of what is holding me back is that I tried it once, at the Olympic Training Center here in town, but the box was missing. But a bigger part is that I didn’t really understand how to carve my own stamp and it somehow seems less personal to buy a pre-made stamp. And it’s not like I have a major resource full of free craft-making instructional videos at my fingertips. So, a few weeks ago, this subject came up at our knitting (and other fibers) group and there just so happened to be a mama there who’d been carving stamps since she was a kid, so she brought a kit and taught us all how to do it. Here’s what I learned.
Michael’s didn’t have the fancy stamp-carving kit I was hoping for, but they did have a set of carving tools. The stamp-carving ones were smaller, but these work fine for me, a beginner. I happened to have a few white erasers leftover from last year’s Back to School clearance, so I pulled them out and got to work. Since the stamp for your letterbox should be personal, I decided I’d use the zebra belly from this blog’s banner, which was originally from a photo I took years ago on a trip to the zoo. I can’t imagine being anything but ZebraBelly at this point.
I sketched the design onto a piece of paper (you can also trace a design using tracing paper), and made sure to leave a nice, thick layer of pencil lead (or whatever it is these days). Positioning the paper, drawing side down, where I wanted it on the eraser, I rubbed it with my thumb nail to transfer the pencil to the eraser.
When I carved, I made sure to carve the parts that I wanted to appear white.
When I was finished, I neatly rounded the edges and tested it out. You can re-carve as needed, but I was happy with mine. Next step: create or buy a book to record stamps in! And then to find my first real letterbox!