14 July 2009

Rubber Stamp Making

Table cover made with politico propaganda tarpaulin.

The rubber stamp maker is a fixture in Manila streets. They are the unsung heroes of office administration and computerless, human-driven duplication and document receiving.

Still quite superior eyesight, uses only low-prescription glasses.

The standard accompanying key duplication services.

Recently I was hanging around a busy but chatty expert-of-the-sort in Raon. In between interrogating me, telling me about his tall and talented daughter, listening to my stories about making stamps out of potatoes, and asking me if I had any source of softwood (for mounting rubber on, the kind used for matchsticks), he gave me some insight into his life and occupation.

Showcase of skills via uncollected rubber stamps.

He has been making rubber stamps for 30 years now, taking up the trade by means of intense and continuous practice at age of 17. He charges about 150 pesos for a custom-made stamp measuring 1 inch by 2 inches. Just off the top of my head, there's a pretty good margin in there, as he gets in several of these a day. But that's still quite a steal to us mere mortals who can't be bothered with making sense out of pieces of rubber like he does:

He begins by examining what he needs to translate onto rubber. Sometimes, it is a drawing, other times, it is an impression from an existing stamp. These he stores in a notebook.

In most instances, he begins with a set of pre-divided rubber rectangles. I suppose the sizes can get pretty standard. On these, he sketches designs.

Then he proceeds to do some sketching and layout. He was in the middle of this set for Ace Megamall when I chanced upon him:

A bit of a closeup, where you can see the letters shaping out as they are scrawled with a pen below. Note that he has to render these in mirror-image.

Once in awhile, he stops to take the dull out of his carving tool on a small sharpening stone, which has been sitting in a styrofoam cup filled with water (in second photo below) until now.

And he returns to work.

(I recommend running to your nearest rubber stamp maker with a piece of paper and your chosen inane drawing/text. Pepper the bathroom walls of malls, "serious" offices, and campaign posters. Stamp graffiti must be easy and fun, especially when someone gets permanent paint into the picture. In the process, support unapparent artisans and human-powered processes.)

Popular Posts