Stamps are great for the holidays. They can be used to decorate cards, invitations, wrapping paper, even thank-you notes. Since snowflakes are such a universal wintery graphic, they're perfect for placing everywhere.
In this tutorial, we'll cover how to make your own snowflake design, as well as how to mill the design on an Othermill so you can get started on decorating right away.
Step 1: Tools and Materials
- Flat end mill, 1/32" and 1/8"
- Computer with Otherplan installed
Vector-editing program such as Illustrator or Inkscape
- Scotch-Brite pad
- Hot glue gun and glue
Hand saw (optional)
- Linoleum block, 2"x3"
- Linoleum block, 3"x5"
- Envelope (5)
- Card (5)
- Black pigment stamp pad
Note: If you don't want to source all the materials, we have them available as a kit.
- Snowflakestamp.zip has all the files you need
Step 2: Make a Snowflake
Lucky for us there's a great snowflake generator to use, made by Windell Oskay and ported by Paul Kaplan. Drag the small circles around to make your own snowflake. Every time you drag one circle, a new one will appear next to it for more complicated designs.
Click the "Save as SVG" button in the top when you're happy with the design.
Step 3: Rotate and Resize
In a vector-editing program such as Illustrator or Inkscape, open up the .svg file you just made. I'm using Inkscape here.
With the snowflake on screen:
- Rotate the snowflake 90°.
- Change units to inches.
- Lock ratio for size.
- Change width to 2".
You now have a snowflake that will fit well on the 3"x2" linoleum block.
Step 4: Add the Cut Line
Now that we have the stamp shape in place, we'll need an outline to cut for the whole stamp. If the outline is fairly close to the stamping area, we'll get a much cleaner stamped image as a result.
You can create a regular hexagon that's 2" tall for this or use the rounded hexagon that's in the zip file from the intro. Either one will work, but it's nicer on your hands to have the rounded corners.
Use the align tool to center the shapes on one another. Save the resulting file as an .svg file.
Step 5: Set Up in Otherplan
Now that your .svg file is ready, go into Otherplan to get it ready to cut:
- Open Otherplan.
- Click "Setup Material."
- Choose "Linoleum."
- Choose "Small (3x2)."
- Click "Continue" and "Done" to close.
You should now see the small linoleum block on the front left corner of the bed on the simulation in Otherplan. Now we're ready to recreate that in real life.
Step 6: Place the Linoleum Block
Put the actual linoleum block on the front left corner of the Othermill's bed and secure it in place with hot glue by running a line all around the bottom of the block. Make sure to get some on all 4 sides.
Don't worry about ultra precision here—just make sure it feels like it's right on the edges with your fingers and you're good to go. There's a little bit of margin in the design.
Step 7: Import the File and Set Up
With the linoleum ready to go, import the .svg file you made for your snowflake.
The next step requires that you have BitBreaker mode on. Turn it on by going to Otherplan > Preferences and selecting BitBreaker mode. You'll now see the "Advanced" option on the right side of the screen.
- Select "Advanced."
- Choose "yes, within cutout" for invert.
- Choose "center" for cutout placement.
- Click the green check mark to save these settings.
- Close the window.
These settings will make it so the Othermill will carve away everything outside of your design, as opposed to cutting the design itself, leaving linoleum in all the places you want it and enabling the result to perform like a normal stamp.
You don't need to change the tool settings since the defaults (1/32" and 1/8" flat end mills) are just what we need. Now we just need to add the first tool to get going.
Step 8: Insert the End Mill
The first tool that we need is the 1/32" flat end mill. Insert it in the Othermill and click the "Set" button to set the height.
If this is your first time using the Othermill, please check out the Hello World tutorial to see how this process works.
Step 9: Mill!
With everything in place, click on the "Start Cutting" button. The Othermill will start milling the job by clearing out the tiny detailed areas with the 1/32" flat end mill. When that's done, you'll be prompted to switch to the 1/8" flat end mill. Once that's finished, the Othermill will proceed with the rest of the clearing on top and the cutting out of the whole shape.
CAUTION: The linoleum is pretty thick and could be thicker than the 1/8" flat end mill can handle. If your end mill is not long enough, then stop the job when it's cut through about half of the material and finish the cuts with a hand tool.
Step 10: Clean Up the Stamp
Linoleum is sticky and the swarf (little bits that remain after milling) can cling to the finished piece. You can clear the swarf away with a small scraping tool, but our favorite technique is to use a Scotch-Brite pad. Gently wipe in different directions and the swarf falls right off.
Step 11: Stamp All the Things!
With everything cut out and cleaned up, you now have a new stamp ready to be used for putting snowflakes everywhere! Ink it up and firmly press on a flat piece of paper to place your designs.
Note: These stamps aren't always great for envelopes as the layers of paper underneath may show through in the stamped image.
And as always, if you have any questions, reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We're happy to help!