How to make your own stamps

Did I already write here about A Knitter’s Manifesto? I see that I did – but that A Knitter’s Manifesto got muddled up (as things in my life often do) – with news of other things; with news of button badges, birthday goodness, and other assorted, not-specifically A Knitter’s Manifesto bits of news. This post too will digress into news which is not explicitly “hey look, I worked with Brenda Dayne on a CD!” because today I want to tell you about how I made the stamps for the Artist Edition of that CD.

So, why stamps?

As a resituated American who has left Oregon to live in Wales, the issue of place is very important in Brenda’s podcast, and is also therefore key to A Knitter’s Manifesto. I share with Brenda a sort of itinerant past, having lived variously in Newcastle, Croydon, Dublin, Oxford, and now Reading throughout my life, and the quest to locate and create home – to find my real place in the world – has a powerful draw for me. Perhaps the things which I enjoy most about listening to Cast On and also which I have enjoyed most about recording the sounds for A Knitter’s Manifesto revolve around the issues of belonging, exploring, and finding beauty in the places where one lives. In my case, this involves my ongoing exploration of everyday sounds, and my evolving obsession with Reading’s industrial past. In Brenda’s case, this quest is bound up with being an American living in Wales, where this is the view.

Because of the focus on place in Cast On, we decided that for the Artist’s Edition version of the CD we should focus on the materials of the international traveller. Airmail stamps, envelopes, collected ephemera, and postal items therefore became the things we used to craft the release, and we decided that as part of this approach, we needed to make stamps celebrating the home of Cast On. Sitting in Brenda’s living room, drinking a million cups of coffee and knitting, we decided the home of Cast On should be represented by a stamp featuring the view.

I started off with a sheet of stamp paper from, which is really my very favourite online shop in the whole world for rubber stamps and faux postage items.

The stamp sheets can be purchased with an associated template, which then needs to be taped onto the stamp sheet, so that the little perforated edges will remain white while you add layers of paint and ink over the top.

The first layer was blue paint, sponged on in a very fine layer. This was the bottom layer of 5 layers; each stamp respectively contains layers of acrylic paint or waterproof ink for sky; sea; hill on left; rubber stamp feat. hill + 3 little trees; and finally, the “1st” stamp. After the light blue sky layer was sponged on, I masked off areas on each postage paper sheet so that the sea layer could be added.

In this photo you can see the acetate sheets (caked in sea acrylic paint) which I used to mask off the areas of the stamps which I wanted to remain as the sky colour. After I had added sea to the stamps, It was time to add the hill to the left, and then to add in the hill + three little trees to the right, on top of everything else.

Tonia carved the rubber stamp feat. the trees, and she mounted it onto a wooden block, so that it was easy to stamp with it.

After putting the hill + three little trees on it onto all the stamps, it was time to add the “1st“.

This stamp was also carved by Tonia, and I found that covering up the space around it with masking tape stopped me from getting ink all over the edges of the stamp. I had to mask off the rest of the stamp too, so that I could stamp “1st” onto all the stamps without getting ink everywhere.


Then I found a recipe online for stamp glue (it’s made with sugar and gelatin) and we made that, and brushed it onto our philatetic creations, so that we could lick and stick them onto the CD packaging.

Listening to a podcast or a radio show for a long time, one builds up a kind of inner, imaginative world around it (or maybe it’s just me?) At least I know this much is true; before I knew Brenda in the real world, I had rich, mental pictures of the world she describes in Cast On. I had my own internal images of the view out of Brenda’s window onto her Welsh valley, and a sort of impression of the qualities of the light or the weather in certain episodes such as the snow which I saw in my mind’s eye when I listened to Thanksgiving Special: A Snow Day. One of the reasons I like working in sound myself is that I enjoy the descriptive qualities of sound, and how sounds and words can evoke things that are at once very specific and which also leave some space for one’s imagination to conject and associate. I like that – although a sound recording can be very detailed in describing the shape, size or features of a place – sound recordings also leave the eye of the mind quite free to invent, imagine, and play.

I hope that the stamps are like that too; that they are at once specific, being based on Brenda’s view and on one particular valley in Wales… but that they are also generic enough – any valley, any trees, any sea – to feel familiar to everyone who buys the Artist Edition CD.

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