How To – Stamped Party Bags

How To – Stamped Party Bags

We’re very excited to share this how-to with our readers. This charming extract comes from Ishtar Olivera’s ‘I Love Stamping’, it’s a beautiful craft book bursting with Japanese inspired designs to craft, ink and stamp! This particular extract shows you the basics of stamp making and how you can make cute little cat party bags using stamps. ‘I Love Stamping’ will be available from the 7th April so there’s not long until you can get your hands on your very own copy!

How to Make a Stamp

Stamped Paper Party Bags

Positive and negative

The first thing you need to learn is the difference between positive and negative; it is the combination of these two concepts that, when applied to your design, will create your stamp.

Positive and Negative Stamping


Positive carving is everything that is taken out of the carving block or rubber. These parts won’t ink, so they won’t show when you apply your stamp to a surface. (right)


Negative carving refers to all the parts of the rubber or carving block that are not carved, and therefore stay on the stamp. These are the areas to which ink is applied, so they will be visible when stamped. (left)

Depending on your design, you may want to use a stamp with more positive parts or one with a larger negative area – it’s up to you. Bear in mind that a negative-carved stamp will have the most visual impact, as it will hold the most colour.

Carving the details

When you start to carve a design, always begin by defining the details. I highly recommend that, when carving a small detail such as an eye or nose, you should start carving around it first (if carved in negative). The consequence of not working in this order is that there will be insufficient support around the area of the detail and it will therefore break.

Carving circles

Carving Circles

The trick to carving a perfect circle is to imagine your carving tool as a drawing compass. To create a negative circle, stick the tip of the gouge into the outside line of the circle you want to carve and, without moving it, slowly turn the carving block 360° to form a complete circle. (left)

To make a positive circle the same process is applied, but instead of carving around the outside of the circle, carve around the inside. (right)

To carve really tiny circles, use the tip of a mechanical pencil. Just press it into the carving block and lift. It will make lovely tiny dots!

Creating lines

Carving Tips

Making lines of the desired thickness doesn’t depend only on selecting the right gouge, but also on applying the right level of pressure as you carve. The less pressure you use, the finer the carving line will be; the harder you press, the deeper the gouge will go into the block and the more you will carve out. With time, you will learn what level of pressure to apply to get the results you need.

When carving, keep your tool at a 30o angle, holding it like a pencil. This will help you to keep control of the tool and to obtain good results. Don’t carve too deeply into the block; just far enough for your design to print when stamped.

If you’ve never made stamps before, first practise carving straight lines and curves on your carving block or rubber. Try to make your lines smooth and straight. This is the key to obtaining great carving results.

Once you feel confident with your lines, carve a simple stamp following the instructions on page 18, and move on gradually to more intricate ones

Let’s make a stamp!

  1. Trace your design

Choose one of the stamp templates from pages 120–124. Place a sheet of tracing paper over your design and, using a no.2 pencil, trace the image. Place the tracing paper, pencil side down, on top of your carving block and rub with a coin or bone folder to transfer the image. Be careful not to move the paper, or the image may come out blurry. If you are doing a smaller design once you have traced it onto your block, cut around it with a craft knife. Then when you have finished carving, cut off any remaining bits of block you don’t need; this also applies to a larger design. This way it will be much easier to carve and stamp.

  1. Time to carve…

Have you practised your lines and curves? Good! Start by lightly defining the outline of your stamp with a fine gouge, then, once you’re happy with the shape, press more deeply. If your design has small details, carve around them first with your smallest gouge. Then, switch to a bigger gouge (no.2 to no.5) and carve the rest.

  1. Ink, stamp and correct

The only way to know if the stamp is finished is by stamping it on paper. So, apply some ink, stamp it and carve away any parts that you don’t want to be there.

Note: When transferring an image, bear in mind that it will be reversed.

Tip: When you want to change direction, rotate the carving block rather than the tool.

 Cat Gift Bags

Cat Paper Bags

These cat gift bags are perfect for party favors and they are so kawaii. Plus they only take a few minutes to make!


  • Paper bag
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Round sticky label
  • Stamps for this project (see templates on page 124 or below)
  • Black stamping ink (use permanent ink if your paper bag has a glossy finish)
  • Washi tape
  1. At the top of the paper bag draw the shape of the cat’s ears (as shown above) and cut out.
  2. Stick a round label in
the centre of the bag and print on the eyes and a nose using your stamps.
  3. Cut some thin strips of washi tape and use to make whiskers.



We’d love to know how you get on with this craft! If you give it a go please share your thoughts in the comments below!

I love Stamping

I Love Stamping

Ishtar Olivera

Published by Quadrille






One Comment

  1. Oh what fun I love to use stamps I definitely will need to get a copy of this book! Love those favor gift bags super cute.

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