Article Type Making Art Together Making Art Together Categories Painting Printmaking Theory and Resources

Make Your Own Stamp Pads

Meghan Burch

Whenever we do stamping projects in the studio we usually use stamp pads we’ve made ourselves. Homemade stamp pads are less expensive than store-bought and allow us to customize their size and the type of pigment we use in them.

A roll of turquoise upholstery foam on a table.

To make our stamps, we use upholstery foam, polystyrene (like Styrofoam) tray and a hot glue gun. Upholstery foam is sold by the yard at fabric stores, and sometimes in packages at craft stores, and it’s worth the effort to find a coupon if you’re going to use it and purchase a lot. It doesn’t need to be super-dense or thick, maybe 1/2” or 3/4”.  We like upholstery foam because the density and small size of the holes distributes paint well, but an easy and less-expensive alternative are cellulose dish sponges.

Hot-glue a piece of upholstery foam (or a sponge) to polystyrene foam tray or a dessert-sized plastic plate. The tray should be just larger than the foam, and the foam should be just larger than the stamps you plan to use.

Use a plastic spoon, palette knife or spatula to smear tempera or other water-based water-soluble paint into the upholstery foam.  If you’re using a sponge, mist it with water so that it can more easily soak up the paint. The first time you load the pad, it will take a fair amount of paint. Now its ready to use. Easy, right?
A plastic zip-top bag with several homemade stamp pads inside.
If you plan to use the stamp pad the next day, just slip it into a zippered bag to keep moist. Let it air dry with the paint on if you won’t be using it again within a few days. Mold will grow if on a wet stamp pad if it’s left too long in a sealed bag. When you’re ready to use the stamp pad again, just spritz it with a little water and add more paint.
Several homemade stamp pads arranged on a table with different stamping materials.
If you’ve been to the studio you know we offer a specific selection of materials to explore and we arrange multiple sets of those materials around the room so they are available to whomever stops in to experiment. When we include stamp pads in our projects we usually use just one color in all the stamp pads. That’s so they don’t all end up turning brownish-black from the stamps traveling around the room. Kids usually notice color attributes before shape or pattern, so by keeping the stamp pads to a single color shape and pattern could share the spotlight with color. We did also offer colored pencils in this project so that more colors could be included in our guests’ designs.
Two stamp pads stacked on top of one another, the top one with blue tempera paint and the bottom with orange tempera paint.
We’ve used traditional black ink stamp pads in projects before, but we find they work best for smaller, rubber stamps. They aren’t ideal for our large round-handled stamps. They also make parents of young children nervous with all their blackness and permanence, so we try to avoid setting up our guests for stress about non-washable messes.
A hand pressing a homemade stamper into a cup with a small stamp pad.
We use a lot of different kind of stamps in the studio, some are purchased through art and school suppliers, but many are home made. Check our our posts below for some home-made stamp ideas.


Meghan, smiling and wearing a grey shirt with a blue background.

Meghan Burch

Art Educator from 2003-2016, Meghan has a BFA in Illustration from Massachusetts College of Art and Design. She tries to think with materials and work with her hands every day.
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