1) THE STAMP:
The stamp can depict whatever you
deem to be appropriate for the Letterbox. Usually, it will relate
in some manner to the location in which it is placed; other stamps
may commemorate a person or an event. The choice is yours.
Stamps can be commercially made
or hand made. Commercially-made stamps can be replaced if they are
lost (if you kept your artwork), and can support MUCH finer detail,
especially text. Hand-made stamps have a different quality to the
image they make. Which to use is a personal and artistic choice.
Commercial stamps are of vulcanized
red-rubber made from your artwork. Expect to pay in the range
of $10 for a 2" x 3" stamp.
Hand-made stamps are usually carved,
either from carving medium, or from erasers (white vinyl usually,
some use red rubber erasers). Red rubber is reported to withstand
extreme heat (Texas-style) better than vinyl. I don't know yet the
effects of winter's cold.
Sources for, and critique of, carving
media can be found within the Carving
Consortium web page. Most art supply stores usually only
carry "Speedy-Cut" (shown in the previous photo),
a most inferior, crumbly product. Try instead using whatever
white vinyl erasers they carry. Look carefully for surface defects
such as logos, bubbles, pockets, and extrusion lines - these all
will show up when you stamp the image. We use one called "Factis",
measuring 1.5 x 2.75 inches, thick enough to be carved on both sides
if you choose (under $2). It needs no backer block, unlike thinner
materials. Also check out any other place selling office or drafting
supplies. Lots of options exist. Size is also your choice - larger
sizes are easier to carve (bigger stuff), harder to stamp well.
2" x 3" is a nice size, but trial
and error will tell you what's right for you.