I love the versatility of stamps – they are great for card-making, creating pretty envelopes and for loads of DIY projects (think holiday wrap and table settings!). Lauren Quinn Ward is the talented designer behind Felicette. She designs super cute stamps for all occasions and has recently launched her holiday collection. Lauren designs custom stamps perfect for handmade stationery, weddings and other occasions. Also, everyone needs one of Felicette’s adorable cat stamps, just because.
You were in school doing your BFA when you took up stamp carving as a side project. How did Felicette evolve from that time?
I taught myself how to carve linoleum stamps while in a book binding class at school. Our professor had a signature stamp of an old fan that he puts in very book he makes. I wanted something for myself, and then the rest of my friends in class jumped on that idea and had me make one for them. I can’t remember if I was able to make one for myself, or if it was everyone else who got one.
I stayed part time stamp maker on Etsy for the next six years, through graduating, a part time job, and then graduate school; when I was almost done with graduate school I took an internship and then a job with the Smithsonian, which was my lifetime dream. Since I was actually working I had to scale my stamps way back, and I missed them terribly. I missed talking to customers about designs for their wedding, or another Etsy business looking to stamp their logo on everything. I missed creating. That was my aha moment, that I knew what I wanted to do and started on a plan to get there. I still wanted the stamps to be handmade, but wanted them to me more durable and a higher quality, so I switched to laser engraving them. Felicette came about because I needed a brand and name that I could grow with and worked with the company Aeolidia. From the start my business has grown organically, but it is always changing and evolving. Being a stamp maker is fun and keeps me on my toes!
Please share more about your creative process with us. What does the process entail?
When I start on a new stamp it’s usually out of need. Like the holidays are coming up or I could use a new design for a personal library stamp. Sometimes inspiration strikes and the next thing I know I have a taco address stamp. But no matter how the idea comes to me all the stamps start the same, with my sketchbook and a pencil. I don’t normally scan them in until I am pretty set on the design. Then I turn the sketches into vectors and prep the files for lasering. Once the stamp has been lasered I cut a maple block to size, engrave the top of the wood with the stamp design and assemble the whole stamp with a piece of thick foam in the middle for more even impressions.
Why is it important to you to be part of the creative process from start to finish?
Aside from being a control freak, it’s important for me to be involved every step from a quality and cost stand point. Since I go to the lumberyard down the street and pick out every maple plank myself I know that I won’t have a wonky one I can’t use. By engraving the stamps myself I am able to quickly test out new ideas or make a stamp in one day for someone in a hurry. I have a flexibility that a lot of other companies are lacking.
What are some of your favorite ways to use stamps?
I love using stamps on fabric! One of my favorite craft projects was a paper airplane tote bag. I take that thing everywhere with me. Stamps are an easy and inexpensive way to personalize everything, from clothes, to birthday presents, to tea towels. I want to try them on walls!
My biggest stamping tip is don’t press down too hard on the stamp; I have watched people put the stamp down on paper and then lean on it with both hands using their entire body weight. While the stamp can take it, your impression is going to be a smashed mess. When you apply the stamp to paper (or other surface) you want to be firm but even, keeping the stamp in your hand. You might be able to rock it a bit if it’s a larger stamp, but don’t lean on it! The foam between the rubber and the wood will do a lot of the work for evening out the pressure but if you press down too hard on one side it will still be an uneven impression.
Having an inkpad with lots of ink is also helpful; if it’s too dry you won’t get an even coating on the rubber. On the flip side if there is too much ink on your stamp it could come out looking like a bit of a mess.
Always practice on a scratch sheet before you move on to your actual project. That way you will know how much ink to put and how much pressure to apply for a consistent clean impression.
I am very excited about crafts for the holidays! So far I am planning a stamped apron, and possibly ornaments. Everyone in the family is also receiving their presents in stamped gift-wrap.