Making of a Custom Ex Libris Stamp

A couple of weeks ago I got a request from Terence for a custom Ex Libris stamp for his archaeologist girlfriend AC as a Valentine present. It's been a fun and challenging stamp to make. I took pictures in the process and got permission from Terence and his girlfriend to share with you - so here they are!

(The signature parts of the sketch, stamp and imprint have been blurred out to protect privacy.)

AC specializes in medieval crusader walls so he requested St. Hilarion Castle in Cyprus to be included in the design. He sent over a couple of pictures (1, 2, 3, 4 below) of the castle. Terence also told me that AC was into art deco and 18-19th century style; he suggested having her initials and the text, "Ex Libris" included in the design in an art-deco-inspired font. So I did a bit of researching online and found pictures for inspiration.

On the bottom of the picture you can also see pictures of trowel - archaeologists' tool of the trade, which was also to be on the stamp.

I drew a frame on a piece of paper to show the size of the stamp (app. 7x9cm, or 2.7x3.5in) and started sketching around the frame - sort of a graphic brainstorm. I tried out different elements of the design and how they would look together. 

After tea break I came up with an idea - having the castle "grown" out from an open book, the trowel in the front. The proportion and perspective were a bit off and needed more work.

I grabbed my Rubik's cube and put it on an open book to give myself a better idea of the perspective.

I redid the sketch and sent it to Terence for his approval, at which point he had the chance to change the design or details if he so wishes. He was very happy with the sketch and confirmed with me that I could go ahead and proceed to carving.

In the picture, behind the castle and mountain it is to be a simplistic sky design with line-drawn clouds. AC's signature will be on the top of the design (the blurred part).

I transfered the design onto a block of rubber and started carving. To find out how a stamp is made you can check out this tutorial.

At this point the stamp was 50% completed. A stamp this big is very difficult and time-consuming to make,

Stamp completed! I printed the stamp with a light blue ink once for a final check before finalizing the carve, then changed a few small detailes and mounted it.

Here is the final imprint! As usual the signature has been blurred out but this should give you a good idea of the design.

I took pictures of the stamp and imprint, sent them over to Terence for confirmation, then packed and shipped the stamp. 

What do you think of the stamp? Would you like an Ex Libris/book plate stamp of your own? Comment below and let me know your ideal motif!

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  • Catherine Yezak

    I love the skill and precision you use. You are very gifted. I am looking for a custom stamp for myself. I am working on my Masters in Library and Information Sciences, so I think this is a great way to mark my own books. Would you be able to create one for me?

    Thank you.

  • Caesar

    This is purely amazing!

  • Emma

    Hi there!
    This stamp looks absolutely amazing! I am looking for a custom stamp for my boyfriend’s brother (late for Christmas), who is a PhD student studying early American lit. I was just wondering what something like this would cost, and what your general turnaround time is?
    I must say you are obviously very talented, and I would love to give him something that would be so special!

  • Carlo

    Tyr, great job as always! I’m in the process of designing an Ex Libris stamp for my girlfriend too. May I ask what ink pads are you using? I’ve only heard about VersaCraft. Are you using them also?

    你的橡皮章都很棒!! :D


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