Rubber stamps used to thrill me endlessly with their impressions in violet colour. The stamp had to be pressed against an inked pad and then the impression of the matter on the rubber was left on paper. I used to see many rubber stamps and the pad kept in my grandfather's office [advocate] and enjoy making impressions on some waste paper. This was in my very young days.
Almost 40 years ago, I was in High School. There used to be a classmate by name Shankar Nadig. We were on the same bench. This little fellow was very talented. He used to show off his skills in class, while the teacher was doing lessons, by sharpening the pencil with a razor blade in such a way that it looked like being sharpened using a pencil sharpener! We used to look at it in utter awe. We could not think such a thing was possible. I used to try it at home and even matched his skill.
His use of the razor blade on the pencil eraser to create inverted letters of the name was amazing! All he had in his nimble fingers was a 'angularly' broken razor blade. That sharp end was to carve out the rubber from the centre of letters like A, B, P, O, etc. It also was needed to carve out sharp corners inside E, M, etc. It was such a wonderful little tool in his hands!
My theory for most occasions when it comes such things is 'if someone can do it, I too can.' I also have 'learned a lot from observing'. Since he was sitting next to me [I was lucky] I used to watch him carve out stamps for other friends who wanted their name stamps. For this, we bought new erasers [it cost 3 paise each] to get this done. Mind you, he carved while he listening to the teacher and when 'notes' were not dictated. But I used to be distracted. When I showed some interest in carving, he taught me how to carve tiny pieces out and how to carve curves. First we had to write the name on the rubber - inversely and then cut carefully, leaving equal spaces between letters. A cutting mistake rendered the stamp useless - we had to use it only as eraser. Using the pen nib, we applied ink on the surface and got the impression to check [proof-read] since we could not get a stamp pad.
I gained some skill by doing quite a few stamps for others as well as for myself. I really enjoyed doing it while still wondering how the professionals make it using machines.
I've preserved a few slightly recent works. The first few ones did not survive, but the impressions in this picture below are from stamps carved in the high school days. Upper case was easier, but Shankar Nadig had not tried the lower case letters. I tried.
I carved out the above two for my vests to mark them as 'mine', because they got mixed up with my brother's.
This is machine made. My first address stamp, when I had begun my hobby of penfriendship. Got it done at Lansdowne Building here for nine rupees fifty paise.
I got another one a few years later as the old one got worn out.
I really enjoyed making my own stamps and stamping the name on text books, notebooks, comic books and almost everywhere! It was fun!