Making a Personalized Bookplate Stamp

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June 27, 2014 by magpiemenina

The weather is lovely and the garden is in and flourishing. We got the first round of weeding done yesterday. There have been all kinds of fledglings hopping around the yard, which is a treat to watch. The poison ivy is up in force, and I had my first-ever reaction to it, so that’s less of a treat.

As is my wont, having thought about making a bookplate stamp for a long time, I finally did so. We were preparing to move next month (now extended until mid-winter), so this seemed the perfect time to label our books and catalog them. Have I mentioned that I find organizing very soothing?

We have an ever-growing collection of books. (It goes like this: We were at Ikea and out of bookshelf space. I was going to buy two more bookshelves, and Jaybird said, “Let’s go ahead and get four. That way, we won’t need to worry about book space for a while.” Of course, an empty bookcase just cries out to be filled.)

A few years ago, prior to marriage, I’d drawn up a bookplate for myself. The design was based on one I saw on a plate in a folk-art book. Now, of course, I wanted a bookplate that connoted joint ownership of our knowledge bank. Previously, I’d scanned the drawing and printed it out on archival paper whenever I needed a bookplate. I would glue it (using archival glue) inside the book cover. I only put it in my favorite, favorite books/very expensive textbooks.

For this project, then, I wanted an easier, less messy method. Hence the stamp.


Personalized Bookplate – Stamped Image

You can make your own if you are good at drawing, or find something online that you like and can mimic.

How To Make a Bookplate Stamp (or really any stamp):

This is a nice rainy-day project. You’ll be ready to start stamping the next day!



You will need:

-pink rubber (or gray) – these can be purchased in the linoleum-cutting area of art supply stores or some craft stores. Don’t get the really stiff stuff to start. If you are doing something tiny, I also recommend pink or white erasers.

-transfer paper, if desired

-linoleum cutting set


-Beacon 3-in-1 craft glue or rubber cement

-block of wood

-stamp pad

-cutting mat or other cutting surface


1. Come up with a design. If you are doing a bookplate, be sure to include your name or initials somewhere in it. Dover Publications has a number of clipart books with bookplate designs, and no doubt a number of free graphics sites do, as well. Just remember, you have to be able to carve it!

A lot of old bookplates include the phrases: “Her Book,” “His Book,” “From the Library of,” or “Ex Libris” (Latin, basically “From the Library of”).

2. Transfer the design to the rubber. There are two ways to do it:

a. You can sketch it right on the rubber, but remember, the stamp has to be a mirror of what you want the image to look like when stamped.

b. Scan the image into the computer. Using Paint or Preview, reverse the image. Print it out on regular paper. Taking the rubber, place a piece of transfer paper (read: carbon paper) between the rubber and the transfer paper. Trace the image onto the rubber.

As a disclaimer, I went with b. The transfer paper did not really transfer the design the way I wished it to. It did transfer enough that I could “connect the dots” and fill in the rest.  Since I had drawn the design in the first place, I was able to reproduce it. Option b. may work better with the gray rubber, which is harder, but I plan to sketch my designs directly on the rubber next time.

3. Start carving! Begin in the empty areas first to get a hang of it. Those little cutting blades didn’t necessarily cut the way I was expecting. It really is not too hard, though. Just take your time.

Bookplate Stamp After Stamping

Bookplate Stamp

4. When you feel that you are nearly done, ink and stamp the image to see if any areas need cut down further. Adjust accordingly and repeat as needed.

Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3...

Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3… (Steps 4 and 5)

5. Although you can use your stamp without a back, I find it nicer and easier to have something to hold onto, so I asked Jaybird to cut a block of wood that was just slightly larger than the perimeter of the stamp. Sand the block enough to get the splinters off (you don’t want to bleed on your books! Ewwww). Stamp the image on the top of the block. Glue the stamp to the block and let sit overnight for better adherence.

6. Get stamping!


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