Butterfly Journal Cover with Balsa Foam Stamping

by AMACO brent

Large book2 copy

Carve a butterfly and a word stamp from Balsa-Foam® and use the stamps to stamp images in paint onto a surface material.
 Students will learn how to carve a dimensional shape and to mirror text to create word stamps.

During World War II, more than 12,000 children under the age of 15 passed through the Terezin Concentration Camp between 1942-1944. More than 90 
percent perished during the Holocaust. In poems and pictures drawn by the young inmates of Terezin, we see the daily misery of these uprooted children, as well as their courage and optimism, their hopes and fears.

Cut Out the Butterfly Shape

Large butterfly2a copy

Press the cookie cutter halfway into the Balsa-Foam® to make an outline of the butterfly. Remove the cookie cutter from the Balsa-Foam®. Cut Out the Shape

Working from the side and the top, cut the Balsa-Foam® away in sections around the mark made by the butterfly cutter. When you are done, you will have a raised butterfly shape on a square background of Balsa-Foam® .

Text Stamp

Large tolerance

Cut a piece of Balsa-Foam® to approximately 3˝ x 1˝ in size. Measure and cut the same size piece of white paper. Using a very soft (6B) pencil, write the word TOLERANCE on the paper and mark around the edge of the paper to design a border. This will ensure your text fits on the sheet of Balsa-Foam®. Flip the text face down onto the Balsa-Foam® and rub with the ball of your finger to rub the text onto the Balsa-Foam®. The text will appear as a mirror image which is necessary for it to stamp the right way around later on. If the lines are faint, draw over them with pencil so you have a clear pattern to follow. Using a toothpick or a suitable sculpting tool, sculpt the letters and border into the Balsa-Foam®.

Decorate the Butterfly

Large butterfly2 copy

You can now carve your butterfly to your own design. You need to keep the surface flat so you can stamp with the finished design – the holes you make in the surface will give you the finished pattern. It may help to trace the butterfly outline on a sheet of paper and draw in the 
design you want to use. Use this as a guide when carving your butterfly. To carve the butterfly, use different sizes of drinking straws to press holes into the butterfly – make sure you go only halfway through the depth of the Balsa-Foam® when you do this. Extract the pieces of Balsa-Foam® using a toothpick. You can make dents and small holes in the butterfly using a toothpick or knitting needle. To flatten the surface of the butterfly so it will make a good stamping surface, place a sheet of 400 grit 
sandpaper on your work surface and place the butterfly face down on this and sand lightly.

Painted Book

Large book1 copy

Cover the fabric binder of a student notebook with masking tape to protect it. Paint over the cover of the book with one layer of gesso and a layer of acrylic paint. A butter cream color was used on this project. Set aside to dry. Spread some acrylic paint thinly onto a paper plate or flat artist’s palette. Press the Balsa-Foam® butterfly face down into the paint so that the paint adheres to the shape. Press the butterfly “stamp” onto the surface of the book. Press firmly downwards rather than rocking on the stamp. Lift the stamp directly off the surface so it doesn’t smudge. Create a butterfly trail across the book using a small 3/8˝ x 1/8˝ rectangle of Balsa-Foam® made from a 
leftover piece of Balsa-Foam®. Tip: Before stamping onto the book surface, test your butterfly stamp to make sure you know how to stamp with it by stamping the image onto a sheet of plain paper as a test.

Paperbound Book

Large book2 copy

Spread some acrylic paint onto a paper plate or flat artist’s palette. Press the Balsa-Foam® butterfly face down into the paint so that the paint adheres to the shape. Stamp the first butterfly onto a sheet of brown kraft paper. Cover the stamp in more paint before stamping each additional butterfly. Make sure to press firmly down on the stamp and do not rock it from side to side. Lift the stamp up off the paper rather than dragging it off. Repeat the process to stamp the word TOLERANCE using your word stamp along one edge of the kraft paper. Take care that paint does not build up too much inside the letters so that they don’t stamp clearly. If necessary, use a toothpick to clean out the excess paint before stamping again.

When the stamped paper is completely dry, apply adhesive to the cover of the notebook and adhere the kraft paper to the notebook. When the cover is dry, cut around the edge of the notebook to remove any excess paper.

Reusing the Stamp

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The butterfly and text Balsa-Foam® stamps can be reused if you wash them in clean water to remove most of the paint – you don’t need to remove it all. Dab the stamp with clean paper towel to remove most of the water and set aside to dry completely before storing.

Using a Brayer

If you have a brayer, you can get good results using the brayer to coat the stamp with acrylic paint before stamping. A brayer gives a good even cover of paint.


    Butterfly Journal Download File


    A Journal, Folder, Etc to Decorate Carving Tools Balsa Foam Acrylic Paint Brayer Paint Brushes