Sealed With a Chop

Sealed With a Chop lesson plan

On Chinese poetry and art, a small red square announces, "I made this." Design your own Chinese character stamp, called a chop, to mark your letters, art, greeting cards, and other items.

  • 1.

    Four Treasures are found on every Chinese scholar/artist’s table: ink stick, ink stone, brushes, and paper/silk. Each person also has at least one personal seal or chop. Carved in relief or incised in an ancient seal script, these chops are the artist’s signature in Chinese characters (symbols). Today, chops are still used to show authorship or ownership, even in business agreements.

  • 2.

    Chinese chops are made from jade, ivory, soapstone, or other soft precious stones. The body of the stamp may be various sizes and shapes. Often the stamp has a carved shape of a dragon, turtle, or other figure. The characters may be incised into the stone (producing white characters on a red field, like the ones at the top of the photo) or raised in relief (producing red on white like the chops at the bottom of the photo).

  • 3.

    To make your personal seal, shape Crayola Model Magic® into the body of the chop. If you like, mix white and green just a bit for a marbleized jade effect. (You can also mix white Model Magic with color from a green Crayola Washable Marker.) Air-dry the chop at least 24 hours.

  • 4.

    Create the top or head of the stamp separately. Find examples of Chinese characters and then create them in one of two ways: Roll a thin snake of Model Magic to form the character. (Remember, you will attach the character backwards on the bottom of the stamp so the character prints correctly.) Air-dry it 24 hours. Or use a plastic knife to incise your characters in Model Magic. Carve it backwards so it will print properly. Air-dry the head 24 hours.

  • 5.

    After the head of your seal is dry, glue it to the rest of the chop with Crayola School Glue. Air-dry the chop overnight.

  • 6.

    To use your chop, cover your art area with newspaper. Pour a bit of red Crayola Washable Paint on a foam tray. Carefully brush the seal with the paint. Print your mark on white paper. Make several impressions before reapplying the paint. Wipe off any exce


  • Students research the tradition of using personal seals from ancient to contemporary times in China.
  • Students become familiar with several Chinese characters.
  • Students reproduce a facsimile of a Chinese personal seal or chop and use it to mark their work.


  • Cinnabar, a bright red mineral derived from mercury sulfide, is the coloring pigment in the oil-based paste that is traditionally used with chops. Find out how ink is produced by calligraphers by grinding an ink stick on an ink stone and mixing in water.
  • Research how Chinese characters are composed together. Learn how they read from right to left and down the page.
  • Assessment: Ask students to explain their Chinese character. Note whether students proudly use their chops to mark written work.