How to Hold a Stone

Written by Lu

Before you stamp your stone onto your artwork look for any inscriptions on the side of the stone. If you have an old seal you may have to look carefully to find these inscriptions which may consist of only one or two small characters. Traditionally these side inscriptions begin on the left side of the stone (as it is positioned on the paper when stamped). This way, if you put the thumb of your right hand on the side with the inscription and your pointer finger on the side facing away from you, you’ll always know which way is up when you stamp the seal onto your artwork. If your seal stone has a flat top you may want to put the palm of your hand on the top while you press down. With your palm on the stone you can roll your palm around the edges, being careful not to move the stone and smudge the impression, so you are sure of stamping all sides of the seal equally. You’ll have to be careful pressing down on a seal with a carved knob on top so you don’t break off any delicate carving. I recommend taking off any rings from your fingers so you don’t scratch the stone accidentally. One book says the “proper” way to hold the stone while stamping is to put the thumb on the side facing you and the first two fingers on the side facing away but, in fact, you can hold the stone any way you like.

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