The process of creating a stamp always starts with a spark of inspiration and my sketchbook. My eyes have learned to recognize great ideas. As I go about my day, I will often see something that makes me say "Man, that would make a great stamp!" Before long I have my sketchbook in hand (or a notebook, scrap piece of paper, or even...yes...a napkin), a cup of tea nearby and I'm doodling away. Not all sketches end up as stamps, of course, and not all my creative sparks translate well into stamps, but that's just part of the process I suppose.
After I have a great sketch, I transfer it onto the vinyl carving medium by placing the sketch upside down and rubbing it with the end of my large exacto knife. It has a rounded end and doesn't tear the paper.
After the image is transferred to the vinyl, I go over the pencil lines with a dark sharpie to make them easier to follow and to eliminate any possible chance of smearing, which pencil is infamous for on vinyl. There's nothing worse than carving away on a design and then smearing it beyond recognition, because realigning the design again is a huge pain in the hiney! Hence the sharpie. :)
Next I use my lino-cutters to carve away everything EXCEPT the sharpie lines. Yes, I know the design is backwards. Think about it...when you stamp it you want it to imprint correctly, right? Well then, you have to carve it in reverse.
After I get all the details carved, I use my small exacto knife to cut away all the excess vinyl along the edges until I'm happy with it. Then I glue the vinyl stamp onto a piece of 1/4" thick foam and trim up the edges to fit the shape of the stamp. And Voila! A new stamp is born.