Wednesday, August 20, 2008


There probably isn't an original thought anymore. If you think about everybody who has ever lived, and all the thoughts they have had, it seems unlikely that we might have a thought in our head that no one has ever had. I hope that isn't true.

To this point I have carved lots of stamps to this date, but I can't say all of them have been true original works of Jackbear. It's clear from the slideshow you see to the right of the screen, that not all of the images are things I thought of from my head! Some of them are downright copyrighted! Gasp. Keep in mind however, I'm not trying to sell a stamp of a "Mountain Dew" logo, or a "Tusken Raider." These are examples of stamps I have carved for my own interests. They were never meant to be bought or sold. I post them as an example of what a hand carved stamp can look like.

The kind of stamps I want to share and sell to a broader audience will not be copyrighted or trademarked works. That's illegal. But more than that, to me it seems unoriginal. I want to be as original as I can be. I want Jackbear Stamps to be known for being quality hand carved stamps that are like no other. This is one reason I look forward to doing custom work. Someone gives me a picture, and I turn it into a portrait stamp. I'm not really interested in making 60 copies of the same thing. I like making each piece a bit unique in it's own way.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Launching Jackbear Stamps

I am very excited to announce the launch of my new business, Jackbear Stamps. I am delighted to bring my talents as a hand carver of original and custom rubber stamps to a wider audience.

I began carving stamps as part of a hobby I got involved with in 2003 called letterboxing. This treasure hunt for hidden rubber stamps sparked a sense of fun and curiosity in me, and though some of my hobbies have come and gone over this time, letterboxing has only grown. My first challenge as a letterboxer was finding a stamp to represent me. I had already picked my trailname (my first name (John) = Jack, my last name (Ballou) = Bear (like in the Jungle Book. I started looking for a stamp in the craft stores. I wanted a bear track. I found lots of cats and dogs stamps, but no bears. That settled it. I needed to carve my own. I read lots of online tutorials, and found that I could carve a plastic eraser into a good stamp. After doodling and drawing for hours, I finally found the design that I liked. I traced it onto the eraser, carved away, and I had done very first stamp.

Not long after, I started to carve more and more. These stamps were very rudimentary compared to what I like to carve today, but we all start somewhere. The pine cone pictured above is actually about 5 or 6 inches tall in real life. I carved it to stencil a border around my guest bedroom which I decorated in my favorite style, Adirondack rustic. Each new stamp I carve is a learning process and a challenge, and that is what keeps it interesting to me. Though I have updated the materials I use, the passion stays the same.

Recently I have started carving more portraits, and stamps of people. I have found this very rewarding, as it is a subject that many beginning carvers shy away from. In fact it was by a request of a fellow letterboxer that really got me thinking that I could start a small business carving stamps. She had requested a stamp be carved of her two children. She didn't want it for a letterbox, she wanted it to stamp on thank you cards, or perhaps holiday cards. I accepted a photo from her, and carved from there. This sparked an idea in my head....there might be people out there who need stamps carved. They might be scrapbookers, or card makers, or other kinds of crafters. I could sell hand carved custom stamp to them (I don't sell stamps for letterboxing purposes as this is a non-profit hobby, and is not the place for commercial ventures). And so Jackbear Stamps began.

I am putting the finishing touches on my shop as we speak, so I hope you will join me on my journey to bring amazing hand carved rubber stamps to the world.