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>When you sign a letter or write your name on a note to a friend, your
>is one of the ways the other person knows it's from you. Maybe it's the
>way you cross your "tH or make the loop on your "y". Maybe you always
>a drawing of your cat. Whatever you do, you probably have found a way to
>make your signature uniquely yours. If you do, you're not alone. People
>have been perfecting identifying marks for thousands of years. The most
>common one is the seal, usually in the shape of a cylinder, a stamp, or
>a signet ring, and made of a hard material like a stone or a gem that has
>been engraved. The user rolls or pushes the engraved part into wet clay
>or wax. The impression that results is the person's identifying mark. Seals
>originated in the Middle East, and the first were stamp seals: A surface
>was carved with a simple geometric design, or even the image of an animal
>In ancient Greece, engraved stones and other materials were widely used
>as seals. Under Alexander, great importance was attached to a king's seal.
>Unfortunately, we don't know the image Alexander used on his seals.
>emeralds found carved with his likeness prove that portraits of him
>on gems existed in his lifetime. Actually, such pictures were a popular
>form of seal art at the time.
>Through the years, kings were not the only ones to use seals. Officials
>also used them to mark documents. Even families stamped a seal on household
>goods to protect against theft. Think now about a design you'd like for
>a seal and then follow the directions below to make your own identifying
>FOR "VEGETABLE" SEALS YOU NEED:
>tempera or poster paint
>small, sharp kitchen knife
>1 MAKE SURE AN ADULT HELPS YOU. 1 Spread the newspaper on the floor or
>a table. Cut the potato in half.
>2Choose a simple design - a circle, a square, the outline of a piece of
>fruit, or a letter of the alphabet - and use the pencil to draw the design
>on the cut side of one potato half.
>3Using a sharp knife, carve the design into the potato. You can either
>cut into the potato, or cut a design that stands out by scooping away the
>area around it, leaving a raised shape.
>4 Apply a thick layer of paint to the cut side of the potato and then press
>the potato firmly onto the piece of paper. Let your "seal" dry.
>To make a cylinder stamp, choose an empty glass. Wind string around it;
>then knot the ends or tape them down. Roll the glass onto an ink pad or
>cover with paint, then roll onto paper. You can also use a pen, a pencil,
>or a rolling pin. If you use a rolling pin, you can glue shapes made of
>cardboard or Styrofoam to it. Designs can also be etched into Styrofoam
>or corrugated cardboard. Just cover with paint, press into an ink pad,
>or roll the surface into a tray of printing ink. Press the inked surface
>onto a sheet of paper and peel back. Let dry. You can use your stamp to
>personalize stationery or. just to make a design.