Crafts & Hobbies Information

Rubber Stamping: From Maya Indians to Scrapbooking

Who would have thought that your scrapbooking and card making had a connection to the Maya Indians? Rubber Stamping is certainly one of the fastest growing hobbies today, and for good reason. With its inexpensive materials and creative versatility, rubber stamping provides millions with hours of fun and creativity. How did it all start?

? Spanish explorers were the first to talk about a "sticky substance" that bounced, used by South America Indians. Though it didn't revolutionalize the world at that time, these same Indians were using a primitive form of rubber stamping to "mark and tattoo" images on men and women.

? In 1736, Charles Marie de la Condamine, a French scientist studying the Amazon, sent a piece of "India Rubber" back to France.

? Rubber got its name in 1770, when the scientist Sir Joseph Priestly made a comment about a substance "excellently adapted to the purpose of wiping from paper the mark of black lead pencil." Hence the "rubbing out" of pencil marks gave it the term "rubber". Up until this time, people wishing to erase pencil marks had to use bread crumbs.

? Rubber Stamping owes much gratitude to a hardware store owner who decided to quit his job to solve the "sticky problem" he had heard about. Though his persistence was tested time and again, even filing bankruptcy and going to jail for failure to pay debts, Charles Goodyear eventually discovered that heat was the secret to rubber's "curing".

? As early as 1866, a man carved information in a flat piece of rubber and mounted it to a curved block of wood. This 4"x 6" mounted rubber stamp was being used to print information on bath tubs.

? Early rubber stamps consisted mainly of words and phrases used to mark packages and manufactured products. Stamping suppliers began to spring up in Ohio and the West.

? Rubber stamping as a hobby took off in the early 1970's with companies such as All Night Media (1974) and Hero Arts (1974). Soon the craze had caught and many other companies decided to cash in on a hobby that would last for decades.

? It wasn't until a boom in the 1990's that rubber stamping became so popular with millions of crafter's worldwide. As thousands of companies begin to produce rubber stamps, the availability and unique designs become common everywhere!

It's no wonder why rubber stamping has turned into a worldwide crafting phenomenon. Women and men alike have found hundreds of creative uses for rubber stamps, from scrapbooking and cardmaking, to gift bags and 3D artwork. Give it a try, you'll see!

Kathy Williams is a designer and producer of rubber stamps. She has assisted in the production of hundreds of mounted rubber stamps and themed rubber stamping sets. You can find her rubber stamps at

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