Now that spring has arrived, the thought of staying indoors is enough to drie any mom, dad and child crazy! There are plenty of options to choose from in Greensboro with it’s parks, shopping centers and museums. There is, however, an alternative to the everyday activities that challenges ones thought process and creativity. It’s called Letterboxing!
Letterboxing is a fun and intriguing past-time that encourages creativity, coupled with a “treasure-hunt” in beautiful known, and not so well known, locations throughout the US. It is something fun for all ages. North Carolina is known to have the most letterboxes in the US and it’s something you can do starting today!(Greensboro alone has over 100 letterboxes to find!!!)
Each member of the family will need the following supplies to get started:
a log book: Use a logbook containing white, unruled, acid-free paper for best, long-lasting results. Most people prefer logbooks at least 5½”x8½” but no larger than 8½”x11½”. A spiral-bound logbook is nice because the pages lay flat, but they’re also more likely to bend and get caught up with other stuff in your pack.: (a small sketch book purchased at Hobby Lobby, coupled with their 40% off any item coupon will work)
a pen: to record your finds in your log book and for taking notes.
an ink pad: for stamping
clues: These can be found at Atlas quest- www.atlasquest.com
a “signature stamp” This is where the fun begins. Most beginning letterboxers use a store bought stamp, but the entire family can create and carve their own out of erasers using speedball carving tools(found at Michael’s Arts and crafts). Recommended “nibs”/tips are #1, #5 and the #6 (used for cutting large pieces off your stamp. You can also use speedy carve material(found at AC Moore)
Transfer your image to your material and begin carving!!! You can either carve away the part of the image that is outlined by your pen/transfer markings or carve the non printed areas. It depends on what you want the finished product to look like:
NOTE!!! CHILDREN SHOULD NEVER USE CARVING TOOLS UNATTENDED OR ON THEIR OWN!!!! THESE TOOLS ARE EXTREMELY SHARP!!!
- Carve the more intricate details first – Use the #1 nib for carving these details.
- Carve from the inside of the stamp outwards.
- Carve away from yourself. Not only is it safer, but it’s also easier to do!
- Only cut as deep as necessary for a clean-looking image. Excessively deep cuts will cause your stamp to deteriorate quicker.
- Cut a long line with one, long continuous cut to get the cleanest edges. Using several cuts to make one line creates a more jagged appearance. (Of course, you might desire this effect, which might represent hair on an animal or an impressionistic look.)
- Keep your nibs sharp or else buy some new ones. A dull nib will tear away pieces rather than cut them out resulting in very ugly edges.
Trace the edge lines first with a #1 nib, then go back and carve out the large areas with the #4 or #5 nibs later.
Next, follow up with the large #5 nib to cut out the large areas around the image. Make sure the cutting tip does not fall below the cutting surface. Otherwise, the tip will tear pieces out of the carving block rather than cutting them off cleanly.
The carving is finished! You can use a #6 cutting blade to trim the excess carving material from around the stamp (although an X-acto knife will work just as well).
Ink up your stamp and give it a try! Your carving might contain small flaws invisible to your eyes, but they pop out quickly when you actually use the stamp. If you see any flaws, go back and carve out a bit more. Remember, you can always cut away more of the carving block if necessary, but you can’t put back pieces if you’ve cut out too much, so while carving, error on the side of caution!
You are now ready to go out and enjoy the beauty of North Carolina in the spring. Explore new places, revisit favorite family outings with a new twist!!! Letterboxing is so versitile. Check Atlas quest and bring your supplies on your nxt family vacation. You might be surprised at what you find! More information and details incuding clues, letterboxing etiquette, and tips can be found at www.atlasquest.com.